The Dangers of Parents Coaching from the Sidelines

Soccer parents can often become embroiled in the emotions of the game while watching their son or daughter play. This can lead to parents coaching their children from the sidelines which is detrimental to their child’s learning process and overall enjoyment of the game.

The learning process is a long and complicated journey for an aspiring young soccer player. There has been much debate on how long it takes to master a sport. Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Rule” theory – in which he claims it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field – has been scrutinized and remains open to debate. Whatever the amount of time it takes, we should all remember that learning and succeeding at anything, including soccer, is not a quick process.


Within that learning process, players will make mistakes. Many of them. Parents must be clear that allowing young players to make mistakes is an integral part of this process. If young players can make mistakes without fear or anxiety, they can enter a sweet spot of learning. In this sweet spot, a player can express creativity, soccer_parentslearn to independently solve problems, become resilient, build character, and develop other important life skills that all parents want for their children. Of course these personal attributes will take time to foster, which is why parents should be patient and comfortable with their children making mistakes.

When parents lose sight of this process, they become frustrated with all the mistakes and try to ‘help’ by coaching from the sidelines. This adds pressure and builds negativity in a child’s playing experience. The effects can be further errors, reduced performance, and less enjoyment, which in turn, can lead to a vicious cycle of more sideline coaching from the parent and the potential of the child losing interest in the game.

To the trained eye there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of technical and tactical errors made in every game – way too many to fix all at once. At Bryst Soccer Academy, our qualified and experienced coaches have an understanding of the learning process. As such, the coaching process is shaped to compliment this. During games, our coaches will pick a key example or two to focus their coaching on during the period breaks. This allows clarity for the players as they are not overwhelmed with information. SAACs development leagues are designed to facilitate this process as the game formats for U8 to U13 incorporate more periods than a traditional game of two halves. This provides coaches with more five minute breaks to get one or two quality coaching points across for the players to focus on in the next period. Having parents coaching from the sidelines can tamper with the natural flow of the game, and even lead to players forgetting the one or two key messages from their coach at the last break.

Here is a simple list of dos for parents to consider when they watch the game:

  • Be a positive supporter of your child and their team
  • Embrace the learning process the players are going through
  • Praise effort and hard work
  • Encourage them to keep going
  • Ask them never to give up