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Feedback on Parent Behavior, Overcoaching ...
by SA Editorial, December 12th, 2008 4:45PM



Soccer America Members can post their feedback on's Blog and Commentary section using the link provided at the bottom of our e-letters. Selected posts will be included periodically in the e-letters. Below are reader comments on recent editions of the Youth Soccer Insider:


I really agree with this. I work as a referee, and the parents are almost always the ones who make my job the most difficult. I had one experience, where a father thought the ball was out of bounds, and it wasn't, and yelled at his daughter to pick up the ball. It ended up being a hand ball, and I felt bad for the girl, because she was obviously really confused.

With the exception of a couple out-of-state tournaments, all the games I have been a coach at have had a technical side (for the teams) and a fan side. I agree with the author that this is far superior setup to the alternative. One additional reason is some coaches, if given the right to roam from endline to endline, will roam endline to endline giving instruction at every point on the field. This kind of instruction should be limited to practices.

Our family "grew up" in Region III and never saw the fans on the same side as the teams until we moved to California. Our particular state rules stipulated the technical area remained free of unrostered players and fans. During state cups, the field marshals stood at the end lines to prevent fans from sitting behind the goals. Teams sat on one side of the field, fans sat on the opposite side of their team benches and rarely did the fans cross the half line. ... We liked it.

FYSA (Florida Youth Soccer) has a rule requiring that the teams and fans be on separate sides of the field. Most tournaments that I work as a ref have the parents in the middle of the field and will not allow spectators behind the goal line or on the touchline inside the penalty area. Both of these rules help to cut down on the possibility of crowd comments hurting the game.

I agree supporters belong on opposite sides of the field from teams, especially at older ages and higher levels of competition. In addition, a proactive and communicative coach can greatly influence parental behavior. At my preseason parents meeting, I remind team parents of the classic saying that there are four roles at a youth soccer match: player, referee, coach and fan. Each person can only choose one. The line always gets a laugh, which makes it easy to follow up with a comment setting sideline expectations. I've been fortunate to have fantastic parents thus far who embrace that philosophy, which makes each week fun for all of us (including our club's young referees), win or lose.

WHY THERE'S OVERCOACHING by Paul Giovanopoulos

While I agree that our players don't watch enough soccer, I think the overcoaching problem really relates more to game day. That's when we need to let the players make decisions, encourage them to be creative and take risks, and most importantly tell them its OK to make (and learn from) mistakes. I tell my parents and players to use musical performances as an example. A music teacher works very hard at lessons, but sits back and enjoys the performance.

The music example is very good. Another is if your child is in a school play and is struggling during the performance, you don't yell from the crowd what to do or say. Too often parents and coaches try to direct the players in the game and it really does not work.


Finally someone with a clue. Too many games, not enough training. And we must win every game or we are failures. That stifles player development. The best teams many times do not have the best players on them. Big strong, fast and direct wins youth games, and winning is sooooo important.


  1. Paul Stewart
    commented on: December 12, 2008 at 11:45 p.m.
    I encourage everyone to look at the Positive Coaching Alliance website and books, and try to arrange PCA workshops for the players, coaches and parents in your club or league. This will solve a lot of problems with parent, coach and player behavior, as well as promote better play based on modern sports psychology teaching. PCA's first goal is to help you win, but the second goal is to teach life lessons through sports. PCA is a national organization started at Stanford University, and it's transforming the culture of youth sports. Paul Stewart President Dallas Texans Soccer Club

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