Website Manager

American Youth Soccer Organization Providing world class youth soccer programs that enrich children's lives.

Norfolk and surrounding area AYSO Soccer

Silent Saturday

Silent Saturday" is used in AYSO Regions throughout the country with a great deal of success. Its main purpose is to just let the kids play and have fun without having to worry about how their performance is affecting the adults on the sidelines. "Silent Saturday" is a throwback to the old schoolyard days when kids would congregate after school and on weekends just to play the sport all day without regard to who was winning and repercussions for poor play and decision-making. Coaches are requested to communicate and reinforce this with spectators! The objectives of holding a "Silent Saturday" are:

 

  • To emphasize that the game is about letting the kids play and have fun

  • To give the players a chance to play totally on their own

  • To help the few parents and coaches who feel they must provide constant direction understand how disruptive it is

  • To show all parents that the kids can play well on their own with limited instruction

While the vast majority of adult verbal participation is intended to be positive and constructive, the fact of the matter is that games can (and have in the past) become so loud that the players often have difficulty hearing each other on the field. Taking one week off from any verbal interference may help adults gain perspective on just how loud they've been in the past. You will all be amazed at how quiet the field will be-come.


RULES FOR SILENT SATURDAY:
Spectators We request that you make no verbal comments about the game or direct any comments to the players or referees (or coaches) on or off the field. Clapping IS allowed! Be creative in how you choose to cheer your child's team - make signs to hold up or bring a rally towel in the team's color and wave it wildly. There are lots of ways to cheer other than verbally. But please no noise makers and especially no whistles, or compressed air horns.

Coaches: It is recommended that you do not provide any direction - verbal or non-verbal - to players who are on the field. You may speak quietly to any players on the bench and have a conversational discussion about the game with the players before and after the game, and during halftime. You may also speak to players during a substitution.

 

HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE:

Spectators
  • Clap
  • Wave a sign
  • Use a rally towel
  • Talk amongst the other spectators


Coaches
  • Talk/educated to the kids on the “bench”

  • Discuss the game during quarter and half time breaks

  • Have one player convey a message to the rest of the team

Watch a short video on Silent Saturdays

Silent Saturdays Make Better Players: Why Sideline Screaming Can Stifle Your Child’s Game

Imagine you're undertaking a fairly difficult task: assembling a piece of furniture with hieroglyphic instructions, filling out IRS Form 4562 on April 14, or standing on the highest rungs of a ladder painting the crown molding in your living room with 14-foot ceilings. Think it would help if someone yelled at you during the process? Of course not. 

Yet when a child tries to control a bouncing ball in a crowd of other kids, adults often believe it's perfectly acceptable to scream “advice.” The shouting at America's soccer fields is so epidemic one wonders if adults ever reflect on their behavior. Adults, who would never shout at children while they're enjoying the playground, drawing in a coloring book, or rearranging their dollhouse, loudly instruct from the sidelines without hesitation.

When adults scream from the sidelines they're not just invading the children's playtime, they're preventing children from learning the game of soccer in a natural manner. The shouting is detrimental to the children's development as soccer players and at worst can turn them off to the sport entirely.

If parents want to help their children become better soccer players, they can offer to kick the ball around with them in the backyard. But sideline instructions deny children a chance to make their own decisions, it stifles their creative instincts, and all too often the instructions are misguided.

When a player has the ball there are generally three options: dribble, pass or shoot. In the long-term, the great players are the ones who choose wisely most of the time. But if, when they're first learning the sport, that decision is being made for them with a scream from the sideline, how can we expect them to develop the soccer instincts they'll need to make the split-second decisions that are so much a part of the game?

“We don't want to turn the children into parrots waiting for someone to tell them what to do,” says John Ouellette, AYSO National Coach. “Soccer is a free-flowing game for children to enjoy and learn from playing. As an organization, we discourage sideline instruction not just from parents but also from coaches.”

When adults scream from the sidelines they're not just invading the children's playtime, they're preventing children from learning the game of soccer in a natural manner.

During the first stage of soccer development it is essential that the children are allowed to discover the game on their own terms. High-level coaches constantly complain that players come through the ranks dependent on instructions because they've been bossed around in the early stages -- being told where to run and when to pass. They also cite a dearth of truly creative players -- the ones with the ability to make the unpredictable moves-blaming the lack of freedom children are afforded during their early years.

Much of the sideline screaming comes from ignorance about the stages of development. While most parents would know that addition and subtraction must be mastered before algebra is introduced, at the soccer field they often expect children to perform maneuvers they are simply not capable of.

AYSO Hall of Famer Sigi Schmid is a former youth coach who coached UCLA to an NCAA title before entering the MLS ranks and winning a crown with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He stresses that coaches and parents must appreciate how young players learn the game.

Schmid says, “The first thing is, ‘It's me and the ball.' The second is, ‘It's me and the ball and where's the opponent?' Then it's, ‘It's me and the ball, and where's the opponent, where's my teammate?' He's taking on more information. That's how he develops.”

The screams from the sideline interfere with this process -- besides often being misguided and counterproductive. To take a few examples:

“PASS IT! PASS IT!” Discouraging dribbling in the early years is like telling toddlers to shut up when they're learning to speak. Young players should be encouraged to dribble-because dribbling is the first step to mastering all ball skills-and there are far better ways to introduce a passing game when children are ready to comprehend teamwork. The passing game enters soccer at the later stages and one will notice that the children themselves will ask each other for the ball.

SPREAD OUT! Just because the first years of youth soccer look chaotic doesn't mean the children aren't learning. In fact, it's perfectly fine that they all chase the ball in a swarm. Sooner or later they'll figure out how to take advantage of time and space. They'll comprehend positioning by exploring the field, not by being treated like chess pieces.

SHOOT! SHOOT! SHOOT! This usually comes from an ear-piercing parent-coach chorus as a child dribbles toward the goal and I have little doubt that were it eliminated from the soccer fields of America we'd see more goals in the youth game.

Even the youngest, most novice player knows they are supposed to shoot the ball to score. And can it possibly help a child perform the difficult task of striking the ball while running as fast as they can by being screamed at during the process?

Moreover, the “shoot” scream encourages players to pull the trigger earlier than they should. How do great players score on breakaways? They usually wait until they get close to the goalkeeper. It's much harder for the keeper to save a shot from four yards away than from 15. There's also the option of rounding the keeper, especially when a patient attacker forces the keeper to commit.

Shooting advice I often hear from high-level players is not to rush the shot -- that players often have a little more time than they realize. As young players learn to cope with the high-pressure of a scoring chance, they don't need to be screamed at.

“YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!” For sure, it should be made clear to young players which goal their team is aiming at. But what I'm talking about is the outrage that often greets a smart young player who retreats with the ball to move out of the bunch. Watch a game played by sophisticated players and you'll find that they're constantly moving the ball in all directions to find space and time.

Young players taking the ball away from the crowd are the clever ones. Will they sometimes put their team at risk? Maybe. But so what? Giving up a goal in a U-8 game isn't nearly as important as allowing young players how to figure out how to keep possession.

“ATTACK THE BALL!” or “GO GET HIM!” is apparently meant to encourage a defending player to charge an opponent who has the ball at their feet. But in soccer, the defender wants to jockey into a good position to keep the attacker at bay. He wants to avoid over-committing and instead needs to figure out the right time to get a chance at the ball. It's a matter of positioning and timing that players master by facing the situation over and over again -- not by taking cues from the sideline.

Perhaps the inclination to scream instructions comes from a well-intentioned desire to help children “learn.” But when does screaming at children help educate them? When a child wanders toward a busy street, moves too close to a hot oven, or starts beating on little brother-OK, that might warrant a roar.

But does screaming at a child while you're assisting him with math homework help? Very doubtful. And certainly children should be allowed to play soccer without getting yelled at. Then they'll be able to pay attention to the best teacher of all: the game itself.

By Mike Woitalla
Playsoccer Fall 2008

National Partners

Our sponsors

Contact Us

Norfolk AYSO Region 420

PO Box 2001 
Norfolk, Nebraska 68702

Email Us: [email protected]
Phone : 402-750-1298
Copyright © 2019 Region 420  |  Privacy Statement |  Terms Of Use |  License Agreement |  Children's Privacy Policy  Login