The beginning of a new season is always a fun time as a coach. I love meeting new players, their parents, and beginning to build the chemistry needed for a successful season. It is neat to see where each player is in terms of development and skill and what areas they can strive to improve on throughout the season.
My role as coach is a little bit of everything. It varies from psychologist to motivator to prankster to friend and mentor. More importantly, I need to serve as a good example to each player on my team in how I communicate and act when I am around them. If I am not in control of my emotions, how can I expect my players to be in control of theirs?
The biggest impact a coach can make at this level is players wanting to come back and continue with the sport.
I have been lucky in my coaching career that the parents I have worked with have been nothing short of fantastic. This comes from everyone understanding the role they play in this relationship and all of us working together.
I am NOT here to tell you how to run your house. Rather, I AM here to say that the relationship between coach, player, and parent can be beneficial for all involved, if approached with proper expectations and awareness.
Here are some tips for a successful season in working with your coaches and players.
Focus on the Positive When Talking to Your Player- If your child/player did something especially well (i.e. make a nice pass, have a good throw-in, score a goal, play good defense, whatever) tell them. Make a big deal about it! Kids, like many of us as adults, love praise.
I remember as a kid the car rides home after a game. I also remember how much I disliked those rides because it felt like every action I made during a game/match was being scrutinized rightly or wrongly.
I get it. It can be tough watching your player struggle or learn a new game. Remember, they are a lot like the baby giraffe below. Coordination, balance, don't always come easily. I offer the word patience as one to remember.
Even if your child had a sub-par game, find one or two things they did well.
It's About Fun and Continuous Improvement- The World Cup, Premier League title, college scholarship, or any other major soccer league championship is not on the line. (Deep breath).
Truthfully as a rec coach, I stopped keeping score a long time ago. I say that with peace and love.
I am looking for continuous improvement each week, a good attitude, and willingness for your player to have fun and want to learn. That's it, that's the list.
If you're keeping score, stats, or other things that bring personal gratification, I ask that you reconsider. It's about the player, not about us as parents.
Remember, we Only see Your Player an Hour Each Week, Maybe- Our time together for formal practice is limited each week. As a parent, you can help support me and the other coaches by encouraging extra work outside of practice.
I have my current rec team keeping track of their touches outside of practice.
You DO NOT have to know squat about soccer to kick a ball with your player. Say it with me, you do not have to know squat to kick a ball with your player.
This creates fun bonding moments with your child, helps get them excited for practice and allows them the space to try new things and succeed and fail. This is important to note because of the developmental aspect of the game.
As a coaching mentor once told me, "Nothing bad has ever happened because a player put in some extra work outside of practice."
Fun games like sharks and minnows, knock out, heck, even passing the ball, dribbling with their eyes up are all good ways to start.
I hope this was helpful. Would love to hear your take and what's working with you and your coaches. Leave a comment and tell me below.