Its strange what the game of football can do to you!

Excitement, disappointment, heartache – just a few emotions that are felt whilst watching the professionals play their game. Bring the game down a few notches to a non-league level and it could be argued that emotions run a little higher?

We don’t expect our teams to do well at this level, we dont expect a screamer from outside the box or a spectacular scissor kick or even a precise 150 yard pass – but we do expect effort, commitment and an attempt to pass the ball in lieu of our entrance fee.

We go home sad if we lose, happy if we win and we rue all the missed chances if we draw but we always come back optimistic for the next game.

But what about the Youth game at true grassroots level – does everything change when we watch our children and their friends play – of course it does. Theres been many a time I’ve seen a mild mannered parent suddenly change into someone quite different simply at the blow of a whistle.

It seems amazing how sarcastic we can all become watching a game of youth football, a snide comment here and there and a few thrown at the referee for good measure. But has anyone every wondered what triggers our anger? Why someone can suddenly send off a tirade of expletives from the touchline, why do we lose our mind?

Putting it in a very simple way events that happen on the pitch come into our brain and either pass through the Cortex (the part where logic and judgement reside) or through to the limbic system (where our emotions reside – also known as our storehouse of memories).

If the limbic system takes over, a flood of hormones are released causing a surge of energy where we may say or do things that we may later regret – we’ve all been there right?

If we do suffer this bout of anger scientists say it can take up to 20 minutes to reach a fully calm state and start thinking logically again.

So if this is an automatic response perhaps triggered by our brain possibly by a previous experience – how can we keep calm on the touchline and enjoy the game being played in front of us – heres a few tips you can try:

1. Breathe – concentrate on your breathing with deep breaths – if you feel yourself tensing at something that just happened immediately focus on your breathing and relaxing your body

2. Enjoy the game – Focusing on the result and performance can be exhausting – concentrate on giving positive feedback throughout the game  (and praise yourself for enjoying the game too) If you stay encouraged, theres less chance of that Anger coming through,.

3. Look at the bigger picture – does this game REALLY matter to you next week, next month or next year – probably not. Don’t get caught up on things you cant control, youre on the sidelines not on the pitch so just remember whats really important to you.

4. Don’t expect perfection – nobody is perfect, your team wont be, the referee wont be and your manager definitely isn’t – but that is just fine. Don’t expect perfection – just enjoy the game.

5. Practice your patience – That unnecessary free kick, the unfair challenge, a wrong decision – they are all going to play with your emotions and trigger that Limbic system – so practice being cool and calm – you’ll feel much better!


The FA spend a huge resource promoting the FA Respect Programme to take abuse out of our game and protect the players, coaches and officials – maybe we need to look at ourselves a bit more closely and look at what we can do to prevent any more Tremors From The Touchline…

We’d love you to share and comment on our blogs but more importantly we’d love you to share your experiences with us. If you would like to tell us your story or if you have any tips on keeping calm by the touchline we’d really appreciate your comments.

Either comment below or send us your story at

Have a look at these great FA Respect videos below – brilliant!