Clipstone FC & Radcliffe respect for silent sidelines

Silent Sidelines

In late November, we joined forces with Derbyshire FA to promote a Silent Sideline Respect weekend.

The theme definitely divided opinion across the football world, and to say that there were views that were poles apart is an understatement.

In the Youth game, most Respect promotional material is aimed at adults, as it is adults who cause the majority of issues we see; adults generally fall into one of 2 groups, parents or spectators and coaches.

As this article is part of our Coaches Club newsletter, we want to explore how Silent Sidelines can be adopted by coaches.

The hashtag we used for the weekend was #LetThemPlay and this relates as much to coaches as much as it does to the parents or spectators. We asked that coaches gave some thought to the things that they say, shout to or at their players during the game. Whilst there were many who totally disagreed with the initiative, we asked that they simply gave it a go.

The aim of The FA when it comes to the development of young players is to develop technically proficient players who are independent decision makers. The process of producing such decision makers is highly likely to be affected by coaches who insist on telling their players what to do from start to finish of a game.

Pointing out what they have done ‘wrong’ each and every time they make a ‘mistake’ isn’t the best way to prevent them making such a mistake in the future. Young footballers are the same as anybody else, they will make mistakes as that’s how they learn. The fact that mistakes in football can lead to goals conceded, chances missed, possession conceded, corners and free kicks given away, is not a reason to shout at your players, its part of football.

Much of the content of The FA Coaching qualifications highlight the importance of letting your players play the majority of young players do need help, they do need guidance and yes, they do need coaching. However, a coach shouting an endless stream of instructions and directions for the entire 40-50 minutes of a game isn’t the best way to develop the young players in their care.

Constantly shouting at your players to ‘Pass’ ‘Shoot’ ‘Get back’ ‘Get forward’ ‘Give me more effort’ ‘Get goal side’ ‘Press’ ‘Turn and face’ doesn’t really help them make their own decisions. Many young players don’t actually know the meaning of some of the ‘football terms’ shouted from the side of the pitch.

If you are a coach that does this, then give the following tips some consideration when on the sideline:

  1. Give your players challenges, whether individually or as a team – this should link to the things you are working on in your training sessions.
  2. Think before you say anything, ask yourself if what you are about to say is going to help the player improve.
  3. Make notes – If a player makes the same mistake more than a couple of times, then this can inform the information you give them at your next training session. Highlighting them at half or full time maybe not the best way to improve that particular aspect of a players game.
  4. Give praise to your players – but make it specific. Constant generalised praise loses meaning, as players at times don’t understand what they have done to deserve praise.

The last point to make is that we know that there are a lot of fantastic coaches out there, doing some great things. Coaches give up their time to help our young players improve, they go on courses, they attend CPD, and they read coaching books and articles such as this. They love what they do and are passionate about it.

The aim of the weekend was not to make the side of the pitch silent. It was about making people stop and think. Hopefully this article has reinforced that.

Always remember that it’s kids football.

Happy coaching!