When your kids start playing basketball, there’s no doubt you’ll be excited to go watch them play. It can feel natural to call out instructions and yell your opinions from the sidelines, after all, you’re just helping your child play their best game!

But what you don’t realize is that your sideline coaching (or rather, yelling) could actually be doing damage to your players’ game. There are many reasons for you to temper your sideline coaching and let the actual coach keep the role, and a few things you can do instead to show your support.

7 Reasons not to coach from the sidelines

At Burlington Basketball, we know that the game should be enjoyed and FUN FOR KIDS! That doesn’t mean we don’t love or run great competitive programs! Both can co-exist and as parents, we can all work together to make great basketball – FUN!

1. You’ll confuse players

Before the start of the game, the coach no doubt had a team meeting to go over game strategy and to give the players some instructions. So, when the players get on the court and hear conflicting things being called out from the parents’ bench, it can lead to some pretty significant confusion. The only voice your players should be listening to during the game is the coach’s.

2. Players are forced to choose who to listen to

With two voices offering conflicting advice throughout the game players are forced to choose which voice they should listen to. If the worry or fear of hearing negative feedback from parents on the car ride home weighs on their mind, players are likely to listen to their parents’ advice more than their coach’s. This can lead to poor plays and bad decisions on the court, potentially even costing them playtime.

3. Raises anxiety and removes the fun

When a player is constantly worried about what their parent thinks of their game play it can make playing basketball less of a fun afterschool sport and more of an anxiety inducing activity.

4. Steal their opportunities to make decisions

One of the most important skills a player can learn is the ability to make smart and fast on-court decisions. Decisions like when to pass or shoot, who to pass to and what kind of pass to use are details that your player should learn how to work out on their own. The best way to learn this skill is through experience but when your sideline coaching leads to you telling them the moves to make before they can think it out themselves, you take away the opportunity for them to learn this decision-making skill.

5. Creates a distraction

Parents yelling from the sidelines will often create a distraction for everyone involved. Other players could get confused and distracted, not realizing who is yelling instructions at them, other parents will be distracted from what is happening on the court and the coaches could get thrown off their coaching game.

6. Reduces the coaches respect and authority

Coaching a team is tough work. It requires effort to not only teach the players everything they need to know to play the game, they also have to work to earn the respect of each and every player- and parent. The authority a coach commands in order to be able to effectively direct the team is rooted in the respect they have for him, and when parents start coaching and yelling from the sidelines that authority gets diminished.

7. Referees are less effective

Often times yelling from the sidelines isn’t only directed at the players and coaches, the referees can take quite a bit of heat, too. This can cause stress and pressure on the referees, leading them to make bad calls. Blaming the ref for problems in the game can also teach your player that their mistakes can be blamed on a ref rather than their own decisions. In a worst case scenario a ref can work against you (whether they do it consciously or not!) as a way to show their displeasure!

What should parents do instead of yelling from the sidelines?

Though it may be hard to remember in the heat of the moment, your job as a parent and spectator is actually very simple. Ultimately you are there to show support and encouragement and the best way to do that is to:

  • Watch the game quietly
  • Be encouraging! Only call out with words like ‘good shot’ or ‘nice play’
  • Refrain from raising your voice in the hopes that your player will hear you
  • Be mindful of all the parents/fans also watching around you
  • Don’t berate the ref, coaches (of either team) or players
  • Offer a supportive ear and constructive feedback on the way home
  • Don’t get angry at your player either on the court or on the way home
  • Don’t stand out from the crowd

Doubtful? Try these tips and see how your young athlete responds. You’ll be glad you did (and so will they)!