There has been much publicized in the news recently about a concept called “Silent Saturday” for youth soccer games. Here is an article about it that was in the Washington Post:
One of our U8 SAM teams coached by Helen Trainor decided to give it a try at one of their recent games. They called it a “Quiet Game” but the principles behind it were the same. Helen’s letter to us follows. Have a look and we’d love to hear your feedback about trying this at SAM games next fall.
Coach Trainor’s Letter:
First of all thanks so much for what you do for SAM. I wanted to just let you know about a little experiment we did at one of our recent games. I had heard from a few people I know who coach that various groups had tried implementing a “quiet game.”
Another parent I know suggested handing out lollipops to help if needed to keep the parents focused on something else and giving them a distraction. So at our game we had a quiet game. We have been planning this a few weeks and preparing the kids and parents. Our parents (AND THEY DID IT I WAS SO PROUD) were told to only cheer positively but to limit it and just enjoy watching the kids play. We told them no instruction whatsoever and to try to be quiet. I instructed the girls that they should only listen to the Ref, no one else. I explained some things I wanted to see during the game, gave their positions and then only gave some encouragement, I like your choice, looking good, great run, great shot, etc.
Some observations from this I wanted to share.
- First of all, WOW did I hear every little thing the other coaches were saying since I wasn’t talking! They never stopped talking. The other coaches are good people and I am sure that I might sound similar in another game. They were yelling each specific instruction and I really got to thinking, do I normally talk that much when coaching?
- IT WAS SO MUCH QUIETER. It was so nice to watch them and focus on watching the entire game, not just the action and see where to tell them to adjust.
- When I knew I only had a few minutes to tell them things before and at half time, I think I used the time more efficiently and they listened A LOT MORE attentively. They knew this was the only time to ask questions and make adjustments.
- I had the kids go thank their parents at half time for not talking and ask them to keep it up. The parents LOVED the positive reinforcement hugs from their kids.
- The kids didn’t talk to each other as much as I hoped but I think some of that was age and also really thinking through what they were doing. They did better the second half with talking to each other.
- They really listened to the Ref. We had who I respectfully refer to as the Best Ref. I am blanking on his name, but he is tall, thin and SUPER amazing experienced Ref who is so so patient and great with the kids.
- After the game I asked the girls how they liked playing the Quiet game and they LOVED IT! The only child who wasn’t 100% sold was my own child (this didn’t surprise me but gave us some things to talk about.) She said she LOVED the parents (including her Dad) not talking but she missed being able to talk soccer with me and us not making adjustments. We had a good conversation.
- I asked the girls how it felt to play with no one telling them what to do. They said, awesome, great, fun, better, more fun, so nice no one is yelling at you, nice my Dad was cheering not yelling and can we do that every game?
I share this info with you as it might be fun to try it one weekend in the Fall or to have a “Silent Saturday/Sunday” at the entire Soccerplex or throughout SAM. I think regardless of what the league decides we will try to do this 3 or 4 times in the Fall. The first few weeks back I think they need some instruction/reminders, but then maybe we will do every other game and I will really be working with my parents to stay quiet during games. As I coach I am going to try hard to let the girls play it out more and really think about how much instruction I am giving.
Again, just wanted to share some feedback on our little experiment and just plant the seed about SAM trying it in the Fall.