A recurring problem in youth sports is the proper roles and conduct for players, coaches, spectators and referees. Soccer is a game. We hope our children have fun first and foremost and develop healthy bodies, positive attitudes, knowledge of team play and socialization skills. Even losing, some would argue especially losing, helps to build vital attitudes that help us to deal with life’s later disappointments that we are certain to face.
Coaches serve as role models and mentors helping to guide our young charges and educate them about soccer. She also helps the children to gain self-confidence and increase their talents and expand their athletic boundaries while correcting the player’s errors in a positive way.
Players all provide their own level of talent, energy and enthusiasm coupled with a desire to play. If you ask them, they would tell you that winning is not nearly as important to them as it is to us. It would serve us well to remember that.
Like every game there are rules that must be followed and players who commit an infraction of the rules are penalized. The Referee blows the whistle and makes the call. Most of the time, those calls are very good but occasionally the Referee, like us, makes a mistake.
Massachusetts Youth Soccer and Essex County Soccer have adopted strict guidelines on spectator conduct. Spectators can say nothing to the referee unless it concerns a safety issue (and that means “a player is down” not “hey you jerk of a referee that kid is going to kill my baby”).
During the game spectators must stand on the opposite side of the field from the players because the coach needs to focus the players on the game with a single message. All of the coaches and the NASA board ask that spectators not coach the children from the sidelines. It can be disruptive to the players to be bombarded by instructions that may run contrary to the wishes of the coach. Encouragement and reinforcing good play is the spectator’s role at the match.
The Referee enforces the rules. Whether one agrees with the referees call or non –call, it is final. Please try to imagine if we had someone watching our every move at work who was prepared to scream or yell at us for every little (or big) mistake we made. Okay so it should have been a red ball and yes in hindsight maybe she wasn’t offside but you know what I’m doing the best I can .If you think it’s easy being a referee and feel the kids are entitled to better, then rest assured MYSA is always looking for more Referees and with that handsome pay you’ll receive you and the misses can finally take that trip to Hawaii you’ve always dreamed about. We know we all get caught up in the game but after all that’s the point--IT’S A GAME.
Even worse are people yelling during in–town games that are refereed by 7th and 8th graders. What kind of person screams at little kids regarding an even littler kid’s soccer game? Questioning a call will not be tolerated by this organization, Essex County or Massachusetts Youth Soccer all of which enforce a “0” Tolerance rule that forbids any comments to the referee except in situations related to safety.
It is the responsibility of all of us to maintain the highest standards of civility and conduct at all matches. Yelling at the Referee, abusive or obscene language, violent play, violent conduct, fighting, and other behavior detrimental to the game will not be tolerated. A coach’s responsibility for referee support and spectator control includes the times prior to, during and after the game at the field and surrounding areas.
All persons responsible for a team and all the spectators shall support the referee. Failure to do so will undermine the referee’s authority and has the potential of creating a hostile environment for the players, the referee and all the other participants and spectators.
Coaches serve as role models as do the spectators at the match. Let us teach our children respect for authority, courtesy (even when it’s not easy) and to play the game with dignity and good sportsmanship. While it is easy to do that when everything goes our way let us try to remember that when the mistakes --which are bound to take place-- occur. We stop making mistakes when we die, until then, let us be a little more tolerant of everyone’s mistakes.
The Director of Coaching and NASA Development wanted to ask for your help as you attend your child’s soccer practices and games this Spring season.
We understand that every parent wants their child to enjoy the experience of playing a sport. In addition, we want them to develop, grow and improve as an individual player, as well as a member of a team. Allow them the opportunity to develop important leadership skills, solve problems, improvise when needed, etc.
With this in mind we have been working with our NASA coaches, in all age groups for both boys and girls teams, instructing them on NASA’s philosophy of coaching. Our philosophy is based on guided discovery. With guided discovery coaches are posing problems to their players and allowing them the opportunity to resolve those problems on their own, and as a member of their team. Because of this we are asking each of you to please refrain from coaching from the sidelines. We understand it is only with best intentions that you may shout out helpful hints such as “Shoot”, or “he/she is wide open, pass the ball” during a practice or game. But this only confuses the players. And it often contradicts what the coach has been teaching the players. We want them to learn when the right time to shoot is, or when/where to pass the ball, or whatever the technique/tactic the coaches are working on with the players at that time based on what they are seeing while playing. With guided discovery, the best teacher is the game itself.
Another thing we would like you to keep in mind is that the players themselves are also communicating out on the field. This is a huge part of their development as well. By shouting directions to them, or their teammates from the sideline, we are interfering with that on-field player communication.
Will they make mistakes, of course. Will it look very messy and chaotic at times, absolutely. But both are very important steps for each player to learn what to do, or not to do, the next time the situation arises.
Thinking of it another way, would you go to your child’s school, into their math classroom and when the teacher asks the class “What is 2+2?” shout out “It’s 4, Tell them it's 4”?
One final comment: we are not asking that you remain silent on the sidelines, not at all. We want you to support your child after you see an attempt of any soccer move, whether successful or not. Let them know you saw it, and were amazed by it. Maybe we can take this one step further? As we are a community, a great community, we should do what we can to foster the community spirit. For our In-Town programs, do not just cheer on your own child, cheer on your child’s teammates. And we know this might sound crazy, but cheer on players on the opposing team. Why not? When we see any player attempt something fantastic, let’s make sure they know we all saw it.
NASA, the Director of Coaching and all our coaches appreciate your support during the season. We look forward to seeing you all out on the soccer pitch in the upcoming weeks.