After spending nearly every day this summer at camps and tournaments, here are our Top 3 things we wish parents would stop yelling from the sidelines.
Parents- we know you love your kids and just want to see them do their best in lacrosse or any other activity. But, however well-intentioned you are, we often hear parents yelling instructions from the sidelines that are confusing, bad, or just plain wrong.
We hear the same things at almost every game. And while you might not know it, you are probably telling your child something completely different than what their coach is telling them at practice or on the sideline. Like, the opposite actually.
You're a dad. Not a coach. His Coach is his coach. In fact, there is research showing that this kind of instruction from parents on the sideline during games is confusing, especially for younger players, and makes their youth sports experience less enjoyable. When you are yelling, they are under more pressure, and have less fun.
The Good News: Giving up this type of sideline behavior is fairly simple. Provide encouragement, not instruction. The best teams we see have experienced, knowledgeable coaches that don't allow parents to yell at players or criticize officials. Parents are there to cheer for the team when they put in the effort and make good plays.
Here are the Top 3 things you can stop yelling at your players during games to become one of the good parents we need more of, and not one of the "Helicopter" or "Lawn-Mower Parents" that so many coaches and officials write about. Make your time on the sidlines more positive, relaxing, and fun!
"GO GET HIM! TAKE THE BALL AWAY!"
No Tommy. Don't "go get him." Taking the ball away is not that simple. An attacking player outside the box is not a scoring threat. Coach is probably telling him to get back in the "Hole" and protect the middle. Good Defense requires correct approach, position and footwork to stay in between the man with the ball and the goal. Good Defense is played "from the Inside-Out", covering the middle of the field first.
Charging out to challenge the ball leaves players out of position. Younger and inexperienced players have the tendency to over-commit and lunge out at the ball, leaving them unable to back-pedal and drop-step to stay in front of their man.
When little Tommy (Red 1) charges out like dad said, all it takes is a little side-step move for the man with the ball to run right by him. Now, another Defender (Red 4) is forced to Slide to stop Tommy's man, leaving another man (Blue 4) open for an easy pass and a shot.
Don't let one player put the rest of the Defense in a vulnerable position. The Coach or the Goalie are the only people who should be directing the Defense. Once everybody is back in the "Hole", matched up covering a man, and the Slides are assigned and organized, THEN we can start to send out Defenders to pressure the ball.
"SHOOT IT! SHOOT IT!"
No, Johnny, don't shoot it. We once heard a mom start yelling "Shoot it!" every time their team got the ball acros the midfield line. That's a 35-yard shot. Even professional players don't take those shots.
Most youth and high school players are looking for a 8-10 yard shot from a good shooting position. Good shooters that have spent a lot of time practicing will occasionally score from 12-15 yards out. If your kid isn't taking those shots in practice, don't yell at him to do it on game day, mom.
Bad shots lead to Turnovers and Fast Break goals at the other end of the field. You telling your child to shoot it when he hasn't gotten past his Defender is just bad advice. The Goalie makes an easy save and now the whole team of 10-year-olds has to sprint 100-yards and play Defense because you yelled at little Johnny from the sideline.
Coach is probably telling little Johnny to keep possession, and focus on passing the ball around. Maybe he's trying to sub off the tired Midfielders for fresh ones. Or maybe he's trying to keep the ball in the offensive end for a minute or two to give the Defense and the Goalie a chance to catch their breath. Let the Coach coach.
"GO TO THE GOAL!"
Now you're telling your child to dodge through double or triple teams. Coach is probably telling him to move the ball, or hold it so they can sub other players off. Again, you coaching your child from the sideline is causing turnovers and forcing the rest of the team to sprint back on Defense.
Offense requires patience, timing, positioning, and coordination. If little Billy decides to go to the goal, the other players around him need to get out of his way and draw their Defenders with them to create space for the man with the ball. If they don't have time to do this, little Billy is running right into trouble.
Remember, youth sports is about learning and development. Give your child space to grow and learn, while receiving instruction and constructive criticism from another adult.
If you really can't keep your mouth shut, then sign up to coach the team this season, and you can yell all you want!