Stop yelling instructions from the sidelines



Pay attention the next time you’re around a youth soccer match. Observe how coaches and parents act differently depending on the scoreline. Listen to the chorus of “Pass! Shoot it! Move up! Be aggressive! Not in the middle!” When the score is close, the volume ramps up, but once a team is three or four goals ahead, both sides, resigned to the outcome, relax. If learning and fun were the main objective, why would we act differently when the “game is on the line.” The high pressured, screaming laden game I described in the first part of this series is unfortunately not uncommon.

As a parent, I’m starting to realize that, as much as I know intellectually about the consequences of parents’ behaviors on the sidelines, I’m already finding it hard to stay calm during my son’s games. Like all parents, I want my child to do well. I want him to enjoy soccer, and I don’t want him to feel embarrassed or upset if he doesn’t perform well. I’m also concerned about what other parents or coaches might think of me based on my child’s play. If he tries a flashy piece of skill will they think I didn’t teach him to share properly? What if he’s a little overly aggressive, or overly passive? What does that say about me as a parent?

Coaches are often under similar psychological stress. While many understand that sideline instruction can be detrimental, they are also under pressure from parents and club administrators. Uninformed parents expect coaches to be “sideline generals,” directing play like professional American sports coaches on television. If they sit quietly while the kids are making mistakes, what will the parents think? Likewise, if they intervene and direct the kids, they can improve the chances of their team Cheap Jerseys
winning. What would club administrators think if their club continues to lose to a local rival? Fearing that parents will move their best players across town to the winning club, coaches can feel pressured to produce immediate wins.

What just happened? By directing Suzie, the parent didn’t allow her to use her active decision making skills. She doesn’t get to fire those circuits in her brain that allow her to think quickly under pressure. Moreover, the coach just lost a great opportunity to evaluate how far Suzie has developed in her game understanding. Perhaps Suzie had been working on a new piece of skill and was prepared to take on the defender 1 on 1. The abilities to make decisions quickly and to attack in 1 on 1 situations are two of the most critical skills that separate Success jersey cheapful soccer players from the rest, and we just robbed Suzie of the opportunity to develop them both.

Coach B stays calm. He claps briefly and says to his team, “Don’t worry guys, keep working.” At halftime, he pulls Timmy aside and says, “That was a good idea to play back to the goalie when you were under pressure, but you got unlucky. What could you have done differently?” Timmy thinks for a second and says, “I should have stayed more calm and concentrated on following through the center of the ball with my pass like we worked on in practice.” The coach replies, “Bingo! Way to go. Next time you’re in the same situation, I want you to try that pass again.”

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