Coaching Letter For Parents

By Jeff Pill

The role that parents play in the life of a soccer player has a tremendous impact on their experience. With this in mind, we have taken some time to write down some helpful reminders for all of us as we approach the upcoming season. If you should have any questions about these thoughts, please feel free to discuss it with us, the coaches.

  1. Let the coaches coach: Leave the coaching to the coaches. This includes motivating, psyching your child for practice, after game critiquing, setting goals, requiring additional training, etc. You have entrusted the care of your player to these coaches and they need to be free to do their job. If a player has too many coaches, it is confusing for him and his performance usually declines.
  2. Support the program: Get involved. Volunteer. Help out with fundraisers, car-pool; anything to support the program.
  3. Be you child’s best fan: Support your child unconditionally. Do not withdraw love when your child performs poorly. Your child should never have to perform to win your love.
  4. Support and root for all players on the team: Foster teamwork. Your child’s teammates are not the enemy. When they are playing better than your child, your child now has a wonderful opportunity to learn.
  5. Do not bribe or offer incentives: Your job is not to motivate. Leave this to the coaching staff. Bribes will distract your child from properly concentrating in practice and game situations.
  6. Encourage your child to talk with the coaches: If your child is having difficulties in practice or games, or can’t make a practice, etc., encourage them to speak directly to the coaches. This “responsibility taking” is a big part of becoming a big-time player. By handling the off-field tasks, your child is claiming ownership of all aspects of the game – preparation for as well as playing the game.
  7. Understand and display appropriate game behavior: Remember, your child’s self esteem and game performance is at stake. Be supportive, cheer, be appropriate. To perform to the best of his abilities, a player needs to focus on the parts of the game that they can control (his fitness, positioning, decision making, skill, aggressiveness, what the game is presenting them). If he starts focusing on what he can not control (the condition of the field, the referee, the weather, the opponent, even the outcome of the game at times), he will not play up to his ability. If he hears a lot of people telling him what to do, or yelling at the referee, it diverts his attention away from the task at hand.
  8. Monitor your child’s stress level at home: Keep an eye on the player to make sure that they are handling stress effectively from the various activities in his life.
  9. Monitor eating and sleeping habits: Be sure your child is eating the proper foods and getting adequate rest.
  10. Help your child keep his priorities straight: Help your child maintain a focus on schoolwork, relationships and the other things in life beside soccer. Also, if your child has made a commitment to soccer, help him fulfill his obligation to the team.
  11. Reality test: If your child has come off the field when his team has lost, but he has played his best, help him to see this as a “win”. Remind him that he is to focus on “process” and not “results”. His fun and satisfaction should be derived from “striving to win”. Conversely, he should be as satisfied from success that occurs despite inadequate preparation and performance.
  12. Keep soccer in its proper perspective: Soccer should not be larger than life for you. If your child’s performance produces strong emotions in you, suppress them. Remember your relationship will continue with your children long after their competitive soccer days are over. Keep your goals and needs separate from your child’s experience.
  13. Have fun: That is what we will be trying to do! We will try to challenge your child to reach past their “comfort level” and improve themselves as a player, and thus, a person. We will attempt to do this in environments that are fun, yet challenging. We look forward to this process. We hope you do to!

Jeff Pill is the college soccer coordinator for Maranatha Baptist University, serving as the men’s soccer coach and overseeing the women’s team. Before coming to Maranatha, In addition to his USSF “A” License, a NSCAA Advanded National Diploma, and a National Youth License for coaching, Pill’s awards include five New Hampshire Coach of the Year awards, Sportsman of the Year, New Hampshire Senior All-Star Coach, and the President’s Award from the New Hampshire Soccer Association. Pill has served on the New Hampshire Senior All-Star Selection Committee, Vice President for the New Hampshire Coaches Association, a technical reporter for FIFA during the 1994 and 1999 World Cup games, and Director of Coaching for New Hampshire.

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Team Discipline

By Jeff Pill

Team discipline is crucial to the overall success of any team endeavor. Not only do disciplined teams perform well on the field, but, if teams are able to maintain good discipline both on and off the field, the overall soccer experience is far more positive for all involved; parents, players, coaches and administrators.

In fact, maintaining team discipline is one of the biggest fears or challenges for beginning coaches. Often, coaches are lost or ineffective because they are unable to maintain order and discipline with their team.

Towards the end, I have included several brief suggestions on what I have found to be successful in maintaining good team discipline. Hopefully, you have developed your own “list” of what works for you. If not, let this serve as inspiration to come up with your own system.

1. Plan Ahead

The single most important thing that can help is the coach’s organization. Here, if it is obvious to the players that practices are conducted in an orderly manner, with clear goals and objectives, they are more likely to treat both the coach and the training time seriously. If practices flow easily from one activity to the other with minimal “down time”, the players are able to stay focused on the task at hand. By making training meaningful and educational, the players will be motivated to pay attention and keep focused.

2. Choose Your Activities Carefully

There is nothing worse than putting players through “boring” drills that are inappropriate to their playing ability either by being too difficult or too easy. Activities should be fun, challenging and replicate the demands of the game itself. In this way, the players sense that their time is not being wasted. Having activities be competitive motivates them to play their best. Keep the players moving and engaged. Make sure that there are plenty of balls at hand so that a good activity is not interrupted by taking unnecessary time out to chase the ball. Even young players will engage themselves in a great game. Remember, your parents will appreciate the fact that their young player comes home and sleeps through the night because they have tired themselves out in healthy, engaging fun activities.

3. Have A Clear Picture In Mind of What Appropriate Behavior Looks Like

If you know what the players will look like when they are playing the game, you will be able to recognize when they are not playing the game correctly, or not behaving appropriately. This will enable you to step in immediately when inappropriate behavior is seen. As soon as you notice it, you must deal with it. Having a clear picture in your mind will allow you to be decisive. Then, you should also have a clear picture in your mind of how you are going to deal with the situation. Having players do push ups or run laps as punishment is inappropriate, especially for younger players. Removing them from an activity is more effective. Their primary desire is to be involved in their peer group. Therefore, removing them from the activity is an effective way to deal with problems that occur. As one coach said, “Don’t be afraid to use the bench!”

4. Involve The Parents

Especially with the younger players, having the parents support and reinforcing your discipline policies are crucial. Your expectations for player behavior should be clearly stated during the preseason parent meeting. Enlist their support. It has been my experience that they will be glad to do so.

5. Remember, You Are The Role Model

It is always good to remember that our actions are speaking so loudly that the players can not hear what we are saying. If we ask for respect, but show that we don’t respect others (e.g. the referee) then we are asking for problems. If we expect players to be kind to each other, but we are not kind to ourselves, then expect the worst. Model appropriate behavior and get it in return.

6. Recognize The Difference Between Open Acts of Defiance and Childhood Irresponsibility

“Kids will be kids” is a great phrase that both excuses a lot of inappropriate behavior, on one hand, and reminds us all that kids make mistakes on the other. When players openly defy, and act inappropriately, then swift, appropriate action is called for. However, when players momentarily forget themselves, and do not show any malicious intent, then a gentle reminder is perhaps more appropriate. Just remember, youngsters are often quite skillful at disguising the two types of behavior. We all have to be sharp in recognizing the difference so that we can act appropriately.

7. Finally, Be Sure To Put Yourself In Their Shoes

If we can remember what it is like to be at a fun practice that is both enjoyable as well as educational, we will be better off. Always ask yourself, “What would I like to do if I were at practice and needed to work on my passing?” This will enable you to avoid a lot of possible challenges.

Jeff Pill is the college soccer coordinator for Maranatha Baptist University, serving as the men’s soccer coach and overseeing the women’s team. Before coming to Maranatha, In addition to his USSF “A” License, a NSCAA Advanded National Diploma, and a National Youth License for coaching, Pill’s awards include five New Hampshire Coach of the Year awards, Sportsman of the Year, New Hampshire Senior All-Star Coach, and the President’s Award from the New Hampshire Soccer Association. Pill has served on the New Hampshire Senior All-Star Selection Committee, Vice President for the New Hampshire Coaches Association, a technical reporter for FIFA during the 1994 and 1999 World Cup games, and Director of Coaching for New Hampshire.