Over ten years ago, the coaches of San Francisco Youth Soccer (where we got this idea and most of the content for this blog post) voted to have silence on one Saturday per season. They inspired “Take Back the Game” weekend for SFPAL and we’ve been doing it for three years now!
Why Have “Take Back The Game” Weekend?
The coaches recognized that most parents just cheer for the kids and the kids love that cheering. However, the coaches felt that the loss of the cheering as an experiment was worth it to meet the following objectives:
- To emphasize that the game is about having fun and letting children play;
- To support coaches who want to give their players a chance to play totally on their own, but are unwilling to do it when the coach standing next to them is providing constant direction;
- To help the few parents and coaches who feel that they must provide constant direction to the players understand that the kids can play very well on their own with limited instruction.
Many have asked why SFPAL and SF Youth Soccer imposes “Take Back The Game” silence on everyone – why doesn’t the league just deal with the coaches and parents who are the problem?
- Since SF Youth Soccer started silent Saturdays in 2001, the vast majority of feedback has been positive, so we have decided to practice it on one weekend per season. We’ve heard great things at SFPAL, too!
- Many coaches are very uncomfortable talking directly to parents about not yelling instruction to kids.
- We do not have the resources to have staff at every game: each weekend, we conduct hundreds games involving thousands of kids, volunteers, and their families at over a dozen locations.
Let us know what you think of this weekend! We’re eager for your comments and suggestions.
—–Rules For “Take Back The Game” Weekend—–
You are free to chat on the sideline, but tmay not make any comments on the game or direct any comments to players on the field. You may only cheer by clapping.
U12 and Above: You may not provide any direction to players who are on the field. The only thing you may yell out is “Substitution” at the time when it is permitted (your own throw in or either team’s goal kick). At this time you may also direct a player to change position. You may speak quietly to any players who are on the bench.
U10 and U11: You may not provide any direction to players who are on the field. The special rules on substitutions are still applicable. During a substitution, you may also direct a player to change position. You may speak quietly to any players who are on the bench.
U9 and Below: You may provide direction to players only in the case of clear and major errors. An example is a defensive player who has forgotten and moved up to play offense – comment would be “Tommy – remember you are a defender.” Another example would be left vs. right wings. For a player with the ball, direction should be limited to telling the player that they are heading toward the wrong goal. The special rules on substitutions are still applicable. During substitutions you may also direct a player to change position. You may speak quietly to any players who are on the bench.
This will be a much quieter game! Please speak to your team when you are on the field. Your coach may ask you to have an offensive and defensive player on the field that is coordinating efforts on the field. Players on the field are free to support each other and provide direction to each other. Players on the bench may cheer freely but may not provide instruction to those on the field.
Special for referees:
If spectators and coaches are not following the rules, the referees are to stop the game at the next whistle and speak to the coaches and have them speak to the spectators.
Have fun out there!