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Have Your Say: Parents Maybe, but Should Coaches Stay Silent Too?

On theSeason, we’ve covered what some consider bad parental behavior before, and whether or not parents should stay largely silent when attending their child’s games. While the debate continues, at least one youth league has actually tried it.

The D.C. Stoddart league in the nation’s capital recently held its first “Silent Soccer” event, in which parents could politely cheer for their children, but that’s it. The goal of Silent Soccer, in the leagues words, was to “let the players enjoy the game of soccer and make decisions on their own.”

Some parents found it difficult to adjust, fighting against instincts to yell out whatever came to their minds. But by all accounts, it was a great experience for the kids, who got to focus just on the game without any other voices to distract them.

Interestingly, those distracting voices included coaches. While English Premier League audiences are used to managers like Jose Mourinho stalking the sidelines and yelling directions to players, nothing of the kind was allowed at Silent Soccer. Coaches had to keep their comments limited to before and after the match and at halftime.

Because parents are often not experts in the sport they’re watching, it’s perhaps understandable to limit their feedback. And even if a parent is an expert, the comments can often turn negative, either directed at the players, coaches, officials or all three.

But should coaches really be silent? The concept of a coach is to teach and guide, offering constructive criticism when necessary. Particularly at young ages, players could be missing out on learning the fundamentals.

What’s Your Take?

Take 1: Let coaches coach

Bad sports parents affect everyone negatively, including coaches. Why should coaches be punished? If a coach sees a tactical error or a player out of position, they should be allowed to correct that in a positive way. Obviously, letting coaches give feedback shouldn’t open to the door to letting them get away with bad behavior. But coaches are entrusted with the responsibility to teach kids and they should be able to do that.

Players may not like to hear what their coach has to say, but sometimes they need to.

Take 2: Coaches are no exception

Let coaches give feedback at halftime. Kids have enough to worry about without someone yelling at them while they’re trying to concentrate; they are not professionals. Anything that needs to be said can wait. It also helps kids develop more of a feel for the game when they are out there on their own. If a coach sees a mistake, he or she can pull the player aside later and help them learn from making that mistake. We all should work together to make youth sports a fun experience for kids, and coaches are a part of that just as much as parents.

So should coaches be a part of the silent movement? Or should they be exempted? Have your say in the comments below.

From GameChanger and Todd Kortemeier

Want to have your say on other topics too? Check out some of our other pieces here.

coaching advice, Youth sports, Coaches and Parents, sport parents, have your say