Do you set a bad example to players’ parents?

Shouting, screaming parents on the touchline take all the fun out of the game. It’s a way of life as a coach to always have at least one parent who needs tranquillizing on match days.

He (or she) is the one that looks calm enough during the warm up, but as soon as the match starts is stalking up and down the touchline, yelling “advice”.


Will Ferrell setting a bad example in Kicking and Screaming

Will Ferrell setting a bad example in Kicking and Screaming

They are too loud for comfort even if the game is going well but if, heaven forbid, their child makes a mistake they really get going.


“COME ON!!!”


This is not only acutely embarrassing for their child, it distracts the rest of the team and gets you and your club a reputation you could do without.

So what’s the answer?

You should have had a pre-season meeting where all your parents are issued with – and sign – a code of conduct that expressly forbids adult supporters from coaching from the touchline and criticizing players or officials.

If you haven’t had that meeting yet, do it this week.

Carry the signed copies of the code with you and if Billy’s dad (or his mum) starts playing up, take him or her to one side and remind them what they signed up to.

If that doesn’t work, stronger action is required.

Point out the effect his behavior is having on his child and how uncomfortable it makes everyone feel. Tell him that he must stop shouting or he will not be allowed to come to matches any more.

I’ve used the expression “three strikes and you’re out”. It works…as long as you set a good example.

You can’t expect parents to behave properly on match days unless you show them how to do it.

So don’t try to coach your players while they are playing.

If you shout instructions:

  • your players probably won’t hear you anyway;
  • if they do hear you, the moment has passed and your “advice” becomes confusing;
  • your players have to learn to make their own decisions, make their own mistakes and learn from them;
  • the players’ parents will copy you.

Never, ever criticize a player during a match.

Your players always try their best. No child makes a mistake on purpose!

Publicly criticizing a young player will make them feel bad in front of their team-mates and parents.

And will it make make them play any better? No, it won’t.

Your job is to support your players and make their soccer experience enjoyable. So if they make a mistake and need to know how to do something better, speak to them about it privately. Use the feedback sandwich – praise, constructive criticism, praise – followed by practical help.