Standing on the side-line watching a football match, I heard a parent shouting out inappropriate comments at the top of his voice that were not only directed at his own child, but at other teammates, coaches and the referee.  Some parents do not know how much this behaviour influence the child’s sporting experience or how much they should be involved in their child’s football.

It goes without saying that parents play an important role in the sporting development of their child.  However, parents should take caution in their approach as their behaviour can have negative and positive effects on their child’s sporting experience.

If parents are positive when supporting their children in their football, children are more likely to enjoy their football experience. Positive parental involvement can help develop important skills such as motivation, social skills, and self-esteem.  These skills are valuable and transfers and facilitates development in other areas of life, such as extra-curricular activities and school.  Skill transfer is more effective when a child has a greater self-awareness of their own life skills.  Parents can further assist skill development by encouraging their children to think about what skills they are gaining from football.

Parents can unknowingly create a stressful football environment by placing too much emphasis on the importance on participation.  The parent shouting from the side-line, may think that it is helpful and a form of encouragement, but actually it is more likely to be considered as a hindrance by the child and place additional pressure on them.

The importance role that parents play in their children sport is unquestionable, but caution must be taken to ensure the sporting development of the child is not hindered.

There are Do’s and Don’ts, so remember next time you are watching your child playing a football match:


  • Put trust in the coaches’ methods, as if the same messages are being portrayed by both the coach and the parent there is a lower chance of your child becoming confused and they will be able to focus more on working towards set goals.
  • By encouraging your child to develop their own self-awareness they have gained, it will enhance their self-confidence and facilitate the transfer of such skills to other areas of life.
  • Providing tangible and emotional support it will reassure your child that you are there when they need you.


  • Providing inappropriate coaching advice may provide conflicting messages to which they have received from the coach.  Should you have a disagreement with the coach it is better to talk it through and have a quiet discussion with them another time.
  • Parents may think by being over-involved is a way to show how much they care, there is a fine line between supporting your child and over involvement.
  • Put to much pressure on and emphasis the importance of winning and success. For children it is about enjoying their sport no matter what standard of competition.  Additional pressure can take away the enjoyment and detrimental to their performance.

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