Updated: Mar 24, 2018
At any youth soccer game is the all too common parents sideline filled with spectators with a variety of different approaches on how to cheer on their budding athletes. I am sure you have experienced the good and bad of parents sideline behaviour. I know that every parent wants to see their child be successful and give it their all and that your intentions are good, but have you ever stopped to think about how your behaviour makes them feel? Or if it effects their enjoyment of playing?
We have to remember that this is their game and not ours. Players have to focus on playing the game and making split second decisions on the field, but far too often their attention is focused on their parents yelling, screaming and making a scene on the sidelines. I know very well how soccer is a very passionate sport and sometimes our emotions can get the best of us, but we have to remember to keep things in perspective. As much as players want to impress their coaches, it's really their parents they don't want to disappoint. Here are 10 tips to remember when watching your child play.
1. Avoid coaching from the sidelines
Control your impulses to shout instructions and tell players what to do. Allow coaches to coach, players to play and parents to parent. If everyone sticks to their roles they'll be less confusion for players. Instead cheer for the players and say things like "good pass", "nice shot" " well done" things that happen after the fact and not before.
2. Don't criticise the referee
The easiest thing to do is blame the referees and yell and scream at them. We have to remember these people are also humans and will make mistakes. If top european league officials who make mistakes every weekend, and world cup referees whose mistakes cost countries EVERYTHING! Why on earth would we not think referees who officiate far less meaningful youth soccer games are not going to screw things up more than they get it right? As frustrating as it can be, we have to keep things in perspective you won't win an argument with an official and once the call is made there is no going back.
3. Avoid confrontation with the other teams parents
This happens a lot. As adults you should be able to watch and enjoy your child's game without getting into it with other parents. No matter the circumstances it's never a good idea. Remember your not just representing your club, your representing your child. Are you setting a good example? Would you want your child to behave this way?
4. Don't address players from the other team
Yelling at a player or players on the other team is a no-no. Just remember how much you LOVE it when someone confronts or disciplines your child and refrain from from doing the exact same thing.
5. Keep it to yourself
Negative comments and attitudes about players on the team or specific plays, and coaches decisions to other parents are totally unnecessary and hurtful to the parents affected by them. This type of behaviour can kill parent harmony which is essential to the teams success.
6. Don't stress over the game
It's not the world cup final. Try not to stress too much over the result of the game. Wins and losses are part of the game. If you find yourself high on cloud 9 when you win and low and distraught when you lose, you will drive yourself crazy. Keep things in perspective and find a balance. Regardless of the outcome treat every game as if it was a tie.
7. Excessive cheering
Cheering for your kid is great, that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?
Most of the time, this type of behavior is harmless, but if you get too emotional it can lead to coaching or impulsive yelling in high stress situations such as when your child is right in front of the goal and everyone yells “shoot, shoot, shoot”. Obviously they know to shoot, but do you think that yelling it frantically is going to help them in that situation? It's very important for players to stay calm and composed in front goal as this is critical in their development, just as it is for parents to show that calmness and refrain from getting too excited and adding stress to an already stressful situation.
8. The ride home
The worst time to talk to your child about their performance is in the car ride home. Parents are eager to talk to their child and let them know what they think, but usually it is highly emotional time both player and parent. This should be the time to relax and unwind. Resist the urge to talk, listen more and let them vent and tell you what they think. Talk positively with them.
9. 24-48 hour rule
Right after the game in the parking lot is not the time to confront the coach about playing time or decisions made in the game or anything else. Again emotions are high right after the game and nothing good ever comes out from conversations with coaches at this point. A lot more can be accomplished when everyone is calm, cool and collected. The only that can happen is when everyone has had time to think and process their thoughts 24-48 hours after the game.
10. Learn the rules of the game
If more parents learned and knew the rules of the game like offsides, handball, what constitutes a yellow and red card, there would be less sideline insanity. If your not familiar with rules of the game educate yourself and google them or find a parent who really knows the rules and is not intense and is willing to help the cheering section with the rules and nuances of the game. The nothing worse than blurting out "No way"!!! as everyone looks away like as if to say "uh yes way"