Parents – to shout or not to shout?

Is it always good for parents to shout from the touchline at a football game? And how does their involvement affect their child? Kids Coach Naomi Richards takes a look.

When it comes to children playing football it certainly requires lots of commitment and energy from the parents.

Most parents love watching their children play and can become incredibly passionate about the games, almost as if they were the ones that were playing themselves.

The majority of parents are happy to watch at practice and at games and talk amongst their friends and other parents. It can be a great opportunity to catch up.

Other parents like to be more involved and shout words of encouragement from the sidelines.

They may also shout words of advice on what their child needs to do next: who they should pass to, what they should look out for.

It’s lovely to hear parents being encouraging but the giving advice could probably be held back on and here is the rationale as to why.

There are some children who just want to get on and play the game in their own way. They want to make their own decisions and want to work out what they should be doing next, whether they act on impulse or make an informed decision – possibly through the use of the coach – of when to tackle, who to pass to etc..

Decision making is an essential part of growing up and with it brings responsibility and a healthy self-esteem. For most, if not all parents, this is what we want for our children – to think on their feet and be responsible for their actions.

It can also be quite embarrassing for a child when their parent is the only one shouting instructions to them from the side lines and children generally want to feel like they fit in and not stand out. No child likes an embarrassing parent!

When it comes to shouting praise, it might feel like the natural thing to do and getting praise on the field – “well done”, “good pass” – should feel good for any young player, but it might not always be the best thing for your child.

Some parents might encourage actions on the pitch that the coach is trying to avoid, such as shouting “‘great clearance” when the coach is trying to encourage kids to pass the ball out from defence or try something a bit more creative.

If a child hears both the coach and the parent shouting, they could be confused as to what they should be doing and possibly panic. The coach is there to support and guide and it is much easier for the child to hear one voice rather than two he recognises.

Parental support is crucial for any child who wants to play football but, when it comes to shouting from the sidelines, think before you speak and consider whether shouting out is the best way to support your child at that time.

Naomi Richards is The Kids Coach – a life coach for children. Her first book, ‘The Parents Toolkit’, was published this year. To find out more visit or follow @thekidscoach.

Put your questions to The Kids Coach

If you’ve got a question for Naomi or would like to hear advice on a particular topic relating to young footballers, please leave a comment below, email us at [email protected] or tweet Naomi at @thekidscoach.

Whether it’s about how we can take pressure off kids after a game, teaching them acceptance and tolerance of other members of the team or something completely different, tell us what you’d like to read about in Naomi’s next column.

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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.

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  1. Stephen Jones on May 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I am one of those parents that shout encouagement and highly technical tactical advice at times i have even wondered why England and a top premier league side have nt knocked my door down however having just read that article i think i will save my football expertise to advising Roy hodgson during the European championships by way of the Tele via the sofa

  2. Ray on May 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I don’t mind the occasional shout by a parent. but when it’s all through the game, it gets very annoying to others.
    I especially don’t like parents who try and shout the referee down, even if it seems the ref has got it wrong.
    More often, and it’s getting worse now, is the abusive language that officials get.
    Time to red card those parents and send them away from the pitches.

  3. Chris Horton on May 31, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Unfortunately I suspect those parents who will read this article and take note are not those it is attempting to target.
    I think Colts Leagues should take a leaf out the Accadamies. Watch, clap but say nothing. You are the spectator side for a reason-to spectate, not to coach, they are standing the other side.
    I would suggest all Colts Leagues in their handbooks request all coaches to advise spectators of there role-to spectate & clap, nothing else is required of them or desired.
    This simple clarification I think would go a long way to address some of the issues. If a parent is the only one standing the spectator side shouting, they are going to look pity stupid when all the others drown them out with applause! Just a suggestion to improve the match experience for the children.

  4. Charles Gale on May 31, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    This is a very interesting acticle indeed.
    I watch my grandson play and I lsten to well meaning parents advising thier kids what to do when on the ball.
    I have often told them ,”are you sure that is what thier coach has instructed them to do “.
    one thing though may prove difficult is not to cheer when a goal is scored for their team!
    I will show this artical to all of the parents and then watch for any change over the comming season.

  5. Colin Cliff on May 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    I have experience from both sides of this this subject as I,as a parent also take part in training sessions and coaching/advice from the sidelines for both my sons at different age levels. I whole heartedly agree with what is being said, however I think it will be almost impossible to stop the extra/contradictory coaching/advice from parents. As an adhoc coach/ trainer all clubs need as much parental help and input as possible as the people who take full responsibility for teams and all that goes with it deserve all the help they can get as they are the real unsung heroes of grass roots football, as long as they are encouraging all of our children to play the game in the correct manner, i.e. from the goallies hands, on the ground, pass and move, multiple positions played and focus on performance/progression instead of results. It is the only way to encourage our kids to play.

  6. M78 on May 31, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    What if the coach doesn’t coach and just “babysits?” how is the child going to develop? #devilsadvocate

  7. Eddie Lambe on May 31, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    It is very encouraging that England has at last implemented changes to bring us into line with Europe (5-v-5 / 9-v-9, etc) and this will help long term with the children’s development and hopefully in about 10-years England as a nation should also see the benefit.

    Their are however a few more fundamental changes which should happen now and will also have as big an impact on the game in this country at Grass Roots level as the above – The main one being that parents should take a serious look at themselves and what effect they have on their children when “supporting” from the sidelines.

    I have a boy playing for a grass roots/club team and a daughter at an academy and can see the massive difference in the way parents ‘are allowed’ to conduct themselves and what this does to a child and their confidence.

    One of the best things I ever did was to take my 1st step on the coaching ladder as this gives you a very different perspective on how to conduct yourself as a parent – The biggest ‘wake up’ call was having to undertake the Respect campaign on line and I strongly urge every parent who is serious about their child’s development and fun of the game to the same.

    I could write on this subject for hours however anyone who is any doubt and is serious about supporting their child in the correct way please take time to look at the following link;

  8. Bozzie on June 1, 2012 at 12:10 am

    The mini-soccer/youth coach is there to guide the players through the match, not orchestrate or choreograph but GUIDE, by helping the players to recognise and benefit from learning and problem solving opportunities. Parents should be encouraged to support their child and his/her team AND the opponents through encouragement ‘after’ an event…’great pass’, ‘good goal’, ‘fantastic shot’….

    This creates an environment that can only be beneficial to young players as they feel safe and can play without fear of being ‘told off’ for making a mistake or trying something new…and then you begin to see the magic of ‘kids’ football 🙂

    Unfortunately I believe that nothing will really change in ‘kids’ football until the measurement of success is not simply the final score. Success can be measured in so many other ways: individual development & team development being just two…

  9. j,r,hartley on June 1, 2012 at 12:57 am

    i have seen some bad parents and coaches this year, and the coaches are the worst, the clubs need to sort the coaches out , or the ref needs more power to be able to report them to there own clubs, the clubs should either sort there coaches out or replace them, and i have seen a few that need replaceing, but this will not happen as long as league officials are from the clubs that get away with it week in week out, but as corrupt officals run the leagues for there own teams it will not change.or they make rules up by phone calls rather than committie in other words between friends rather than full committies as it suits there clubs

  10. Chris Kirkham on June 1, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Yes is so bad at times , I wrote a book about it!!

  11. jaqui on June 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    This is to chris kirkham, if youve wrote a book on this i would love to read it. whats it called.

  12. Don on June 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Chris Horton, you are of course correct. I am a grandfather who played at a respectable level when younger, I watched my son play from a very young age and would despair at the attitude of some parents. They seemed to be reliving their own (failed) careers as footballers through their children’s efforts, forgetting that they are there for one reason only and that is to watch the kids enjoy themselves.
    I now watch my 8 year old grandson playing occasionally and although parental attitudes have improved there is still some way to go.

  13. Mrs Bod on July 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    My son has just moved teams and the parents at the old team were sometimes a problem. One in particular used to ‘support’ his child, not the rest of the team, constantly shouting instructions to run with the ball, score a goal, take it on.
    He also never once shouted support for the other children who did a good cross or scored a goal.
    I just love watching the kids play and grow in confidence. My secret to helping my son is to tell him that it doesn’t matter what the result is, it doesn’t matter who scores the goals, as long as they all enjoy it and try their best.

  14. John Speck on December 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    A coach is in charge of a team and parents should just button-it. Kids need to focus on the game and if they are to listen, they can only listen to one instructor as two will bring mixed messages. There can be no debate about this: if you disagree, invite 2 friends into the back if your car on the way to matches to advise you on your driving and see how it feels.

    Kids need to be able to make their own decisions on a football pitch, right or wrong. They need the freedom to be creative and inventive, and sometimes dribble with the ball without fear of failure and criticism. It’s the kids game, after all. If parents have strong views on how to play football they should just go play it with some mates, or do a coaching course to check whether their rants are vacuous rubbish.

  15. Sj on June 18, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    When my son first joined a team, I used to think the sideline shouting was crazy, until our boy got amazing & his team started winning every game, the support is always positive, & our amazing coach often tells us certain instructions to encourage our boys, due to this, we are probably quite annoying! We have a great relationship & our boys are gracious in victory & defeat! We always cheer opponents & clap for great skills. Can’t see the harm, as long as it’s not aggressive or swearing.

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