Silent Saturday

Each season, NGS designates one or two game days as “Silent Saturdays”. Our goal is to create a better game environment for the players by just sitting back and quietly enjoying the game. Although NGS undoubtedly has fantastic coaches and parents, many well-intentioned spectators show their enthusiasm, not just by cheering, but by calling out instructions to players on the field.

Here are a few of the phrases we hear over and over again from the sidelines:

There is nothing inherently wrong about these comments, but it is counterproductive. Constantly directing a child where to go and what to do during a game is disruptive and detrimental to their long-term development as a soccer player. The kids get confused, feel pressured, or become overly reliant on external instructions instead of learning critical decision-making skills.  Our young referees become intimidated, lose their confidence, and find another job.

The Challenge

Take a minute to imagine your child watching you and instructing your every move:

Do you feel annoyed? Distracted? Confused? Will this environment help you perform your best or learn to make decisions in the moment?

One Solution

Silent Saturday is a national youth soccer effort to enhance player development and game enjoyment by reminding coaches and spectators to let the players own the game. Players overwhelming report positive feelings about Silent Saturday. Most kids find it easier to concentrate and enjoy making decisions without the risk of being corrected from the sidelines.

The goals of the program are simple. During the game, we hope to:

  • Emphasize that the game is about letting the kids have fun and play.
  • Show that kids can play well with limited sideline instruction. Kids learn by playing and making their own mistakes in games.
  • Foster leadership, communication, and teamwork by giving players the opportunity to rely on each other and give their own instructions on the field.
  • Support our referees by eliminating sideline interference and comments.
  • Remind coaches, parents, and players that practice is the time for instruction. Games are the showcases for learning.

What should Coaches do?

Coaches are encouraged to keep instructions to on-field players to a minimum. Sit during the game and use the opportunity to coach the substitutes who are with you on the sidelines. Have them carry messages to the on-field players when they enter the game.

Silent Saturday is a great reminder that the vast majority of coaching should happen at practice. Watch, learn and take notes on what your players actually understand about the game and areas that need more focus. Often, we get wrapped up in seeing trouble spots during the game and expect players to fix it there on the spot.

What should parents do?

Parents are a big part of this program, and your support is needed to ensure its success. Parents are encouraged to show their support for both teams with applause, signs, pom-poms or gestures. Use your imagination to think of silent, fun ways to encourage your player.

Please visit our NGS Parent Education Webpage for additional resources.

Thank you for your support of Silent Saturday!

NGS has been running a Silent or Seatbelt Saturday for many years.  We have found it to be beneficial for our players and coaches.  Some adults hate it; some appreciate it.  Most players like it.  The referees love it.  We appreciate your willingness to try a different way to show your engagement by applauding, rather than verbally instructing players from the sidelines.