Parents at Futsal SA finals at THE ARC in Campbelltown South Australia in December 2017 were the first to see the Yellow for Yelling awareness campaign. Around 200 Yellow cards were given out to parents, grandparents and friends.

If you are not familiar with the Yellow for Yelling program yet check it out here

“Did it make a difference?” I can hear some of you saying.

Well, the main idea was to hand out cards to parents with children between 8 and 15 years old and learn from their reaction. The reception was overwhelmingly positive and many acknowledge the problems with yelling instructions to children from the sideline.

Many agreed that instructions from parents confuse the child rather than help them. The younger they are, the more confused, they get and the more it impacts negatively on their confidence.

In one instance, I watched a parent pacing the goal line while her son was in goal. The son was watching his mother, waiting for instructions while the mother was watching the game. What can an eight-year-old learn from that, I wonder?


Okay, I may sound like a wise guy but the truth is that I have done similar things myself, when my kids were younger because I thought I was helping them. However, I have since learned that yelling instructions from the sideline slows down children’s learning capacity and prevents creativity.

Back to the Futsal finals, handing out the cards was done with a lot of smiles and a few were wondering if they were given the card because they thought I heard them yell, ha, ha, ha! That wasn’t the case but what was very pleasing to me was the genuine support I received from so many parents.

Of course, there is always the odd person who doesn’t want to participate, but I like to stress that the aim is not to change Manchester United supporters to become Manchester City or Juventus supporters to change to Napoli or Barcelona fans to become fans of Real Madrid.


Most parents are doing the right things so why is it a problem?

Most parents start off in supportive silence and only join in yelling when someone else start. This is a common human behaviour which can change with the right mindset. This short video is an excellent example of human behaviours under influence by others. I bet, you won’t think that you could possibly be like the people in the video.

Did I win the bet? Ha ha!


Let’s start with STOP, THINK & DECIDE approach and only support in the way your child wants you to support them. How do I know what your child like? Well, I don’t, but do you?

Up to about 18 months ago I had never asked my children how they wanted me to support them from the sideline. My daughter used to say (then 12 years old) I should not shout so much (referring to supportive yelling). I told her that I am helping the team. Basically, I thought I was right and she was too young to know… Crazy!

Looking back on my behaviour I’m thinking “whose game, was it?” Mine or my daughter’s?

Now I have learned to be calm and I actually, enjoy watching my kids a lot more now.


Below is one approach that can be helpful:

STOP: Before the next game, if you haven’t done so already, ask your child how they want you to support them. They will tell you and I doubt that they ask you to shout negative and abusive comments to officials, other players or parents of the opposing team. Nor do I think they want to be reminded when they make a mistake.

As adults, we don’t like to be reminded of making mistakes and if yelling complaints would be an effective teaching method, then teachers would be doing it in the classrooms.


THINK: As adults, we can control our behaviours (most of the time ha ha!). If you don’t yell at school assembly when your child is performing on stage, game time is not the right time either. Think about who is playing the game.


DECIDE: Before the game, decide not to join any Yelling unless it is encouraging and supportive words.




Let’s look at a short video. Jens Omli, assistant professor of sport psychology and coach at Texas Tech University has put together this short video using children’s feedback to deliver their message.

I think that would be a good indicator that we should ask our children what they want.


My final thought on this subject is this Italian sign next to the main pitch.

This photo is at the entry point to the main pitch in a club in Italy.


The sign reads:

  1. Coaches coach, referees, referee

You enjoy and support your son

Don’t think about technical or tactical advice just enjoy the game


  1. No game without opposition players

Enjoy and clap your hands as loud as you can


  1. The game starts in the change room, keeps going on the pitch and finishes after the shower. Respect your sons time with the team.


  1. If he is on the bench, it’s not a loss, but a starting point. Don’t argue with the coaches. Explain to your son if he trains hard it will pay off and that he will soon get his turn.


  1. The game is a test after a week of training/practice, learn to see the improvement of the team and your son and don’t only think of the result.

It doesn’t matter if they win or lose think only “today he had fun”


(Thanks Diego Pellegrini, Eastern United Football Club Academy for providing the photo and translation)

Have a great sporting week and let the kids have their fun.


About “Off the Pitch with Active”

“Off the Pitch with Active” is a program of interviews with people involved in junior sport in some capacity for the benefits of children’s development. I am hoping that these interviews will help parents and players gain more knowledge to help them develop to their best possible potential and develop confidence in their sport.


My work also includes research of different studies which can be helpful for parents

“Off the Pitch with Active” is shared through blogs and podcasts


Kids all around the world will benefit if this is shared.