Young footballers must see respect to show respect

Club Website members involved in youth football told us that one of the biggest non- footballing challenges they face is the issue of respect. Kids Coach Naomi Richards says that good behaviour on the pitch starts with adults setting the right tone off it.

Many mums and dads love it when their children say they want to play football because it can teach their children valuable life skills.

It teaches them how to work as a team where they can develop their hand to eye co-ordination, make lots of like-minded friends, have fresh air, exercise and, more importantly, have fun.

Some parents are happy to take their children along to practice and games and are not too bothered if their child plays well, has a bad day or if their child’s team wins or loses. Other parents are less relaxed, are more vocal and want to be part of the game.

These parents might shout instructions from the sidelines to their children, shout at the ref or make criticisms of other players – from either team – so that other parents and children around them can hear.

Is it a good thing to be so vocal? What is the message that we are sending our children when they hear a parent, possibly their own, verbally abusing the ref or another player? What does it say to them?

What can you do if you are not one of those parents who is being disrespectful but the person next to you is? What could you say to get them to tone down their language?

Is it fair for a parent to be shouting instructions at their child when the coach is watching the game and using encouraging language to get them to play better, stronger?

Think about your child and what kind of adult you would like them to be when they get older. What kind of life skills would you like them to have? Would you like them to have respect for others and respect for authority?

Would you like your children to be kind and respectful to the other players during the game?

If so, then we need to consider the way we act and speak to people during and after a training session or game.

Respect is about asking someone to do something instead of shouting. It’s about talking nicely to people and thinking about other’s needs. How would you like to be spoken to? How do you feel when you are criticised?

It is also about listening to others and accepting the decisions sometimes that other people make. As parents we need to model that behaviour and teach our children to ‘do as we do’.

We have to live our values and if one of those is respect, then we’ve got to behave in a respectful way.

We need to set a good example to our children as we are their role models. If they grow up seeing us treat others with manners then they will want to do the same. This is particularly important when we are communicating with other parents who are watching the game who are not setting the best example.

If we only tell them to respect others and don’t do it ourselves, then they will learn how to be a hypocrite.

Naomi Richards is The Kids Coach – a life coach for children, helping them address behavioural and emotional issues an interactive, creative and supportive way using both face-to-face sessions and workshops.

Naomi’s first book, ‘The Parents Toolkit’, was published by Vermilion in February 2012. To find out more visit You can also follow Naomi on Twitter at @thekidscoach.

Put your questions to The Kids Coach

If you’re a youth team coach or football parent and would like some help dealing with an unhappy young footballer or overcoming a particular issue, you can put a question to Naomi in our comments section below.

Whether it’s dealing with confidence issues, peer pressure between children or how to give kids the freedom to try out new approaches during the game, Naomi will be back next month to offer advice on another topic, so tell us what you’d like to read about.

No need to use real names if you want to protect your identity – just get a question in!

Dan Pope on LinkedinDan Pope on Twitter
Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

Take the hassle out of organising your sports team with Teamer. Organise, communicate and take payments.


  1. a mum on April 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    “Would you like help dealing with an unhappy young footballer ” Maybe I am missing the point here but if they are unhappy playing the game surely they would just give it up. I certainly would not be pushing my son to play if he was UNHAPPY.

  2. Steve on April 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Says it all really, nothing more to add only that this should be included in every football clubs handbook produced for the player and parents and these people who are spoiling everybodies fun need to be challenged.

  3. tam on April 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Kids hering parents shout at them when they make a mistake does not help the player, we the coaches can see what they are trying to do & it did not come off. Parents drop kids off for training then come back & pick them up, they don’t see what we as coaches are trying with them at training but when i comes off then everything is fine. Some parents turn up late to pick up their kids & us as coaches have to stay there with the kids untill there picked up but do we (coaches) or the kids start on them no we’re happy to see the kid off home safetly , so please take a leaf out of our book as to much imformation does not help the Kid make his/her own dissision on the park where they only have a split second to make up there mind.

  4. Paula Clarke on April 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    This is a great article!! I have listened to parents shouting at managers/coaches/players etc and it needs to be stopped. As many people forget that our managers/coaches are volunteers and give up their time to teach their kids new skills because they enjoy it. And in turn the kids are there each week in all weathers because they enjoy it.

  5. Chris Horton on April 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    The kind of parents this article is attempting to address are the kind that won’t be reading it!
    There needs to be a mindset change enforced by the FA and local leagues. If there are reports of poor touchline or player behaviour then the local league MUST assign a ref to officiate all future home matches for that team. Only when the league are satisfied from a number of ref reports that lessons have been learned by this team should this “penalty” be lifted. This will no doubt cost that club more money which they will all have to pay for. This should focus their minds re future conduct and may even lead to them policing themselves for fear of being hit in the pocket again.
    I’ve seen it happen in our league and can assure you that it works.
    My question is why is this not National policy/proceedure?

  6. Tim on April 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Coaches of teams at under 10 level who wish to play to a more competitive level should set up their own seperate leagues.This league would involve everything that is counter productive to creating a fair play league and good luck to them.The coaches have all the responsibility for ensuring that their team plays fair and are sporting to their opponents.The other team should always be applauded for good play handshakes should take place at the end of the game and above all respect shown at all times.

  7. Martin M on May 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Excellent article. Lots of common sense which some parents and coaches don’t possess. Sadly the problem isn’t the kids but those adults and I doubt they are reading this article.

  8. dai berry on May 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

    clubs are responsible for parents at matches , so coaches at matches should ask the offending parents to be quiet , yes some parents do go over the top , but in our league swgl , i can honestly say the matches i have attended the parents on whole have acted as they should , now and again you have the odd one , but i have seen coaches/ parents asking them to be quiet .
    so if there is shouting by parents the club are responsible , and can be held to account , and could be fined by the league

  9. Lindsay on May 4, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Please can you provide me with your Secretary and Treasurer’s details

  10. petra on May 4, 2012 at 11:33 am

    my son want play in real football team he is unhappy go just for training.where i can do ask for real team we living in huddersfield thx

  11. John on May 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    In these discussions parents get a raw deal – the large majority of the time there are no problems at kids football, and it does not help to exagerate the problem of abusive parents. When someone steps out of line,other parents should tell them to stop. Taking the mick out of them usually works.

    I am more worried about kids growing up surrounded by parenting ‘experts’ and ‘life coaches’. Kids are tough … up until life coaches tell them they arew vulnerable.

  12. Dad on May 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I help run a youth team on the whole I think most parents show respect. But I have a big issue with the FA “Respect” campaign frankly it’s a waste of money until….

    The premiership players show respect to ref’s, our club recently had a talk from the FA about the campaign and her words were “we have to start from bottom up” frankly that’s not right they have to do both up & down. Starting with the player my kids watch on TV. We all know the issue with that, the FA have no control over the premier league!

    Let’s have it if a premier league player starts wearing sock on their ears our lads will be within days. The Premiership should lead by example.

    Sorry I always get on my high horse about this subject.

  13. Robbie Russell on May 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

    If the SFA are serious and really want to clean up Scottish football they should be setting up roadshows on good and bad behavior in football and targeting every secondary school in the Scotland.. They show have a machine similar to the Portable Cinema that tours the rural areas showing the latest movies..This type of roadshow could do a circuit of tours based in schools for at-least two days so pupils and parents can attend . They should also be providing grassroots money for clubs to purchase portable sideline barriers to stop spectators from standing on the white side lines. RR..

  14. Robbie Russell on May 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

    QUESTION – 1]Should the SFA /SFL be allowed to stop primary and secondary school pupils from playing in and representing their local schools and local football clubs? The present situation where professional football clubs discourage their youth players from playing outwith their club is destroying the fun and social element of playing with their class mates and friends.
    2] should schools retain the old tradition that if your attending school you represent the school in all activities before any other activity outwith the school curriculum?

  15. a mum on August 10, 2012 at 9:23 am

    My son is 7 and loves playing football with his local team but struggles with concentration and us forever getting shouted at by the coach. What can i do to help as it does upset myself and my son. The coach does tend to shout a lot at the kids an gets frustrated with them. When the coach is absent the kids are more relaxed and you can sense that it is calmer and more relaxed. We are also friends with the coach which makes it harder to say anything as it is not just myself as the parent that doesn’t appreciate thw coach shouting at. The kids the way he does. Any advice would be very grateful.

  16. Amanda on June 5, 2013 at 2:16 am

    It’s so annoying how we are meant to stand on a football line clapping and saying nothing at a FOOTBALL MATCH, it is not cricket? Why do coaches have such a problem with parents encouraging the children, I for one am fed up with snotty parents looking turning up to matches faces like thunder players faces like thunder, what happens if these children get into a real football team are the stands full of quiet people………get real! Yes they should not coach them but egging them on is all part of football and it’s the same clubs who complain that there fans aren’t loud enough?

  17. George on July 16, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Hi, my son has just been dropped from his team. the coach did not talk to him about this and my son’s confidence has been badly knocked. He is just entering puberty and could not have happened at a worst time. What could i do.. my son loved playing for his team and the whole social thing with the friends he made there.

Join the discussion