WHY PARENTS SHOULD NEVER COACH FROM THE SIDELINES, OR IN THE CAR DRIVING HOME!
Wherever players are playing games, there will be parents watching the game. Everywhere you look, parents line the field and often provide feedback to their players by coaching from the sidelines. Some provide real instruction while others just repeat whatever the coach says. Others are just plain screaming at their kids to work harder or try to score. All of these parents mean well and want the same for their players- a good game, a positive outcome, and an improved player. But coaching from the sidelines actually works against these outcomes, to the detriment of the player. Below are several reasons why parents should avoid coaching from the sidelines.
It isn’t Fun
Kids play soccer because it is fun. Parents screaming at kids is not fun— not for the kid, not for the kid’s teammates, and not for the coach. Kids want to be able to play the sport without constant interruptions from parents’ screams ruining the fun.
It isn’t real coaching
Yelling at players to run faster, shoot better, and try to score isn’t coaching— it’s pointing out the obvious and it isn’t helping anyone.
It might not even be true
After years of watching their children play, some parents believe they understand the best choice for their players and the team, but this often isn’t true. As professional coaches, it is our responsibility to make strategic choices for the team. When parents tell their players to do something differently, this works against the team’s goals, which have been set by a professional. Just because the coach told a player to pass once doesn’t mean every ball should be passed. Just because the coach told a player to move up doesn’t mean every player should move up. Coaching should be left to the professional. Failing to do so will confuse the kids and result in a less-than-ideal outcome.
But child’s coach isn’t coaching— somebody has to do it
Every coach coaches differently, and coaching styles might change throughout the game depending on the environment and the players’ needs. There will be moments where I am very actively coaching and there will be moments where I am sitting on the sideline observing the players. When I am actively coaching it is because the players are requiring more guidance in that moment. Alternatively, when I am quiet, I am observing the players’ performance— do they understand what they are supposed to do? Are they able to execute the plan without my help? If the answer is no, I know we must continue developing these areas. When the answer is yes, I know we can move on to the next development area. If during this time parents intervene because they don’t understand the coaching requirements for this moment, my influence is undermined and the players become confused. This hurts the development of the entire team and lessens my ability to connect with the players to work towards a win and development.
It might Contradict the team’s tactics
Parents are often not present for team practices, game warm-ups, and pre-game instruction. Missing out on this time means that parents are often unaware of the tactical plan, which we develop with careful consideration of our team’s strengths, the opposing team’s weaknesses, and many other factors. Coaching from the sidelines will very likely contradict our pre-determined tactics.
When parents coach from the sidelines, the players don’t know who to listen to. This confuses everyone and undermines the tactical strategy.
To illustrate this point, I will use some examples:
- You tell a player to go wide but the coach told the player to go inside, which will create space for another player to overlap and take the ball. Instead, the player listens to the parent and goes wide. This fails because now two players are in the same spot and there is no open player to take the ball.
- You tell a player to pressure but the coach asked the team to sit back and defend the space. The player listens to the parent and pressures. This fails because the player is outplayed and will leave too much space for the opponent to receive the ball up the field.
- You tell a player to drop back, but the coach told the team to pressure so the player should actually move up. The player listens to the parent and drops back. This fails because the opponent will be open for an easy passing opportunity. With the player dropped back, the opponent can move the ball up the field more easily.
- You tell a player to shoot but the coach asked the team to focus on possession since they are up 8-0 at the half. The player listens to the parent and makes a shot on goal. This fails because it hurts the development of the team overall. When the team doesn’t press for goals, they are allowed the opportunity to develop passing skills in a game environment, which is invaluable for individual player development.
It might leave your player confused when you aren’t there
Many parents make a lot of effort to attend their player’s games. Many parents coach from the sidelines at these games, calling out every run, pass, and shot. Their players follow every direction and depend on their parents for direction during the games. What happens when you’re unable to attend? What if you have a conflict and your player has a game to play without your help? Can you yell louder than 60,000 fans when your player is playing a World Cup Final? No. Players must learn how to play the game by themselves and, occasionally, with their coach’s sideline help. If you absolutely must control every play on the field, I suggest you purchase a Playstation and the game FIFA. You can even make Messi and Ronaldo do precisely what you want!
How our professional coaching helps players Learn
All players learn differently. Their unique personalities dictate their learning styles and preferences; no two players are alike. At SB4U, we understand this nuance and treat all players like the individuals they are. Through our professional coaching experience, we have identified three common learning styles for our SB4U players:
- Learning by listening
- Learning by seeing
- Learning be experiencing
There is no right or wrong learning style— players simply learn differently, and we embrace that! If a player learns by listening, we teach these players by instructing vocally during practices and games. We also place importance on pre-game speeches, half time speeches, and post-game speeches as a way to provide feedback vocally. For other players, seeing is the best teacher. For these players, we demonstrate moves during practices, use a coaching board in our game and half time speeches to illustrate strategy, and use videos to remind them how to perform drills and how to use tactics in games. Our third learning style, and our most common, is learning by experiencing. For these players, we teach them by putting them in game situations during practice. These players also learn in real-time game situations. They learn by making mistakes, and understanding how to improve from these mistakes. Regardless of their learning style, all players develop differently, which is something we embrace at SB4U.
If you are a parent of a player who learns by listening, you might assume that coaching from the sidelines is helping your player, who learns by listening. But in actuality, coaching from the sidelines often contradicts the coach’s verbal instruction and acts as a barrier to other players with different learning styles. Additionally, you take the fun out of the game for everyone because sideline coaching is distracting and detracting for the players and the coaching staff. We understand your good intentions— and appreciate them— but ultimately, they work to the detriment of your player, your player’s teammates, and the group as a whole.
As a coach, I understand that all parents love and care for their children, and want only the best for them. I understand that parents are excited about their player’s individual development and want the team to play well. Parents coach, cheer, and yell from the sidelines because they want to be involved in this exciting experience and want their children to perform well.
As well intended as this is, this is not in the best interest of your player or the team. If you have an interest in contributing your soccer knowledge, please talk to your players coach about volunteering as an assistant coach; chances are the coach will be more than willing to accommodate your interest! For those of you who cannot volunteer, please consider your deferential support to be the best thing you can do for your player and for the team. In the end, this is the final choice: Do you want to be the parent who believes you’re helping by coaching from the sideline, when really you’re hurting? Or do you want to be the parent who is actually helping by allowing the kids to play and allowing the coach to coach? The choice is up to you.