A child’s parents have perhaps the greatest influence on their fun and progression in football. While the team manager can help to improve a player’s technique, it is the parent who has the biggest impact on the player’s attitude, ambition and desire.

Most parents have good intentions when supporting and helping their child to develop, though at times can get carried away and are emotionally caught up in the moment of the match. We have all heard the pushy parent shout and scream on the touchline, barking out instructions to their child, while failing to see that there are a number of other players in the team, and where this behaviour may seem as encouragement to them, it very often has the opposite effect, both for their own child and the team mates around them.

What is wrong with a parent giving encouragement and instructions to their child from the touchline ? Many keen and interested parents do this but, there’s a difference between encouraging a child and telling them what they should have done. Some parents find it a lot easier to tell a child their mistakes rather than encouraging them on their good play.

The next time you are at a junior football match, listen to yourself or nearby parent and make a note of how often you encourage or instruct ? Despite all the best intentions the pressure the parent puts the child under and themselves can have a negative effect and cause the player’s performance to drop, and in the worst case cause the young player to give up the game completely. This is not as uncommon as it may seem, and there is a long list of very good young footballers no longer playing, not because of their lack of ability but because of parent pressure for them to do well.

It is not easy, but parents have a very important role in the development of the youth footballer. It’s important that the parent listens to the child’s needs and understands they are growing both physically and emotionally. The parent needs to be supportive by encouraging and not be critical or point out faults.

Children are quick to pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues made by the adults in their lives.
When a child comes home from a game, parents send a distinct message with… Did you win ?

They send a much different message by asking…
Did you have fun ? Did you do your best ? and Did you learn something today ?

The last three questions teach children to measure success by internal factors within their control (such as whether they hustled or improved a skill), rather than by external factors beyond their control (such as whether the other team was more talented).
The players are children still learning the game. They’re not seasoned professionals with 10 years professional coaching behind them.
Have you considered that they may not even understand some of the basic instructions… Man On – Down the Line – Time – Get Stuck In.
Imagine what’s going through a child’s mind if they’ve never been taught the meaning of such expressions.

Answer the following questions and compare the answers
1… When you’re playing away from home, do you think the opponents referee cheats ?
2… When you’re playing at home do you think your teams referee cheats ?
If your answer is not the same for both, you need to think about the questions more carefully