Kyle Massa is a contributor to the iSport360 newsletter and a former Content Manager at TeamSnap. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him running, reading, or playing with his cats.
Youth sports parents are some of the most passionate people around. You drive your kids to endless games and practices, you invest time and money into the youth sports experience, and you are your athlete’ biggest fan. Truth is, without the parents, youth sports as we know them wouldn’t exist.
However, there is one area where parents might be a little too involved: coaching from the sidelines! Encouragement is important, but sometimes it can be a real “slippery slope”. What starts as cheering, can turn to subtle instructions and then full-on intense coaching. Here are three reasons why it’s often best to zip our lips on the sidelines….and it’s NOT because we think your coach always knows the sport better than you.
Reason #1: Shouting is Distracting
Ever tried taking multiple directions from multiple people at the same time? Yep, it’s just as difficult as it sounds. During games, young athletes should receive instruction from the coaches—and only the coaches. Any additional suggestions—a parent’s calls to “be aggressive!”, for instance—are simply distracting. Then your child, already under pressure in the middle of a game, has to decide whether to listen to you or the coach.
If you can’t contain yourself, consider taking a walk. Head back to the car, grab a snack from the concession stand, or take a bathroom break. The important thing here is to separate ourselves from the game and have the discipline to control our human “fight or flight” instinct. Sometimes a minute is all it takes to regain our parental stoicism (yes, that’s a thing).
Reason #2: Shouting Takes the Fun From Everyone
Imagine you’re playing your favorite game with some of your best friends. You want to win, sure, but for you it’s more about the experience than the result. You’re playing your game and enjoying it…and then you hear shouting from nearby. Someone’s screaming about how you need to hustle, pass the ball, make better decisions, and more.
Does that sound fun to you? My guess is no. How about the thought that the embarrassing yeller is your parent? Ouch!
The truth is, constant chatter on the sidelines isn’t fun for the athletes, the coaches, the other parents, or even for you. I mean, you presumably didn’t sign up to be the coach. So why not sit quietly, enjoy the game and perhaps a latte?
If you feel like shouting, take a moment to ask yourself why you’re shouting. Is it because the ref made a bad call? Of course the ref made a bad call. They’re human! Or, did your young athlete make a poor play? Of course they did. They’re just kids! It’s likely that your basic human instinct to protect your child is taking control of your words and actions. But remember, this is just a game….and a youth sports one at that.
Reason #3: Shouting Makes the Game About Us, Not the Kids
There’s a reason they’re called “youth sports” and not “parent sports.” Youth sports are about the kids!
When we shout from the sidelines, we’re taking away from the real focus of the event. Eyes will inevitably turn toward the loudest voice at the game, when all eyes should be on the field of play. Furthermore, our young athletes aren’t going to get the coaching they need if their coaches are constantly managing the loudest parents.
To keep ourselves from getting too worked up, let’s remind ourselves who the experience is really about. It’s not us out there on the field, court, or ice—it’s our young athletes. Shouting instructions diverts focus from where it should be.
Let’s try to stay quiet on the youth sports sidelines. Not because the coaches are control freaks….or because they are always right. It’s just about improving the experience for our athletes.
And if you REALLY want to improve the experience for your young athlete, give iSport360 a try here for FREE …it’s a mobile platform for coaches and parents to share objective player feedback throughout the season and at the dreaded tryout time.