You may have seen the sign. You may agree with the sentiment. You may even have spotted the rogue apostrophe. But would you admit to having one of those ‘guts to gob’ moments whilst watching your son or daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew play football?
I would; there have been many. But since first seeing the sign and reflecting on the issue, such moments have diminished to zero. The reason? It causes no good, only harm. And here’s why:
- Being shouted at is not pleasant. Children don’t like it.
- Being shouted at reduces independence and critical thinking.
- Shouting raises your own anxiety and stress levels.
- Shouting at the referee sets a bad example to children.
- Match day is a learning experience for all involved – children, coaches and referee.
Frustrating as it is when we can see a gap in the defence, a perfect opportunity for a through ball or a foul that the ref didn’t give, we do no good by shouting about it. I’d like to suggest that the best way we can help our children to develop is to let them get on with it and by praising their effort. Did you ever fall off your bike when you were learning to ride it? Does your child ever get their maths work wrong? If the answer is yes, then brilliant – it’s called learning! Learning involves getting it wrong sometimes. Did anyone shout at you when you fell off your bike? Would you shout at your child for getting their ‘sums’ wrong? If our kids get it wrong sometimes we should say, ‘great’, because it means they are learning and it is likely that they are challenging themselves – putting a pass through that they haven’t tried before; taking on a defender with a new trick; trying a long distance shot that they have rehearsed on the PS3!
The same goes for the manager / coach. When they play your child ‘out of position’ (if there is such a thing..?) it may be to help them to learn, to develop new skills or simply be for the good of the team. The late, great Johan Cruyff said;
“When a player with talent couldn’t defend I put him in defence so he could learn, but that could cost a point. But I didn’t care, I was busy developing the player.”
Remember too that the person in the middle is learning too. Many referees at grassroots level are teenagers, turning up to develop their own skills and make a contribution. They will make mistakes.
Reflect on the fact that it was probably only when you passed your driving test that you really learned how to drive. It can take a long time to get proficient at something – passing ‘the test’ is just the beginning.
So shouting is pointless. But I still get those ‘guts to gob’ feelings. I’m learning too. Learning to keep my mouth closed when the urge to yell appears! Learning to speak a few words of encouragement to the opposition goalkeeper from time to time. Learning to switch the focus of the conversation on the way home in the car.
I believe that this is better for everyone but if you doubt any of this, ask the children; they’ll tell you. Don’t bury your head in the sand and say, “it never did me any harm,” unless of course you do like being shouted at and it has led to a successful professional career in football, in which case I stand corrected.
This Tiger Tale was written by Tiger’s parent, John Taylor. His eldest son plays for Dukinfield Tigers U11s and youngest son has just started training with the U8’s.
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