Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

“Don’t let them play!”

David ClarkeI’ve heard a lot of things shouted at soccer games in youth leagues, but something that I was confronted with at our game last weekend was a new one for me.
It was hot on the heels of a meeting I’d had the day before where the blueprint for youth soccer in England had filled my world with hope for the future of the game. But the positivity and fair-mindedness that I’d experienced was quickly stifled in the reality of an Under-11s match.
We were playing against a strong, tough-tackling, hard-kicking team who were hitting balls at our defence with alarming regularity. Supporting this extremely hard-working team were a group of parents intent on winning, and winning whatever it took.
We adjusted to the pressure and at half-time it was 0-0. We now had the slope of the pitch in our favour. Our slick passing and movement began to gain us the upper hand, and the through-ball exercises we had been working on earlier in the week were looking as though they might pay dividends.
It was at this point one of the opposition parents, obviously realising his son’s team were losing their edge, began shouting warnings. Nothing unusual in that, until a final instruction came: “Don’t let them play!” he screamed. “Stop them playing!” This ‘tactic’ was promptly followed up by other parents. They were trying to end this absorbing game as a contest.
I remarked to the parent how much the players were enjoying the tactical battle, and that shutting down and stifling the game was a real shame… but of course I was ignored and the bluntly shouted instructions continued. This tactic actually allowed us to switch play more easily, and as my players began to pick off the tiring opposition players we found better chances to score. Late on, we finally found the net.
We held on to win the game, and the post-match atmosphere between the two sets of players, if not the parents, was good. It was our opponents’ first loss of the season and those around the sides of the pitch took it badly.
But what they failed to see was that it was a good close game. And it might have been even closer had they let the players continue in the same manner with which they’d approached the first half.
At the end my players said they had enjoyed winning 1-0 much more than the previous week when they’d triumphed 8-0, but I think even they felt the spirit of the game had gone in those final phases. That was a shame, because up until then there had been two styles of play cancelling each other out, providing a platform for an abundance of skill all over the pitch.
If only the parents hadn’t got involved…


4 Comments so far
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Some parents get to involve in wining and not in having their kids enjoy a good game of soccer.

Comment by John

at the age of 11, the result should not matter, it all about development , the results will come later, parents should not be telling their kids how to play thats the coaches job, parents should just encourage their sons or daughters, and parents should ask their kids if they enjoyed the game and not what the score was,,

Comment by sandy mathieson

Our club had “Silent Sunday” this past weekend, encouraging no coaching from the parents on the side. Conversations among parents were allowed, and coaches were to limit instructions to substitutions and halftime as much as possible. The results shared by the club in an e-mail today were encouraging:
“1. Feedback from one of our referees when asked how his game went: “It was amazing, more clubs should do that.”
2. Our U12 Girls clinched their greatest win of the season. An 8-0 rout, according to Coach “Smith”: “I have never seen the girls play with so much freedom and communication.”
3. Our U9 Boys performed outstanding against a team that has been unbeaten for two years. They were tied 1-1 for a long period of the game and were very unlucky to lose 1-3. Great game boys!
4. Our U10 Girls dominated possession and ended up winning 2-0 in arguably their best performance of the season. Way to go girls!
5. One of our parents on a U13 Boys team commented that “I just never realized how much the boys communicate to each other, it’s great to hear.”
6. One of our U9 players commented that “Oh yeah, I loved it, silent was way better!””

Comment by Tom

How true – We had a game against an Exeter based U11 team whose only positive contribution was a form of football rucking where you didnt necessarily have to have the ball to get hit – coached that way by ill conceived parents acting as “coaches” it was sad to see at this age thankfully football triumphed but will they reflect – sadly I dont think they will and I am unsure as what enjoyment apart from spoiling a contest that they actually obtained – things havent changed in 40 years and until they do at this level we will never deliver the talent the country should be producing

Comment by Grant Mitchell

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