I have noticed how toxic and chaotic the sidelines are in youth sports.  Coaches and parents screaming instructions.  At the players.  What chance do these players have of developing?  Or even enjoying this beautiful game?

At weekend games, there’s no doubt we get excited to watch the team play.  Calling out instructions and yelling our opinions from the sidelines can feel natural.  After all, we’re just helping our child play their best game.

Sideline coaching (yelling) is not helping the player’s growth.  With many voices offering conflicting advice throughout the game, players are forced to choose which voice they should listen to.

If the worry or fear of hearing negative feedback from parents on the car ride home weighs on their minds, players are likely to listen to their parents’ advice more than their coach’s.

One of the most important skills a player can learn is making intelligent, fast, on-field decisions.  Decisions like when to pass or shoot, whom to pass to, and what kind of pass to use details players should learn to work out on their own.  The best way to learn this skill is through experience.  Still, when sideline coaching leads to telling them the moves to make before they can figure it out themselves, we take away the opportunity for them to learn this decision-making skill.

Long-term player development involves patience, dealing with failure, and learning from mistakes.  If you are in a leadership role in your community club, educate the parents and staff on the importance of decision-making in life, never mind sports.

Jason Carney, Father of five exceptional children.  DoC at FC Portland

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