Sideline Etiquette for Parents

When young soccer players are actively engaged in a fast-paced game, they are focused on making quick decisions as they scurry across the field. At times, a player may be distracted by disruptive sideline behavior or boisterous parents in the stands. While most parents act with only their child’s best interest in mind, their lack of sideline etiquette can have a negative impact on their child’s enjoyment of the game.

Soccer Sideline Etiquette

Youth soccer coaches agree that many parents in the stands could improve their sideline behavior. It is not uncommon for coaches to have to teach adults how to act during games. Letters are sent often citing improper conduct and stressing positive coaching.

When supporting your child during soccer practice or at a game, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  1. Don’t attempt to coach your child from the sideline.

    Impulsive parents who shout out instructions from the sideline are a big problem in youth soccer. It is difficult for young players who tend to obey whatever their parent tells them to do, regardless if it conflicts with the coaches’ instructions. It is like being in a room and having a bunch of people yelling at you, telling you to run in different directions. This causes a lot of turmoil and confusion for a child.

  2. Don’t criticize the referee.

    Sometimes a referee will make a mistake, everyone does at some time. It is bad sideline etiquette to attack the referee for what a parent may perceive as an error in judgment. This type of sideline behavior makes the experience more about the grown-ups and less about the kids.

  3. Focus on having fun, not on winning.

    So many parents are so focused on the scores, they forget it should be about enjoying a positive experience. There is so much more to gain from playing youth soccer, than just achieving a win. Although it is natural to want to come out on top, parents in the stands need to keep their eyes on the big picture.

  4. Think before speaking to the opposing side.

    This should be a no-brainer, but too many grown men and women don’t do it, especially in a heated situation. Adults should be able to enjoy their child’s game without any confrontations. Don’t ever make a spectacle of yourself over a youth soccer game. Think about how your child feels. Is this behavior you want your child to mimic?

  5. Don’t allow yourself to get worked up over a game.

    Are you someone who paces back and forth, waiting anxiously for the action to unfold? Do you worry about how well your kid is going to play, or if the coach is up to par? If so, take a deep breath and calm down. It isn’t even your game, so stop being so caught up in it and instead enjoy watching your child play.

  6. Address coaching issues on another day.

    You might not agree with every coaching decision. Perhaps you thought your child should have gotten to play more, or you didn’t like how the coach handled a dispute between players. It is more productive to hold off, cool down, and think the situation through before you confront the coach. Never attack or approach the coach after a game when your child and the rest of the team are present.