Published on December 12, 2017

As a parent, player, fan, or fellow coach, what is the first thing you hear when walking up to a youth sports game?


I know.. your intentions are good and you just want your child to do their best and be successful, but have you ever stopped to think of how it makes your children feel or how it effects their enjoyment of playing?

There are four types of destructive sideline behaviors that are ruining the enjoyment of youth sports:

1. The Official’s Backseat Driver

This is the parent that is constantly yelling at the official. Every call they make is questioned and critiqued loudly by this parent.

Consequences of this behavior include:

  • You will NEVER win an argument with the official. The call is made, end of story
  • Ask any kid- there is nothing more embarrassing than your parent screaming at the ref and causing a scene
  • It teaches your kids nothing… or in the worst case, to yell and scream when something doesn’t go your way

2. The Sideline Coach

Raise your hands if you have an unofficial head coach on your kid’s team?

(All hands go up)

This is quite possibly my worst nightmare. This parent is constantly telling players where to go and what to do on the field. Despite the fact of them not attending every practice and knowing  what goes on, they still feel like what they say is undoubtedly the right tactical move to make.

Here’s why coaching from the sidelines is a bad idea:

  • It confuses kids. Are they supposed to listen to you or to their actual coach? When kids get confused, they don’t’ perform, they freeze. The more you coach the more damage you are doing
  • Children need to learn from people other than their parents, and from the game. Let them listen and learn from someone else- it will help their ability to learn and trust from others.
  • It steals their independence. When you are constantly yelling directions, you are taking away their ability to think and problem solve on their own. It’s a game and it’s THEIR GAME. Let them make mistakes, problem solve, and learn on their own!

3. The Impulsive Super Cheerleader

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 don’t you think that yelling it frantically is going to add stress to an already stressful situation?

Ask your kids what they want you to do, and really listen to what they say. Most kids, when we ask them what they want their parents to say at their games: NOTHING!

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