It’s disconcerting for athletes to have parents/caregivers yell out instructions. Athletes may struggle to decipher what to do when they get instructions from the stands and from their coaches – especially if they are conflicting. Being mindful of what you are yelling to your athlete can help them better focus on the game and the strategy that the coach employs.

Commit to no-directions cheering to help your athlete succeed. Eliminate verbs in your cheering because you can’t give advice without verbs. For example, “Pass the ball to Sarah” is a no-no because it uses the word “pass” as a verb to give directions. On the other hand, “Great pass, Sarah!” gives no directions. You’re just commenting (appreciatively) on what you see Sarah doing.

Here are some examples of No-Directions Cheering:

  • “Great effort!”
  • “Good hustle!”
  • “Way to play defense!”
  • “Nice hit!”
  • “Terrific play!”
  • “Way to go!”

No-Directions Cheering is important because your athlete will do better if it’s their game. So, provide encouragement without direction – or even enjoy the game in silence. The more space you leave them to be the actor – a proactive player rather than a puppet on a string – the better.