Irish Grassroots Football Soccer Parents

A Players Message To Parents

I’m not sure of the originality of this I think I first saw it on a Youth Football Scotland back in 2013 but I have since edited it.

Thanks for coming to support our team today. I want you to remember a few things that will help with our performance:

I play the game because it’s fun, I want to Learn and Improve. You can help all the players, and I by encouraging us.

You are here representing our family and I; please don’t embarrass me by being negative, by shouting or swearing.

Praise me for trying a skill, good discipline, sportsmanship and my effort. These are the things that make me a real winner and better player.

Don’t criticise my mistakes or talk about me on the sideline, I will be scared to try things again. Mistakes are what help me improve, I will learn from them.

Please don’t stand to close to the sideline, as this will distract the players and I from concentrating on the things we should be doing during the game.

Please respect the referee, don’t question the decisions. They may not always get it right, like us they are trying and doing their best.

Sometimes, there are no referees, please don’t questions any decisions. My Coach will help, if we need it.

Please don’t coach me from the sideline or walk up and down the line. My coach is here to help, if we need it.

You don’t shout over my teacher in school, so please don’t shout over my coach. He/she has given us a set of instructions to follow.

Please do not challenge any spectators who behave in the wrong way. Just tell them that we don’t allow negative behaviour like that here.

Doing my best and learning how to play is an important part of my development. We all (the kids) want to win but having fun and improving is much more important to us.

There are no scores recorded and even when they are, don’t ask me about the result. Ask me, ‘how I played and if I had fun’. You can also say “I love watching you play” because really that’s all I need to you to say.

You can download a pdf of it HERE


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Soccer Parents

Parents in Sport Week – PLAY YOUR PART – 3-9th October

Parents in Sport Week will take place from 3 to 9 October 2016. This week will focus on how parents can greatly influence a child’s experience in sport through their actions, both positive and negative. 

In the build-up and during parent’s week 2016, we hope sports organisations make sure the message regarding a parent’s or carer’s role within sport focuses on the positive impact that they have on their child or children.

All too often we only hear negative stories about extreme poor behaviour from the side-lines. This negative parental behaviour takes away from a child’s experience of sport or their desire to continue participating within sport, as they no longer see taking part in sport as fun.

Child Protection In Sport Unit want help from sports organisations to raise awareness of the crucial role parents have in helping a child reach their full potential.

3 key outcomes

The key outcomes that Parents in Sport Week aims to achieve are:

  1. To encourage sports organisations and clubs to promote the positive role parents play in helping children reach their full potential
  2. To empower parents by sharing information regarding key roles they can do as a sports parent in supporting their child’s participation, success and fun, and therefore retaining a child’s interest in sport
  3. To assist coaches and officials to understand the crucial role parents have in a child’s participation and continued involvement in sport

They have useful guidance for coaches regarding welcoming and appreciating parents, to assist in those initial conversations about roles and expectations, but also on how to have difficult discussions when things are not going well.

Further information

Related resources

Book a place on the free webinar, Promoting positive parenting in sport, which covers how parents can support children to enjoy sport and achieve to the best of their ability. It takes place on 7 October 2016.


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Silent Sideline Soccer Parents

Sideline supporters have no right to direct negative talk towards the players…

Parents, Adults or any person in fact have no rights to abuse or sound negative towards children playing the game they love. I have had issue with some of my own parents and I’be witnessed many others who have verbally abused a player whilst playing the game. These parents might think they mean well and could assume they are developing mental toughness…. but they are so far from the truth – what they are really doing is destroying the child’s love for the game.

What gives these Adults the right to criticise children trying to make decisions in a pressurised environment. If you screamed and shouted at a child outside youth sports environment you would be apprehended immediately but why do we allow this to happen in what children also see as a playground??

The worst offenders are ego-driven parents who take personally any slights to their children on the pitch. Any decision gone against their child, any foul; a pass that should have gone to their future star instead it didn’t arrive or it went to someone else; a free-kick or a corner taken by someone else. These are all situations when the ego-parent goes nuts and vents their anger.

All that a side, their are some absolutely brilliant parents out there who give up so much time to bring their kids to and from training and never interfere in their kids football, but these can be mostly few now.

Clubs and coaches need to do more and come down hard on Adults who criticise kids from the sidelines. Maybe we should pre-warn parents and tell them, “you might get angry on the side lines and attached are some tips to deal with it’. Below are some excerpts from a study about parent behaviour on the sidelines, mostly from the US.

A recent study showed – by Jay D. Goldstein

Overall, about half of the parents in the study reported getting angry during games, and nearly 40 percent of the angry parents made their emotions known. These sideline expressions ranged from muttering or yelling comments to walking onto or near the pitch.

“Their own sense of their personal worth gets wrapped up in how their children are doing in these ball games,” said Edward Deci, a psychologist at the University of Rochester in New York. ” And so the parents feel intense, internal pressure to see their kids performing because the kids are like extensions of themselves.”

Coach: ” so what is your favourite position? “
Player: ” Center Midfield”
Coach: ” Interesting. Is that because you see yourself as a good playmaker and stopper? “
Player: ” No its because my dad is one side and my coach is on the other and sometimes if i’m in midfield, I can’t hear either of them”.

340 parents of 8- to 15-year-old soccer players were evaluated on personality and ego characteristics, feelings of anger and pressure, and aggressive behaviour. The Results showed:

  • 47% of parents reported no anger-causing events while watching their kids play.
  • 53% did get angry.

Of those who did feel anger, what made them flare up?

  • 19% blamed the referee.
  • 15% said they got angry at how their kid’s team played.
  • 7% said the opponents behaved badly.
  • 5% reported hostile remarks set them off.
  • 5% blamed coaches.

Researchers concluded that the effect of ego defensiveness and taking things personally was strongly linked to feelings of anger and aggressive actions. Those who were more “control-oriented” were more ego defensive. They viewed actions in the football game as attacks against them or their children.

“In general, control-oriented people are the kind who try to ‘keep up with the Joneses,'” Goldstein said in a news release.”They have a harder time controlling their reactions. They more quickly become one of ‘those’ parents than the parents who are able to separate their ego from their kids and events on the field.”

Goldstein calls parents who are more even-keeled and able to regulate their emotions “autonomy-oriented parents.” They get angry too, he says, and when they do it’s because their ego gets in the way.

“While they’re more able to control it, once they react to the psychological trigger, the train has already left the station.”

HERE ARE SOME TIPS: To ease anger on the playing field, Goldstein suggests these tips:

  • Take deep breaths (inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds).
  • Suck on a lollipop. (Occupies your mouth and reminds you that you’re there for your child.)
  • Visualize a relaxing experience like floating on water.
  • Repeat a calm word or phrase.
  • Do yoga-like muscle stretches.
  • Replace angry thoughts with rational ones, such as “This is my child’s game, not mine,” or “Mistakes are opportunities to learn.”
  • Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head. Count to 10 and think about possible responses.
  • If you did not see the game, first ask your child “How did you play?” rather than “Did you win?”
  • Praise your child’s effort, and then, maybe, comment on the results.
  • Use humour, but avoid harsh or sarcastic humour.

Mistakes are part of the process: and kids shouldn’t be ridiculed for trying. The level of abuse, bullying and over coaching in kids sports is now at an all time high. We need to educate adults on stages of development and stop forcing the process. As ADULTS we expect far too much from children at a very young age. Children are not mini-adult. We need to get away from the Yell and Tell culture that is now rampant in our kids game. It is better to give positive encouragement, refrain from criticism (constructive is ok) and leave the instructions to the coach. Even continually shouting positives messages can have a negative impact as it thwarts the child’s concentration. Make constructive criticism kid friendly, by coaching it in positives and always giving the feedback in private. When kids make a mistake, help them move past it by having them adopt a “mistake ritual,” a quick action that helps them move beyond the mess-up.

  • Children when given control over their game are more likely to enjoy the game more and stay playing for longer and will embrace the process more rather than focus on the result.
  • This can also allow them to focus longer on getting better and to develop an interest outside of training, where they will challenge themselves to work harder and get better (=More success). Children will learn to value their game more.
  • Kids CAN control their effort, their commitment, and their emotions, and as parents if we focus our pushing on those areas we will not strain our relationship with our them.
  • If you find yourself saying “we scored 3 goals today, we won that game, we won the league” chances are you have not let your them go.  Let the game belong to them!


More needs to be done in the area of parenting in sport. Parents don’t shout over the teacher in school, so why do they feel they have the right to shout over the coach. They don’t shout at kids in the playground or young children standing idle because if they did they would be reported and labeled as a bully.

How many times, have you seen a team where the coach has decided to have their defence drop when they lose the ball, so that the midfield can recover but then the parents on the sideline are screaming “press”, “press”? The players become confused the distraction could be critical in the teams play and players concentration.

Ask any child, ‘what they think about their parents shouting on the sideline’? and you will get some very interesting answers.

Some that come to mind, “it’s so embarrassing”, “I hate it”, “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about”, “I wish they wouldn’t come to my games”

“By constantly coaching and correcting our kids in the game we are unconsciously, but almost certainly, guaranteeing poor and deteriorating performance. We are taking them away from that unconscious, focused mental state where they need to be to excel”. – Inside Soccer

Parents need to educate themselves with the help of the clubs and leagues on how to behave pitch side. I don’t understand how parents think it’s ok to verbally abuse children on a playing field yet they wouldn’t dream of telling a kid off in a playground. Well, just in case you didn’t notice or weren’t told ‘the football pitch’ is also a play ground, guys!

Just because things happened certain way when they were younger, it doesn’t mean it has to happen that way now. I think it’s about time some parents kept quiet and let the kids play…. We are adapting to a different generation of children, so back OFF!!!

Here are 20 guidelines for what is appropriate on the Sideline:

  1. Children should be seen as people first and players second.
  2. Be patient. Not all kids progress at the same rate and learning the game of football takes more time than most people realise.
  3. Praise their effort and decisions making. These are the things they can control. They can’t control winning or losing.
  4. Do not ridicule a child for making a mistake, not performing to their best or losing a game.
  5. Never criticise a child over their performance – they won’t always play their best. Help them see past the bad performance by providing constructive feedback.
  6. Remain calm on the sideline at all times. Losing the plot will only embarrass them and make you look like a total fool.
  7. Prowling the sideline like an angry Tiger and questioning every single decision and coaching your child through the game is definitely something you should NEVER do.
  8. Support the coaching staff and refrain from criticising them at all times.
  9. Parents need to look at what these coaches do, how much effort they put into helping other peoples children. Without them we would not have a game, so don’t be quick to judge them. As a parent, once you are confident that your child is in a safe learning environment, one of the most important things you can do as a parent of a young player is to let them go and let their sports experience belong to them.
  10. Never use derogatory comments towards players or coaches. You might feel others are agreeing with you but really they are now talking about you and it always gets back to the coaching staff in the end.
  11. Whilst watching the game, back off and let them play. Stand back away from the action and enjoy the moments.
  12. Parents should say less and see more. Your child wants you there but they don’t need your input every-time they look your way. A simple thumbs up can inspire your child in any given game.
  13. What they see and what you see is a different picture learn to understand that the game looks different from the sidelines.
  14. Children make two conscious DECISIONS per second. Sideline information prevents children from making a quick decision or deciding on one. The brain works in milliseconds and the game in seconds.
  15. Under no circumstances should you use foul and abusive language.
  16. Don’t get drunk on your kids success.
  17. Allow the kids fall in love with game.
  18. Allow them to be children, enjoying all the FUN elements of the game, so that they can mature into the adult game gradually and naturally.
  19. If you control everything your child does, they will never take on responsibility.
  20. Respect the officials and remember the opposition are children and the coaches are volunteers.



Research: Inside soccer, University of Maryland, Dr. Goldstein, Changing the game project

Pic and Video: shows top actor Ray Winstone playing a shouting parent for the English FA Video.


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me and if you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend.

As always, thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter  @Coachdiary

Soccer Parents

A letter to my son’s coach

A letter written by Still Chasing Fireflies, Mary Ann


To My Son’s Soccer Coach:

Last weekend, after the final game of the season, you posed with my son and his seven teammates in front of the goal for some team pictures. There you were, one man towering over eight little boys with their arms linked like a chain, big smiles on each face. You tolerated the parent paparazzi and even humored the boys with a crazy-face picture. You didn’t complain; you just acted like a nine-year-old, too, but I’m pretty sure that you were glad when the photo session was over.

Coach, lots of kids play soccer these days, and many of them have similar pictures on the shelves in their rooms. But to my son, this picture – this team, this experience – it is all so special. This team picture represents so much more than just the hours that he spent kicking a ball around with some friends. It is bigger than his successes and his mistakes on the field. It is more significant than the assists that he made or the points that he defended or the breakaways that he finished. And every time I see that picture, Coach, I wonder if you know, if you really understand, just how much you mean to my kid.

My son is a lucky guy. He has some great men in his life, men of integrity, who are training him to be a great man, too. His dad is always cheering on the sidelines. His grandpas love him more than words. His uncles spoil him with gifts and attention. But there is something about you, the other man in his life, that matters to him so much. There is something there that is hard to explain, something special about the relationship between a boy and his coach. I don’t know if you feel it, Coach, but I know that he does, and I hear that the other boys do, too.

soccer-boys FirefliesYou should know that my son, like most little boys, complains about a lot of things. He complains about homework. He complains about taking care of the dog. He complains about brushing his teeth at night. But one thing that he never complains about is going to practice. Every cell in that kid’s body desires to work hard and play hard with his team. He is hungry to learn and to improve for himself and his friends. If he doesn’t feel well and can’t attend school, no problem, but just the thought of missing a practice or a game can reduce my little man to tears. His team gives him a drive and a purpose, and you set the positive tone for that. You teach him to sweat, to show leadership, and to strive to improve. You teach him to persevere when things aren’t easy. You teach him what the give and take of being a teammate really means. These aren’t just lessons that are important in soccer; these are lessons that will guide him for the rest of his life.

Listen, Coach, I live with two little boys, and I know how frustrating they can be. I’m guessing you’ve already noticed, but sometimes they don’t listen. Okay, let’s be honest:A lot of the time, they don’t listen. They can be looking right into your eyes, nodding in agreement, and still not be paying attention to a single word that you’ve said. I’ve been there, Coach; I get it. I also know that they are easily distracted. SO easily distracted! I imagine that if a squirrel runs by or an airplane flies overhead during practice, you probably lose ten minutes just trying to get eight little boys back on track. Then there’s that little boy thing where they can’t keep their hands off each other. I don’t understand it, but I live with them, and I know that even the simplest, quietest activity always ends in wrestle mania. And let’s not forget that sometimes little boys can be insensitive with their words while at the same time being incredibly sensitive with their feelings. Stir all of this craziness into a pot, and the fact that you accomplish anything in the short amount of time that you spend with these animals is something amazing. And you keep coming back week after week, Coach. I guess, like us parents, you also see their joy, their innocence, their loyalty, their honesty, and their pure, undefiled love of the game. Thanks, Coach, for focusing on the positive when my kid tries your patience, and I know that he and his friends sometimes do.

Your time coaching our son is busy, and our evenings are often a rush, so we don’t have many opportunities to talk to you, but I want you to know that we see what you do. You might think that we parents are judging you by the wins and the scores, but that’s not really true. Sure, we want our team to be competitive, we want to see our children grow, but we have entrusted you with our greatest treasures, so there are lots of other things that matter from the sideline. Like that time you put your arm around my son while he was sitting on the bench. Do you remember? Probably not. But I do, and I promise I won’t forget that moment. It mattered to me more than anything else in that game. I’m telling you, I notice.

Every fist bump that you’ve given him when he runs off the field.

Every pat on the back that you’ve shared when he’s having a rough game.

Every serious, one-on-one consultation on the sidelines.

Every team huddle and chant.

Every time you have stood up for a player on our team.

Every time my son has deserved your frustration but received your caring instruction instead.

And then there were the times when a player was injured and you immediately ran to his aid. Do you have any idea how agonizing it is for a mom to allow someone else to be the first responder when her child is hurt just a few feet away? But I know that my son would find comfort in you if he were suffering, and that matters more to me than the score.

There were highlights this season, moments when my son’s skills shined and his contributions made a huge difference to his team’s success. You were the first one to congratulate him on those occasions, and that meant so much. And there were times, like every player experiences, when he did not play his best. We all saw it, Coach. I don’t know why he was having a bad day, but I do know that he didn’t want to disappoint you. I saw how you treated him when he was already down. You saw him for what he is, a kid with skills that are still developing, a kid who doesn’t always perform on cue. He could have been an easy target for a frustrated coach, but you didn’t even yell at him. You encouraged him. You instructed him. You motivated him to keep trying and to want to improve at the game that he loves.

Here’s the thing, Coach. We aren’t trying to raise a world-class athlete here, although we do encourage our boys to follow their dreams. We are trying to raise a man, a man who works hard and plays fair, a man who learns from his mistakes and always perseveres, a man who encourages others and shows compassion and shares grace. A man like his dad and his granddads. A man like you.

Thank you for showing my kid that soccer, as much as he loves it, is just a game, but being a part of a productive, positive team can be his real life.

Thank you for being a part of OUR team.


A Soccer Mom

Content and picture by Mary Ann


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Coaching Soccer Parents

Let Us Play – How adults are damaging kids sports

A fascinating and extremely informative podcast from BBC 5 live Sport. Please share this with coaches and parents at your club. Includes tips from psychologists and stories from pushy, competitive parents and much more…

How much pressure is too much?

Olympian Karen Pickering delves into the world of children’s sport and the part their parents play.

She hears from Kevin, a football Dad forced to change his ways when he realised how unhappy he was making his son; a 10 year-old swimmer who was so good that other parents booed her at a competition; and a former professional Ice Hockey player, whose Dad physically and emotionally abused him for years.

Let Us Play also looks at what parents can do to make sure they’re supportive, rather than pushy, with their children and the sport they participate in.

Click to podcast here >> Let Us Play or on Itunes Let Us Play


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Irish Grassroots Football Soccer Parents

Stick at it!! Is a great life lesson to teach any kid

I receive emails and messages from parents and coaches all the time and I’m always delighted to receive them because I know how much effort it takes for people to write them and then hit the send button.

I got one this morning after a mother had read the Please Don’t Quit post. Her son was being harshly treated and not getting a fair chance to play.

In her words:

Good morning,
I just read the article on don’t Quit, I just want to say it’s very good. We have been through a really hard time with our 10yr old son who was playing with a well known club since he was in their academy. In his last year his manager treated him horrendously, constantly picking on him & two other boy’s.

Refusing to play them, leaving them standing in the cold, telling them they were not as good as other players, not fit enough for a full game etc etc.. They we’re all equally as good as each other the seven player’s on the team including the manager’s son played every minute of every game. I could go on all day with a list of thing’s!

The effect that the bullying had on our son was horrible, he was very sick & very self conscious he wasn’t eating for us or interacting with family or friends. It really was an awful time for everyone.

We did go to the club & to the child welfare officer about the situation & he was well aware of what the manager was like as he had a reputation for it and had done the same to a lot of kid’s and  moved them on.

They tried their best to get rid of him from the club, they had a committee meeting and he was saved by two votes. Which was an absolute joke, they knew the kid’s were been bullied so he should have been removed from the club.

We had to wait until the end of the season to move our son and we did, he’s now playing for another well know club and he’s absolutely striving. He is like a completely different child, oozing with confidence again and getting plenty of playing time with his new team mate’s!!

His school teacher called us a couple of weeks ago and asked us if we had done something different with him, as he was like a new child. We explained what had happened and that we moved him to a new club, she said it was like a puzzle coming together all his school work had improved.

The bullying had a really bad effect on him and everything was suffering because of it. Moving him was the best move we ever made, we had thought about taking him out all together but he’s so happy again. I think it has made him a stronger person and he knows himself what went on and realises that he stayed strong, fought through it and didn’t let it knock him back.

Most of all he never Quit …!!

I can’t fit everything into this email as there is so much….

But I definitely don’t think there is not enough awareness about bullying in schoolboy football, it could have been a lot worse for our son but we saw the signs early & got help as quick as we could.
He still talks about it every now & then I don’t think it will ever leave him, but like I said I hope it makes him a stronger person.

I hope you don’t mind me sending this to you!

A Mother and Sideline Supporter


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Coaching Soccer Parents

Please Don’t Quit

We have all heard the stories of kids quitting. Research suggests that around 70% of children are dropping out of organised sports by the age of 13 and the stats are even higher for girls.

Many other things contribute to kids leaving sport, but the number one reason is it was no longer FUN!!

Now fun can be categorised into lots of meanings. It’s still the number 1 reason they leave.

In a 2014 study for George Washington University, researcher Amanda Visik interviewed numerous athletes and asked them why they played sports, and 9 out of 10 said the 1 reason they played was it was fun…

They defined fun:

  1. As trying their best,
  2. Being treated respectfully by coaches, parents and teammates,
  3. Getting playing time.

They listed eighty-one characteristics of fun, and winning (#48), playing tournaments (#63) and practicing with private trainers (#66) did not finish high on the list.

Here is what kids wanted What kids say is most fun!

The reason for this post is that I came across and great response from a coach to a child (Chris) age 11 who wanted to quit playing football.

It’s starts Here > Hello Coach Leath, 

My dad says I can’t quit my team, but I don’t want to play football anymore. All I do is sit on the bench during the games. What should I do?

Your Friend,

Chris, 11

Dear Chris,

Congratulations on making the football team. Believe it or not, the first year I tried out for football I did not make the team. I remember how sad I was when the coach read off the names of the kids who would be playing that year. I tried out the next year and sat on the bench during most of the games, only playing a few plays. But I knew I would not play in the games. The other players were bigger and better than I was, so why would coach put me in?

So, instead of complaining about playing time, I decided to make practice my games. Every Tuesday and Thursday I would prepare for practice as if I was going to be playing a game. I went all out on the scout team, knowing that the harder I was to block in practice, the better my team would do in the game. When they did well in the game, I took pride in knowing I helped them prepare.

Practice was hard, Chris. I got knocked down, a lot. I was scared, but I tried not to let the other players know how scared I was. Some of the players hit really hard and the noise alone made me want to quit.

After a few weeks I got better and was less afraid. I made some friends on the team and started to have fun. I still got knocked down, and I wasn’t very good, but I realized what a privilege it was to be on the team. I promised myself I would finish the season and then decide if I wanted to play again.

Also, I thought I was letting my dad down by not starting. When I told him I was embarrassed because I sat the bench, he told me he was proud that I made the team, and that he loved to watch me go all out in practice. That helped a lot knowing that my dad just loved to watch me practice.

The next year, you know what? I was one of the best players on the team. I was voted team captain and rarely came out of the game. I am not saying this will happen for you, but I am telling you that in order to be good at something, you have to be okay with being bad at it first. Then you get better. Always aim to get better, no matter what you do in life.

I want to encourage you to finish the season. You don’t have to play next year, but you should follow through with your commitment and try to have as much fun while you are there. Please don’t quit.

Stay Curious,

Coach Leath


the noral of the story is never quit, never give up and alsways finish something you’ve started. See it out where at all possible.

You can check out James Leath blog here and he’s also on Twitter @jamesleath

I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary