The most irritating things about watching your kids play
Spending a lovely sunny Saturday morning watching you child play, building those wonderful memories together. Or a wet miserable morning, spent quietly cursing as you watch your child's team lose pitifully, trying to ignore the over enthusiastic cheering and laughs of the opposition parents as your goalkeeper throws the ball into his own goal.
Don't get me wrong there are many great moments in youth football but there many things that drive me up the wall. So the worst things about youth football are:
1) Parents - This will be probably the biggest challenge faced by most coaches and continually the biggest factor in any issues or stresses in your team. This is not to say all parents are awful whatsoever, a lot of parents can be a god send helping you referee, coach or a wide variety of other things. It’s just that when they are bad it can have a massive effect on everything. I have coached for 18 years and also played for over 20 and have seen some terrible examples of parent’s behaviour that to be honest at times had me questioned whether I wanted to take part at all.
From screaming instructions at the players, abusing the referee, aggressive behaviour towards the coaches or opposition, abusive language towards their child or other players, or spreading malicious gossip behind your back about your decisions being some examples, I have seen it all.
As a player when I was younger I felt this on many an occasion. Being a player who loves the ball and hates to hit it long or 'hoof it' out I would always try to run the ball out. This led to many mistakes but I used to get a certain other players dad hammering me every game. 'Kick it out', 'clear it', 'what are you doing', 'you have given it away again'. Being the kind of person I am it made me determined to do more of what they were asking me not to do but it did really change my enjoyment and the pressure I felt every time I got the ball. I have seen players quit or choose not to play at all because of this kind of pressure and abuse.
As a manager I always like to play out from the back keeping the ball on the floor. Before the rule where the opposition had to retreat behind the halfway line for goal kicks this used to be very hard and resulted in many conceded goals. We conceded 180 goals in 20 games 1 year and at least 70% of those are from the ball being given away from goal kicks. So at the beginning of our u9 season when it used to start becoming competitive after our Goalkeeper gave the ball away again one of the other parents started shouting at him, screaming at him to hit it long. Seeing the young boy’s head drop was heart breaking, as his parents couldn't come to games he was an easy target. Speaking to the parents involved in the abuse resulted in him immediately leaving the team and the player affected have his confidence massively knocked. The player who left was a great player who was never the same after he left us and thankfully the goalkeeper recovered well to be a great keeper but many don't.
This is something you must get a handle on early and not put up with anything. Let it go it is saying that is acceptable and it will slowly get worse and worse.
2) Hoofing the ball clear - Every time the ball is hoofed or cleared without any thought of playing the ball out it is you giving up. Encouraging your players to do is you giving up on them, saying they are not good enough, telling them the game is more important than ever trying to get them to that level.
You cannot tell me it isn't better to play the ball out than hoof it aimlessly into touch. Managers that shout at players to clear it drive me insane, but they hear it on TV, from parents, friends and all it does is hold them back and again evoke a pressurising atmosphere where the result is all important. Give them the confidence and encourage them to take risks or they will never improve. If you want them to be the best they can be don't tell them to quit and don't give up on them they deserve more.
3) Awful weather - I manage a lot of young teams but even with my adult team everyone hates the cold miserable weather. I have literally on multiple occasions every year had players in tears due to how cold they are. We play in jumpers half the year to combat this and still we get it. It kills games and I have called 2 games off early this due to the players being so cold.
Standing there in the freezing cold trying to fix the stupid orange net clips, trying to do a child's laces when you can't feel your fingers or having to pack away the nets after all the parents have dashed away to their cars on the final whistle. A few of the many joys of playing in the howling wind and rain but the biggest issue is seeing those young players break down, unable to force themselves to move due to the incessant cold however much you tell them to move around to warm up.
Make sure your players are kitted up properly for every game with under tops and leggings, gloves, hats even coats underneath their kit. Why does it matter what they wear as long as they can actually play in relative comfort.
4) Kids left on the side line for most of the game - This is actually why I got involved with football as it just makes me so angry. Seeing and hearing players left on the side line for most if not all of the game is an absolute joke and to is tantamount to abuse in my eyes. Always the quiet ones, whose parents aren't there get picked on, easy targets. Generally the players aren't as good as those on the pitch but why does that matter you win or lose as a squad if you don't think they are good enough and you want to play like this don't sign them. Don't abuse players by bringing them along and leaving them there sending them the message that they are not good enough. This has a massive effect on their image of themselves and to be honest this should never happen in football. I know the FA have introduced rules on this which but I have always had a rota so everyone has got the same amount of time on the pitch (I have some templates in my store). I think everyone should do this as it is fair on everyone like football and life should be.
5) Losing - I have written a whole post on this but I hate losing. Putting on your fake smile when you shake hands with the other team and making sure you calm yourself down to talk to your team in a calm, collected manner while screaming on the inside. It feels awful to lose especially when there is a lack of effort to actually try to win. Sat on side line there is only so much you can do. Watching your team drift through and not even care about winning is one of my biggest frustrations as a coach. Which leads on to...
6) Caring too much about losing - Winning is not everything and as much as I hate losing I would lose every game for my whole life rather than see the sadness and despondency of players after you have let your will to win or frustration boil over to the players. There have been a few occasions where I have let my frustrations get the better of me and I ended up moaning at my son for not doing certain things he should have done in the game on the journey home and as soon as the words left my mouth and through his reaction I knew I was wrong. I heard a stat that 80% of players quit because of the drive home and it made me think and ban myself from talking negatively to my son on the drive home. Football needs to be more than a game don't kill it by only caring about one thing. The players being happy is why they are there, make that your winning and you will win every game.
7) Cheering for own goals or mistakes - I hate this. Seeing the other team cheer or celebrate when your team make a mistake is horrible. Rubbing it into a players face when he has just made an error is cruel, unsporting and just not nice. I can kind of understand players, especially young ones who can get really over excited. I do try and teach my players not to celebrate own goals and mistakes. I get really annoyed with managers and parents celebrating and even laughing when they score from a mistake. I never want to win a game like that and surely you must have some level of respect for other peoples feelings. Laughing at a 8 year after he lets the ball roll through his legs must surely be wrong.
Anyway again I'm sure I missed things out but here are my main annoyances. If you have your own please comment and share. Best of luck in these tough please stay home and stay safe.