Hey coach! what are you doing?

I know that most coaches have children who play soccer for other teams, as well as children who play for their own teams, and this can put them in a position to judge the coaching of others. I have had this conversation on many occasions: “What do you do when you see a coach doing the wrong thing on match day? Do you intervene?”

I find that when I am watching either of my sons playing and I am not the coach, I try to keep in the background. The coaches often ask if I want to do the half-time talk and I decline – as much as I would love to be involved, I also enjoy watching matches without the responsibility of the team.

Watching Gary Lineker

I remember being at a game when the team playing on the pitch next to us had the son of former England striker Gary Lineker playing. At half time Gary was listening to the team talk and I noticed the manager was mentioning his son a lot. Now that was a lot of pressure on that coach and I imagine he felt it too. How could he have as much knowledge of the game as Gary?

But the point here is that he would have more knowledge than Gary of how to run a youth team and what to say to get that those individuals playing at their best. I had wanted to listen more to what was being said but I was watching my own son play and so my attention was on his game and what his coach was saying. However, I did think that the positioning of Gary, so close to the half time team talk, was off-putting.

After the game

If I feel that the coach is saying or acting in the wrong way, I wouldn’t say anything in front of everyone else – I would wait until after the game or until I saw him at training before I offered him my opinion. I always ask the parents of players in my own team to come and see me afterwards and not to get involved during the game.

Certainly I will respect the parents as well if they do the wrong thing at a game and will confront them afterwards, away from the other parents.

Have a quiet word

As I give a lot of advice out it is vital that I carry out in practice what I am advising other coaches to do. On many occasions I am out around the grounds in grassroots soccer and I see behaviour that is not what I deem helpful to the youngsters who are experiencing it. However, I cannot march around telling coaches what they should be doing – and nor should you. It’s always best to have a quiet word afterwards.

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