Ten things soccer coaches wish soccer parents would do

This comes from a client of ours, Auburn (IL) Soccer Association. Great stuff:

1. Get the players to practice on time, fully equipped and ready to go. Coaches understand that some kids have back to back activities, but there’s no reason for a player without a previous activity to arrive at the field the minute practice starts wearing high heels or sandles. Players should arrive 5-10 minutes early, ready to play, with cleats/shinguards on and a water bottle. Leave the toys at home – no balloons, skateboards, electronic devices, etc.

2. Let coaches know more than 6 hours in advance if your child won’t be able to make practice or a match. Based on the number of players who can’t make a given event, it can affect how coaches plan to run things. You don’t need to ask permission – just let them know a couple days in advance if you can.

3. Pay attention at practices. If you have a child that can be, er, a handful – stick around at practice at least once a week and watch. If your child starts to become a distraction to the team during practice, ask the coach if they want you to step in and take care of it. Some may, some may not. But don’t just drop your child off and run away, knowing they may be disruptive. It’s not fair to the rest of the team. Also don’t ignore the obvious because it’s your child. Coaches want EVERY child to have a chance to play and enjoy the game, but disruptive children sometimes become too much for a coach to handle and a parent really needs to step in and handle things.

4. Refrain from coaching from the sidelines. Coaches want the players to focus on the game and any instruction they may shout out from the team touchline. So stick to cheering and encouragement. If you find the urge to coach overbearing – ask the coach if they need an assistant!

5. Put your folding chairs at LEAST 2 yards away from the touchline. Our fields include ‘parent boundary lines’ which allow the players to take a step or two to throw the ball in. It’s also a danger to players trying to make sliding saves or who collide/trip/lose control near the parents if you’re sitting too close.

6. Respect the coaches decisions and, if you have a problem, approach them about it. Don’t bottle it up inside, let it stew or share it among the rest of the parents. Coaches are not perfect, but perhaps given some additional explanation you might understand what they did. If not, at least you know why they did what they did.

7. Try to have your paperwork, fees, and any other administrative stuff taken care of well in advance with the league. Coaches just want the kids to play, have fun and learn. The less that paperwork intrudes on that, the better.

8. Don’t scream at your kids on or off the field if they make mistakes. That’s how they learn. Coaches tell their players ALL the time that they’d rather see them take a risk by trying out a soccer move and losing the ball, than taking the safe route using the inside of their foot all the time or passing the ball as soon as they get it. Too many players are afraid of making mistakes at a young age on the field. Risk taking and creativity should be encouraged.

9. Volunteer to help the league. Coaches and the league administrators do not get paid. They donate tons of time ensuring the league operates smoothly. So when they ask for help doing concessions, paperwork, field maintenance, fund raising, etc., offer to help. If you look at other programs in the area, our recreational program is dirt cheap because it is run by volunteers. Where else can you get 2-3 hours a week of healthy activity for your child for $30-$40 a season? Too many leagues rely on a core group of committed but overworked volunteers to run things because parents aren’t willing to donate an hour or two during the season. We aren’t asking you to commit to multiple hours every week for the entire season (though we’d love it if you could!). Just an hour or two a month.

10. Have fun. Youth soccer should be fun for kids AND adults alike. By keeping a level head and a positive attitude, you can have about as much fun as your child does. So keep things in perspective and have fun!

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