It's a common sound in the bleachers at the local football games now that the fall season is underway. More than cheering or clapping, you hear moms and dads yelling at their kids to "run faster," "pay attention," "throw it sooner," or "make the tackle."
I’ve even caught myself doing this on more than one occasion, I’m ashamed to say. I figured I better explain myself to my son before I got the reputation of being one of those parents.
So I asked him, "You do know that when I yell instructions to you, I'm not yelling at you, I'm just trying to help?" He responded, "I know that Dad, but you could wait and just tell me after the game. Most of the time I can’t even hear you anyway and when I do, by the time it “clicks” in my brain, the play is over and all you’ve done is distract me."
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You know what, he's exactly right.
The only person giving instructions to the players should be the head coach or the assistant coaches. We often forget, or never experienced, what it's like playing in a competitive atmosphere. It's hard enough for a player to come out of the huddle having to remember the play and their role in it, let alone having to then listen as three different parents yell three separate sets of instructions.
Sometimes what parents yell does make perfect sense. But I also know for a fact they occasionally go against what the coach wants the players to do. I see this all the time when a coach is trying to get a player to run a route to a certain spot or defend a particular way, only to have a parent yell something completely different.
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Put yourself in your child’s shoes for a minute. Think about your reaction on the golf course if, as you were addressing the ball with a slight draw in mind, someone yelled, “Best thing you can do here is fade it in.” My guess is your execution would suffer.
The next time you're going to yell something to your child, try yelling, "Good job, keep up the good work," and leave it at that. Hopefully the parents around you will follow your lead. I guarantee your child won't tell you after the game, "Geez, I missed you yelling instructions to me during the game."
And I guarantee the coaches won’t miss it either.
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Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years, originally as a coach and board member with his now-adult son and most recently "just as a dad" with his 9- and 11-year-old sons. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.