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Sideline Etiquette for Parents

When playing in a game, youth soccer players’ minds are focused on making split-second decisions as they maneuver around and survey the field.

Every once in a while, however, a player’s attention may be drawn to his or her hyper parent yelling instructions or making a scene from the sideline. While parents’ actions may simply be the result of wanting the best for their child, their behavior can have a negative effect on their young athlete’s enjoyment of the game.

1. Avoid ‘coaching’ from the sideline while watching your child’s game A common problem in youth soccer is the impulse parents have to shout instructions to their young player from the sideline. It’s especially difficult for a child because he or she has a tendency to refer to what a parent says, which often conflicts with the instruction from the coach. Parents should imagine being in a room and having multiple people yelling instructions at them in order to see the confusion it could cause a child.

2. Do not criticize the referee Carton said this is an epidemic, and spectators should realize that referees are people and will make mistakes — even those officiating at the highest levels of play. When parents go after a referee for what they perceive as a mistake, it begins to make the game about the adults rather than the kids.

3. Focus on the benefits of the game rather than the score Far too often parents worry about the numbers formed by illuminated lights on a scoreboard rather than the experience their child has while playing youth sports. Parents are naturally from an older generation in which there was a larger focus on the result of a game. While it’s natural for everyone to want to win, he said parents need to keep focus on the larger picture.

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4. Think when interacting with opposing fans This is one that should be common sense. Grown adults should be able to go and enjoy their child’s experience without having any confrontation. Don’t forget, you’re not just representing the club, you’re representing your child. The way you’re acting right now — if you could see yourself through the eyes of your child, what would you think of yourself? Why are you making a public spectacle over a U-11 girl’s soccer game? Are you proud of what you’re doing right now? Would you allow your child to act like this?

5. Don’t stress out over the game Do you find yourself pacing up and down the sideline — anxiously following the action as it unfolds on the field? Stop it. Breathe. Look at your child. Is he having fun? Is he active? Is he enjoying the social nature of the game? Is he getting as much out of this experience as he can? Don’t worry about the rest of it. Some parents just give themselves aneurysms pacing up and down the line. Keep perspective. There are more important things.

6. Save issues with the coach for the next day Maybe you don’t agree with how much your child played in a game or another decision the coach made during the match. It’s important to take some time to think about it rather than confronting the coach in front of your child and the team. Directly after the game, the parents should not approach the coach. It’s an emotionally charged conversation and very little good can come from that. At that time, there’s very little a coach can say that will make the parent feel any better. Go home. Talk to your family. Sleep on it. Get in touch the next day, whether it be by phone, email, or even going for a cup of coffee with the coach and asking for feedback.

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Source: U.S. outh Soccer (http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/) 

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