Hello Everyone, Please take 2 minutes of your time to read the full email.
I hope my subject line was able to catch your attention. Before our season and games kick off I believe it is very important for you, family and fans of the game, to read this message.
Youth soccer parents and coaches are infamous for being categorized as the crazy, obnoxious, boisterous "Sideline Generals". From the comfort of our lawn chairs we are very good at directing players, making calls for referees, and sometimes even gathering to have your own coaching discussion about the coaches coaching decisions.
I write this email because over the past 3 years I have had the opportunity to watch our teams as a coach and I have been able to watch from the sidelines with the fans. I am convinced and confident that our Parents are the best mannered group of parents compared to other soccer clubs in our area.
Now, with that being said, I want to revisit our expectations about sideline instructions. (Keep reading) I think I can speak for all coaches and players when I say, we want to hear cheers, applauds, and make noise! What I ask of our Strike parents/family and even our Strike coaches is to minimize the sideline instruction. Although providing clear instruction and guidance at appropriate moments can facilitate young players' learning, many of us make the mistake of renetlessly bombarding youngsters with information and directions during games. We fail to to understand that when we take this approach we end up creating a chaotic commotion that serves no help to anyone and simply suppresses the player's liberty to make their own decisions. For example, some of the most popular phrases that can be heard from the sideline are:
- "Pass it!"
- "BOOT it!"
- "Be Aggressive!"
- "Not in there!"
Soccer is a player-centered sport. Soccer players have to make their own decisions in the moment whether it be wrong or right, they have to make it and learn from it. They have to rely on imagination, spontaneity, and creativity to create chances for themselves. So, how do we expect to create a team that can possess the ball and complete good passes if we don't cheer for complete passes. Instead we sometimes cheer for the hardest kick up the field. We don't hear shouts and celebrations when a player wins a header or controls a ball out of the air. We're quick to shout "Pass it!" Or "Shoot!" and having taken away that idea from the player, we won't find out what the player would have done to begin with. We miss out on watching a player express themselves in a game that is theirs to begin with, so Cheer Don't Steer and enjoy the game.
The importance of body language is something I've tried to constantly remind our players about and how much our body actually communicates. I try to remind them to unfold their arms, stand up straight, and when something goes wrong.. pick your head up. Body language, from what I've learned, has a direct affect with how we feel about ourselves. If we drop our head and slump our shoulders than we're most likely feeling down and blah. If we sit alert in our chair, on the edge of our seat, and make eye contact than we're most likely to absorb information, listen, and improve.
I have seen time and time again players try to execute a certain action on the field (i.e. lose the ball or even score a goal) and immediately look over to the parent or the coach for instant gratification. This is actually said to suffocate progress and deter a student or athlete from working harder because every action needs to be validated. We, as coaches and as parents, throw our hands in the air, shout like crazy, highlight their mistake, and even physically and metaphorically speaking, turn our back on the players. All of this does nothing to improve a players chances to excel, it breaks them down, discourages their interest in the game, and keeps them from enjoying the "game".
It's important, as adults, to be able to step back and keep things in perspective. Games and kids will get heated and may act in the heat of the moment, but they should look over to us and be reminded to be better. Our body language should remind them to relax, mistakes are ok, and keep playing. Parent Education is very important and I take this part of the job very seriously. If we better ourselves through coaching and parent education than we'll create a better environment for our kids, so they can excel to the highest of their potential.
Thank you all for your continued support of Strike SC. I wish everyone the best luck this weekend and next. Please help me as we continue to represent this Club in a good light. We have the great opportunity to promote and continue to make a good name for our club nearly every weekend in front of teams from all over the State and Gulf Coast.
Director of Coaching
Daphne Strike Soccer Club
Gulf Coast Rangers FC
University of Mobile
Assistant Men's Soccer Coach