Be honest. Are you screaming on the sidelines?
Be very honest. Do you think it helps?
A parent asked me if I was a competitive person. My friend who knows me almost choked on his chorizo sandwich. He knew me well enough to know that I hate losing. Always have.
I asked for a bit of clarification from the Mom. She explained, “All of the parents are over in the stands yelling and you are so calm watching the matches.”
She sought a response, so I provided her one.
“I love winning, but I am not playing. There is no reason to yell.”
She was a bit dumbfounded, but I get that a lot when I babble. I took another philosophical step forward as she had not fled quite yet.
“If you look at the field and pretend that all of these children are your children, then what is there to yell about? It is an amazing day. Our children are competing and having a great time playing football. We have already won,” I bumbled in Spanish.
OK. Then she fled.
“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule.” – Thomas Carlyle
I can tell you that yelling is not only ineffective, it is counterproductive to every dream you have as a parent for that little soccer star of yours.
There, I said it.
You are robbing your child of the very experience you probably have paid good money to provide. Who does that? It’s like buying your child a ticket to a movie and then sitting by them yelling out all the good parts.
The good parts in soccer are the worst parts to watch as a parent. Uncertainty, challenges, mistakes, reactions, problem solving, bonding, exasperation and excitement. While you suffer on the sidelines your child is in the midst of a wonderfully chaotic and dynamic experience. They are exactly where and what they should be.
“There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny.” – Octavia Butler
Barring an injury, there is not a whole lot that can go wrong after ninety minutes. One team will lose and one team will win. Our kids go for the win and see where they stand when the whistle blows. Last time I checked, ever time a soccer match has been played throughout history, the sun rose the next day. Every single time.
That converts into a 100% return on the investment to celebrate with respect or to recover with resilience. You as a parent have 100% opportunity to be there for either result and have full power to be the parent your child wants – one that does not attach love to the score line.
So, let me come back to my first question.
Are you screaming on the sidelines?
If your answer is, “Yes,” then stop. Stop now.
I can already hear you justifying why. I can already hear you rationalizing your particular approach. I can hear you because I could be you. I am you. I want to right the wrongs for my child. I want him to score. I want him to feel joy in victory. I want him to avoid the pain of losing. I want him to know I am there, that I love him, that I am his biggest fan. I am you. I have six children and I want to protect them all.
But, let me return to my second question above.
Do you think it helps?
It does not.
No justification, no intelligent counter arguments. No nonsense. Screaming is bad. It is that simple. I did not make it up. Google it.
Schweigen ist golden. Silence is golden.
Wisdom is what comes passed down from screaming parents that have come before us. I used to think it helps. It does not. Trust me.
There are times when silence is golden, and one of those times is at hand. – Horatio Alger
From the perspective of talent development, we must know that there is not enough time for children to process all of the variables of play before them and listen to your opinions. They will learn from the game. They will learn through trial and error. They will learn from a well-timed and prudent comment from a caring coach.
So, when you go to the next match try looking up at the sun and looking down from above to see a whirlwind of positive, healthy activity before you. Look at each child on the pitch as your own child. I mean all children on both teams.
And when you squint through the sun’s rays and divorce yourself from the scoreboard for just a moment, you will find solace in silence. And more importantly, your children will find themselves.
Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom. – Francis Bacon
Give it one match. One silent Saturday. If the sun does not rise the day after, I want you to call me and I will fly you to Spain to find it. It is here sleeping, waiting for you to be at peace enough to enjoy it as it shines upon your children playing.
Find our more about the author, his player and coach programs, and follow his work at TOVO Academy Barcelona
The Sideline Project is a unique program from the Soccer Parenting Association that engages and educates parents about sideline communication. It is an effort to put an end to the distracting and hostile communication on the sidelines so our children can thrive. LEARN MORE HERE