Campaign Irish Grassroots Football Silent Sideline

SHHhhhh ‘just, let them play’ Silent Sideline

I first heard about this idea some years back even before I set up this blog. I believe it started in the US. It’s something I have been meaning to try and push with all the leagues across the country for some time now and I had originally posted something back in 2011 I think. This year I’m going to make this happen, one way of another but I will need your help.

Too often in kids sports; adults, parents and coaches become overly vocal in their approach to working with young athletes. However well-intentioned some of them may be, the results are not always positive. With a Silent Sideline Weekend, the coaches and parents are asked to keep talking to a bare minimum on the sidelines. One coach from each team will be given the task to instruct (not during the game), whilst everyone else stays silent.

‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.’ – Maya Angelou

Supporters are allowed to clap to show their enthusiasm but adults/Coaches are restricted from coaching their kids from the sideline. This is a weekend when kids can make decisions for themselves, without having adults shout 5/6 different instructions at them. When adults scream from the sidelines they’re not just invading the children’s playtime, they’re preventing children from learning the game in a natural manner. Sideline screaming is just ignorance, we need to educate adults on stages of development. We expect far to much from children at a very young age. We must not forget, we are talking about children not adults.

How does it work? 

  • No Shouting Instructions.
  • No Shouting at the ref.
  • No Shouting at the opposition.
  • Absolutely No shouting when a player is about to receive to ball or pass it.
  • Silent at all times.
  • Kids voices heard everywhere.

With the sidelines quiet, players have the chance to make their own split-second decisions on the pitch and learn by them. Instead of being distracted by the stream of noise that usually exists, the kids on the pitch get the opportunity to communicate with one another, deciding who will take the throw ins, the goal-kicks, free-kicks or the corner kicks etc. This also gives them time to think and focus on what they are about to do.


The focus of the weekend is not to take the atmosphere out of the kids’ game but instead try and encourage less coaching from the line. I want every team in Ireland in organised leagues in ever sport to conform to the ‘Silent sideline’ weekend. Not everyone is going to agree with this idea, but one thing is for sure the kids will!

‘You should hear children’s voices, not hear parents SHOUTING, ‘Come on ref, what was that?’ ” he said. ”We want to have a positive environment for the kids to play in.’

I’m aware that many teams have some great coaches & parents who may already give minimal instruction and focus on the positives in a game more than others. This exercise is to highlight the over coaching from adults on the sideline across kids sports in Ireland and mainly soccer. I think a lot of kids will benefit from this even if they are use to hearing encouraging words every weekend.

You can be sure that one population that favours the silence is the referees. They will love this, and I’m sure they would love to have it every weekend.

What’s Expected from Participants?

  • To get all clubs and leagues to sign up across the whole of Ireland and other countries.
  • Clubs to manage this initiative internally with our support and the support of their members.
  • Clubs should select 2 sideline supervisors to keep people calm and explain the process.
  • Each club should have a silent sideline ambassador.
  • Absolutely NO shouting or directing from the sidelines
  • Coaching staff to speak to players at halftime and when making changes ONLY.
  • Clapping allowed for goals scored and effort for both sides.
  • No directing or advice from adults at anytime.
  • Absolutely no questioning of referee in charge of game at anytime.
  • Rope the pitches and provide a designated area for parents.
  • Kids voices are all we want to hear.
  • Lollipops could be a fun way of helping people stay silent!
  • PDF flyer available on request.

Can you imagine a weekend when kids voices were heard everywhere……..I can!!

‘just, let the kids play’

Lets make this happen; let’s start talking about it….!! If any leagues and/or club administrators are reading this, please get in touch. I have just emailed you all.

If this doesn’t make you think about the damage we are doing to kids every weekend, then maybe A Players Message To Parents will!

Please LIKE this post or COMMENT below if you’re in!

Weekend of 29th & 30th March 2014

Listen to the first interview about the SSLW by clicking on this link> ‘GAME ON’ 2FM 

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I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary