Gary Lineker reveals why you shouldn’t be a ‘competitive sports parent’ - and he doesn't hold back

Sports pundit and former England footballer Gary Lineker has given his verdict on parents who shout at their kids from the sidelines

Gary Lineker main image drop in of parents shouting from the sports stand
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gary Lineker has lifted the lid on the damage parents are unknowingly causing their children by shouting competitively at their child from the sidelines of the sports field.

Each family has its own parenting style, and while Kate Middleton's parenting style is often the go-to, when family disagree with your own parenting style experts have given their best tips.

But now football pundit and former professional England footballer Gary Lineker has given his advice for parents. As a dad of four to sons George, 31, Harry, 29, Tobias, 27, and Angus, 25, he has watched them play football throughout their childhood and he has a tough message to share.

Speaking on The Life Lessons Podcast about competitive parents, Gary explained, "Just let them play. I'm standing on the sidelines and I'm listening to parents shouting and bawling 'get rid of it' 'don't mess about with it there' and 99.9% of what they say is wrong. 99.9% of what they say is damaging their children. It's instilling fear into them.

"Just shut up. Shut up and let them play."

Gary went on to recall the time he experienced a parent act competitively during a football match.

"I remember one distinct thing where a parent walked onto the pitch and picked his child up by the scruff of the neck he said, 'If you play like that you're never gonna make the grade' and I thought mate, I've just watched him play. He ain't gonna make the grade anyway so just chill. Let him enjoy his football," he said.

"The truth is they'll reach the level that they'll reach anyway."

And Gary admitted they're "much less likely" to reach that level because of the pressure. 

"Even if they had an inkling of a possibility of making it, they are decreasing those chances," he added.

His advice comes after Lioness goalkeeper Mary Earps almost quit football before being selected to play for England's women's team.

And fans support what he's saying. One fan wrote, "I do agree with Gary, I always ask my grandson did he enjoy playing, yes he said every time, just encourage them and tell them they are amazing."

Gary Lineker (2L) and sons Angus Lineker, Tobias Lineker and George Lineker attend the World Premiere of "The Bad Education Movie" at Vue West End on August 20, 2015 in London, England

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another fan agreed and added, "I think the problem is too many parents, shouting too much rubbish, and too many kids who clearly haven’t got the natural talent or will highly likely not be professional footballers..."

But they argued that "there are kids with talent and parents wanting to push and get that extra bit out of their kids"

They explained, "Call it encouragement; or willing them on… great, nothing wrong with that either really is there. He isn’t saying that. This is aimed at the parents who know nothing about football shouting at their kids who are clearly not that talented and it makes it worse. It’s pointless. Fair point Gary."

It's not the first time he's faced criticism about a topic either, fans previously wondered what did Gary Lineker say? when one of his tweets criticised the government's policy on immigration.

For more parenting advice, here's how to talk to kids about coming out, and our sustainable shopping guide for back-to-school wear. And if you want to know more about Gary, here's how much does Gary Lineker earn?

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)