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Manatee Area Youth Soccer Organization

Parent Guide

"Parents play an active part in the enjoyment their children have in youth soccer. Encourage them to try new things is step one. Now that they are out there kicking, running, laughing, falling down and all chasing the ball simultaneously they need positive reinforcement. Many parents during games and sometimes-even practices yell out to the kids what to do and when to do it. They cheer when things go right and sometimes cry out in anguish when they don't. In all they are trying to be positive and help the kids. What many adults have forgotten from when they were 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 years old is that children of those ages can focus on a limited number of tasks at one time. That may continue to be true to a lesser degree for older players too.

Indeed it takes all of the attention of an U6 player to control the ball. This is because they are still developing basic balance, coordination and agility. Also in a 4 versus 4 game the odds for the player with the ball are generally 1 versus 7. So during a game the player needs to focus on the task at hand---trying to control the ball. Unfortunately they are distracted by all of the adults yelling from the touchline. Now they have to make a choice, either play the ball or listen to the parents.

So the lesson is clear. If parents want to help their team play their best they need to be quiet while watching the game. Just sit back and let the children play!" ----Sam Snow US Youth Soccer Director of Coaching

Sideline Do's and Don'ts


  • Be your child’s biggest fan by attending as many games as you can, offering support and encouragement.
  • Make your job on the sidelines that of your child’s unconditional positive supporter, especially when he’s having a tough game. Let the coach be the one to offer up any criticism, skill pointers, or game strategy.
  • Be supportive and help your child keep the competition in perspective.
  • Cheer and call out encouragement instead of directions. Cheer enthusiastically for great skills, not just for scoring.
  • Always cheer positively. Root for all the kids on the team, not just your own, and not against their opponents. “Sam, get the ball!” from the sidelines becomes “go Vipers” or “go defense.”
  • Limit yourself to a few generic words of praise, such as “great goal” “nice pass” or “go Panthers!” Doing so will not only take pressure off your child, but it will also inspire other parents to tone it down as well.
  • Smile, show confidence and faith in your child. Your child will watch you closely during a performance and will feel dejected by your cries of frustration, or shouts to try harder.
  • Thank the coaches, referees, or umpire at the end of the competition for their hard work.


  • Don’t yell at your child from the sidelines, as it only serves to confuse and potentially embarrass her. Doing so destroys your child’s concentration. Moreover, you put her in a no-win situation if you end up yelling out advice that contradicts that of her coach.
  • Do not lose your temper, no matter how bad a call from a referee is or what your child’s opponent or their parents do or say. Walk off the stress or leave. Getting angry accomplishes nothing. Just as you don’t want your child to embarrass you, don’t embarrass her.
  • If you get more worked up and excited than your child, something’s wrong. Take a break from attending a game to regroup and gain perspective.
  • Watch non-verbal disapproving signals you give your child, particularly looks of disappointment or disgust. In addition, realize that being silent or not giving your child any feedback after a game will likely be taken as implicit criticism.
  • Put away your video camera, as it takes competitive performance pressure off your child and can make him feel self-conscious in the midst of a game.
  • Don’t shower your child with extravagant praise. Your child will quickly pick up on it, when you’re cheering madly and all she did was pass the ball once to a teammate. · Don’t offer your own negative critique about your child’s performance after a game. Your child most likely already feels badly about any mistakes he/she made.
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