Stop joystick coaching your kids

Parents yelling instructions from the sidelines need to go

Mike Holden
3 min readOct 20


Thoughts from the soccer sidelines on a Saturday morning.

Things that are not joystick coaching:
- “Great play!”
- “Nice save!”
- “Keep it up!”

Things that are:
- “Move up! You’re offense!”
- “Pass it!! Pass the ball!”
- “That’s you! Step up!!”

Parents think they’re helping when they yell things from that second set of bullet points but it just causes confusion. Google “joystick coaching.”

Your kid needs to hear their coach and make game decisions on their own, not with you in their ear the whole game. The rest of the kids hear your yelling too and get confused.

You can’t sideline coach them at school or when they get a job, so don’t do it in youth sports. Prepare them for a life where you won’t be always be there.

I don’t see a lot of dads and moms yelling out instructions in the World Cup.

Sideline instruction does the opposite of what you want it to do

A few weeks ago, I watched a seven-year-old goalie make a mistake that resulted in a goal, and joystick coaching seemed to be the cause.

As the goalie gathered the ball, three coaches on one side of the field started yelling what the player should do with the ball. That by itself is enough to confuse a kid.

On the opposite side of the field, two parents hollered out instructions on who he should direct the ball to.

Suddenly, the kid tossed the ball, a little bit toward one side and a little bit toward the other, with a confused look on his face. It’s like he didn’t know who to listen to and just split it down the middle, in a panic and overwhelmed by all the instruction.

The ball went right into the center of the field, directly to an opposing player who shot and scored.

Maybe let the goalie make his own decision next time.

Organized sports means it’s time to…



Mike Holden

Marketing leader with 20 years of experience. Dad of 6. Get ideas in the No Budget Marketing newsletter.