Parents are comfortable giving instructions to their child and this comfort naturally spills over into athletic competitions. However, when it comes to game time instruction, coaches, league staff, officials and sports psychologists all have one word of advice - DON'T!
Although it seems like a good idea to yell "pass" or "hustle" from the sidelines, studies show that these instructions cause more distraction than help. These instructions interfere with coach-to-player and player-to-player communications and, more importantly, interfere with children's ability to learn to think for themselves.
Kids are going to make mistakes while playing sports. But professional athletes do too. Michael Jordan missed three times as many game winning shots as he made and Joe Montana completed only about half of his pass attempts. Kids still learning their sport aren't going to perform any better and there are many more games ahead in which to improve.
So what can parents do along the sidelines? The answer is cheering and not much else. Parents must let their kids play the game for themselves and develop their own experiences working with peers and coaches. If children make mistakes, learning to deal with those mistakes with their teammates and coaches is just part of the process of growing into an better adult.