How to Support from the Sidelines

By Britain Thomas, Technical Director
Republished from

With the season under way, it's a good time to visit sideline etiquette. Parents are an important part of the team and have a massive influence on the environment. 

Support your player

  • Encouragement is fantastic in the right dose. Too much can undermine the intrinsic motivation of the athlete, something that is essential to continued involvement.
  • Pay attention to the emotional state of your player. Are you mindful of how your comments, feedback and actions affect this? 

Coaching from the sideline

  • Can embarrass or distract the player when they are trying to focus on a task.
  • Can make your coach feel undermined. This puts players in an awkward position. 
  • Can reinforce actions that are not age appropriate or specific to the teams objectives.


  • Referees have received training and passed exams to be able to fulfill this role.  
  • Perspective is everything. Accept the fact that everyone sees the game differently.  
  • Everyone misses details, coaches, players, SPECTATORS.
  • Do we want referees to continue to referee our games, keep learning and develop?  Does identifying their mistakes support their growth?


  • We CAN NOT entertain conversations that are critical of coaches with other members of the team and maintain a healthy team. 
  • Address the coach with concerns, most will be happy to answer questions about their approach. 

Much of whether or not a player's experience is a positive one depends on our actions. There are some eye opening studies, books and resources on the topic:

A great start is Changing the Game