What We Learned from Silent Soccer

Maybe you loved it. Maybe you hated it. But Silent Soccer proved to be a huge success, and we can learn some great lessons to make our program even better and helpful to our children.

The bottom line is: “What is the best sideline behavior to support and develop our kids through soccer?”

Think about this: Parents and teachers do what they can to prepare for their children for tests, but once the test begins, we don’t hover over their shoulder yelling, “pick A, pick C, the answer is 16, Gettysburg Address, etc” . Sure, with our help, they might get a better grade…hopefully…, but they wouldn’t have to think at all and they would suffer from that. There is no difference in soccer. The kids learn in practice. The game is the test…albeit a fun test.

Great things we saw from Silent Soccer:

  • It gave the kids a chance to just go out and play. Coaches and parents were not micro-managing and dictating every play of the game, so players were making their own decisions…right or wrong.
  • We also saw players talking to each other more often and helping teammates out.
  • No one screamed at the referees.
  • Most importantly, the entire weekend, including an article in the LA Times, everybody was discussing appropriate sideline behavior and how involved should coaches and parents be during their child’s sporting event. (see below)

Side effects we saw from Silent Soccer.

  • The inability to cheer for great plays and goals was really no fun. Applause was nice, but left out the emotion of the sport.
  • Coaches could not make minor change, such as player positions, or alter strategy.
  • Games were a bit subdued because of the quiet nature of the game.

So What is “Appropriate Sideline Behavior” in Region 88

Overall, Silent Soccer made us all think a bit about our sidelines behavior.

One disturbing trend we did notice was the coaches/parents who WON were happy with Silent Soccer and they were proud as they believe they had fully prepared their teams to win. The coaches/parents who LOST usually felt like they had no control and if they could have been involved, their team “definitely” would have won. The truth is somewhere in between, and Silent Soccer gave us the opportunity to remind us that AYSO really is for the kids, and we need to look deep and see if how we act is really best for our children.

Scroll down for Expectations for Coaches and Parents

Expectations for Coaches

You are the teacher. Prepare them at practice. Let them enjoy the game.

“POSITIVE” BEHAVIOR BY A COACH MEANS… “NEGATIVE” BEHAVIOR BY A COACH MEANS…
Instructions to Players

  • LESS IS MORE!
  • Any Instruction should be very limited.
  • Simple Instruction/strategy should be given BEFORE the game and AT HALFTIME.
  • During the game, if really necessary, offer a few simple and quick clarifications to specific player when they are near you, and the ball is far way.
  • Give players responsibility to tell other players. This helps create leaders and develops communication skills.
Instructions to Players

  • There should be NO verbal directions when a player has the ball. The player should be allowed to make their own decision.
  • There should be VERY LITTLE verbal directions when a player does not have the ball. The player should be allowed to make their own decision.
  • Don’t yell “Kick in, clear it, cross it, pass it, hold it, hurry, turn left, turn right, shoot. run here, run there, run faster, etc”. This only causes confusion and frustrates the player. And ask your players, they don’t hear you anyway.
  • Constant direction is useless to the player’s development
Strategy Changes

  • Try to make most changes at the breaks.
  • If necessary, it is ok to make a positional change or strategic change, such as pulling a defender forward to help in the attack, switching a left wing to right wing. Or having your defense drop back or push up more.
  • More importantly, you want to have your players make those decisions, such as telling your last central defender it is his/her responsibility to keep the other defenders pushed up.
Strategy Changes

  • Yelling at players constantly to defend, to attack, to get back, go forward, go left, go right ..over and over again. This is not strategy. This is just annoying and doesn’t give the player time to think.
Motivating Players

  • Motivate the players positively by cheering, applauding them and giving them positive feedback on successes they had.
  • Being specific helps. “Great Cross, Jimmy”, “Nice run, Emma” etc.
Motivating Players

  • Do not motivate the players negatively means yelling. “C’mon, hurry up, what are you thinking, why did you that, you’re not working hard, you’re better than that, go faster, push it, etc.”
  • Do not embarrass a player out loud for his poor play. This is unacceptable. If you know a player is playing way below his potential, take him a side and give a little positive pep-talk, plus a little direction. Maybe he’s just having a real bad day cuz of family or school issues. Just remain positive. Less is more.
Helping the Referee

  • Shake hands with the referee before and after the game.
  • Nothing needs to be said during the game.
Helping the Referee

  • Do not call fouls, offside, yell “What was that, what are you calling,” etc.
  • The referee is trying his/her best and is not biased against anybody.
  • Do not use grunts, whines or hand gestures to show disapproval.
  • Any complaints you have will be picked up the parents and they will follow your lead.

Expectations for Parents

You are their biggest fans and most important teacher in life. Support them in all they do, let them make decisions, and let them learn from their successes and their mistakes.

” POSITIVE” BEHAVIOR BY PARENTS MEANS….. “NEGATIVE” BEHAVIOR BY PARENTS MEANS…
Supporting Players

  • Your biggest job is to positively cheering and applaud great plays and great efforts by ALL players and the team.
  • Try to look for the little improvements in all the players.
  • Being specific helps. “Great Cross, Jimmy” “Nice run, Emma” etc.
Motivating Players

  • Embarrassing your child in front of teammates for his play by trying to make him work harder or analyzing his play. This only frustrates the player. True, it may make your child work harder for a few minutes just to make you happy, but it won’t keep a positive lasting impression.
  • Don’t always focus on your child, even if the best player. This is a team effort and one player cannot and should not do it all.
Instructions to Players

  • There should be NO instructions from the parents.
  • It may seem helpful, but is not allowing them to make and learn from decisions.
Instructions to Players

  • During the game, parents should not offer any verbal direction. It may be different than what the coach or players have been working at, and only causes confusion and frustration to the players.
  • Do not bring your child over at half time and give direction. This is the time for the player to be with the coach.
Strategy Changes

  • There should be NO instructions from the parents.
Strategy Changes

  • Right or wrong, any parental advise different than what the coach or players have been working at, may cause confusion and frustration to the players.
Helping the Referee

  • Nothing needs to be said during the game to the referees.
  • No matter what your feelings of the game, it would be a nice gesture to thank the referees for the time they spend running your child’s game.
  • Once the game is over…the game is over! Good sportsmanship is the best model for your child to follow.
Helping the Referee

    • Do not call fouls, offside, hand ball, or yell “What was that, what are you calling, you’re so biased ” etc.
    • The referee is trying his/her best and is not biased against anybody.
  • Do not use grunts, whines or hand gestures to show disapproval.

For more about what coaches and parent say: see “What we say , what the players might hear”.