Controlling the Touchline

Controlling the Touchline

“Spectators screaming at players and the referee achieves nothing.”

I have stood on the touchlines up and down the country watching games that I have been involved in and others that I have just gone along to watch and every game has one common factor, the touchline full of spectators screaming and shouting at both the players and the referee. Some of the comments that I have heard and reactions that I have seen have bordered on child abuse, not physical but mental which is regarded by some in the clinical profession as the worst form.

Swearing at the referee, abusing the coach or screaming at their own child it isn’t nice to watch and at times I have had to step in and inform the individual of how little their comments are helping the child to progress and develop. The majority of parents who drag themselves to training and games 3 or 4 times a week through the winter months do it because they are proud of what their child is doing and have a healthy interest in watching their child grow and develop.

Many of those parents will be embarrassed to be associated with the few individuals who constantly barrack the referee and players as will any coaches who are involved in the game for the right reason.


How then do we resolve the problem if indeed it can be resolved?

Constantly screaming and shouting at anyone, child or adult will not achieve the results that you want in fact there is a very good chance it will have the opposite effect. A child that is constantly shouted at for a poor pass or because they fail to catch a ball will start to worry about making that mistake again as invariably they know what will happen on the back of that mistake, what then if everyone just said NEVER MIND, YOU WILL CATCH IT NEXT TIME?Removing the pressure may just help the player as he isn’t worrying about the reaction he will get when the next mistake comes and of course it will.

Children develop better when they are in an environment that they enjoy, that is friendly and where there is an acceptable pressure to perform without it being over the top, no kid at 10 year old is the next Morley or the Next Andrew Johns but they could be in the future with the correct coaching in the correct environment.


Touchline behaviour starts with the coach!

The coach invariably has to be the leading light when it comes to the touchline, they have to say the right things at the right times and most importantly in the correct manner. If the coach is getting vexed at high tackles, punches in the tackle or a poor refereeing display then the touchline will respond likewise. If the coach is constantly barking orders at the players then the touchline will behave in exactly the same manner.

Now if you are doing that and you still have parents that are crossing the line so to speak then as a first approach, try and deal with it as a group to include coaches and all parents / regular spectators. Explain your coaching philosophy, give them the reasons why the touchline behaviour could actually be negative rather than positive and explain what you want. Doing it this way doesn’t single out an individual or put the coach on a crash course with one or two parents.

If that still doesn’t help then you have to take the hard line and point out the poor behaviour to the individual, if you are not confident enough to do that alone, ask another coach to do it with you or one of the clubs management committee.

Remember that you won’t like all of the parents involved with your team just as some of them will not like you, the better you can all manage that situation the better it is for the team.

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