I’ve read several interesting articles recently about how parents and coaches poor behavior on the sidelines affects the play of the kids. Having coached at the youth level for more than 7 years, in my experience I can say I completely agree with these observations. Have I at one time or another been guilty of the same bad behavior that was mentioned? Sure, absolutely. But without question, the kids are influenced by the stream of words that seem to be always flowing from both sidelines.

Soccer is a difficult sport to coach because of its fluidity and size of field. Soccer coaches don’t have the luxury of calling a “time-out” or have natural stoppages of play to gather his/her players ’round for a brief chat. Therefore, directions and adjustments are yelled across the pitch or relayed from player to player to get the message across.  Thus, an environment of barking orders is created, especially at the younger ages when adjustments are needed more frequently (and more urgently, many coaches and parents feel).

The environment of yelling to players naturally occurs. BUT, this encouragement, and I STRESS encouragement, should be generic and non-specific. In other words, it should be team based. “Good hustle Red!” “Keep working Blue!” “Nicely done girls!” NEVER and I stress NEVER should a parent criticize someone else’s child for their play. I dare say keep your negative comments to yourself about your own child until the car ride home….You’d be very surprised how much the players can hear from the field….I lost track of how many times I heard my players talking after a match “Did you hear what XX said about XX?” Which then results in unnecessary drama…..and an unnecessary visit from the coach to the parents side of the field…..

I have heard stories of youth players responding to their parents instructions to the point of stopping and looking at the sidelines as the play goes by them….Never is this more evident than with the Goalkeeper.  First, the angle you have from the sidelines is very different than that of inside the goal. So even though you think your son/daughter GK should do this or that, you should not be yelling at them from the sidelines. More times than not what you’re yelling is contrary to what their J4K coach has been training them on. Once they hear your voice, they will key in on it and hear it more often…..

Let your keeper do just that….KEEP! Let their GK training be put into action. And if you’re telling yourself “They don’t know what to do, so I’m just helping” then maybe you should seek out a J4k program in your area to properly assist your keeper with their development. Be encouraging and supportive but not specific and directive. Let the coaches at J4k build confidence and skill you you can sit back and enjoy the match!