I like well-behaved parents/fans because I have been around a lot of ill-behaved ones. In nearly every youth game that I have officiated (U15 and below) there has been at least one, and usually two, fans screaming instructions to their player or entire team from the sideline. Often, it is incredibly poor advice. These are the same individuals who yell when their player is taken off the field, openly criticize the officials, and generally know next to nothing about how lacrosse is played.
I believe that there would be no problems on the fans’ sideline if every fan approached every game with the goal of contributing to a positive, sporting atmosphere. Unfortunately, there tends to be a few people that willfully ignore that idea. Believing that their yelling is helping their team. Here’s a hint: you are not helping. Take for example the parent that yells shoot when a player is twenty yards away from the goal. It accomplishes nothing more than getting the player amped up to take a shot. My personal favorite is when the Head Coach is yelling “hold the ball” and all the parents are yelling “shoot!” More often than not, the player will listen to the voice of their mother or father and take an ill-advised shot. Meanwhile their coach has his head buried in his hands, wondering if there is enough duct tape to put over the mouths of his team’s fans.
Another key thing to keep in mind is that your player recognizes your voice whenever you yell something during the game. I played in some very competitive high school games, and my father attended many of them. I could always recognize his voice from the stands. The kicker is he never said anything more than “Go, Gordon!” A coach with thirty plus years of experience in the game, and he never once gave me advice from the sideline. He knew his role was to root for me when I did well, and encourage me when things turned rough. I was never once embarrassed by my father’s comments from the sidelines, however I have been embarrassed for some of my teammates whose parents who thought their role was to assist the coaches from the stands.
So how do you yell when watching from the sideline? The easiest way to do this is to limit yourself to a few specific phrases:
- “Go, (insert player name here)!”
- “Great play!”
- “Awesome defense!”
- “Stay strong!”
- “Keep playing hard!”
If you limit yourself to general statements about your player and your team, you don’t run afoul of the coach trying to do his job of running the offense or defense. Also, you can never get into the problem of giving bad advice to your player at a critical moment during a game. Plus, all of those phrases are extremely positive. Avoid yelling anything negative. For example, here are a few negative comments I have heard during games over the years:
- “Put him in a body bag!” (This during a U11 game, I was stunned speechless)
- “Destroy him!” (Would you want that yelled at your child?)
- “Wake up!” (Accomplishes nothing more that getting the player nervous)
- “That was the worst call I’ve ever seen!” (just making the Head Coach’s job more difficult, plus it sets a bad example for all the players)
If what you are about to yell is not positive it is best to swallow your comment. Here’s a short article on why yelling at your player negatively is not the best course of action: www.momsteam.com/successful-parenting/yelling-from-the-sideline-can-be-emotional-abuse.
Lacrosse is an emotional game. I do not expect parents and fans to be robots on the sidelines. I want people to get into the flow of the game. To feel the excitement that is inherent in competitive sports. What I do not want is for any kid to get discouraged while playing the game because one or more individuals feels it is necessary to share their opinion with everyone at the game. Enjoy the game in a positive manner or stay silent.
Finally, I leave you with the following card from US Lacrosse:
Remember to honor the game with your actions anytime your team steps onto the field.
Featured Image Credit – www.mogosport.wordpress.com/category/youth-sports-parents/