As President of my local soccer club I get a few complaints from parents with regards to some of our coaches. Since I took over about three years ago, I must be honest and say the complaints have decreased, however there is one complaint that comes up consistently every year and throughout the year. Do you know what it is?
The biggest complaint I receive from parents is that the coach is not giving their child sufficient game time. The complaint not only comes from parents with children in the older age groups, unfortunately it also comes from junior teams as well, sometimes as low as U6. I must clarify at the outset, that I am talking about club youth soccer here, not elite representative [tag-tec]soccer[/tag-tec] where players are playing at a much higher level and have undergone a rigorous trial and grading process.
I must admit, when I first started coaching youth soccer, I was guilty of this as well. My attitude was more about winning the game and I would always look to put my strongest team on the field. If this mean’t that a couple of the weaker players in the team only got limited time, well unfortunately that was the sacrifice that had to be made for the team to be successful. I have always been a very competitive person and hated losing so I would not accept defeat well. It was very quickly pointed out to me the error of my ways.
One of the most important things that you have to know about [tag-tec]coaching youth soccer[/tag-tec] is that the emphasis should never be on winning games. The kids that you are teaching should be able to do what they are supposed to do in a [tag-tec]soccer[/tag-tec] game but always the emphasis should be on having fun and on learning the rules while they play and not on results.
Give each of the children equal playing time. It doesn’t matter if some of them don’t get it or they aren’t very good at playing soccer. This isn’t the point of learning how to play soccer. You want to be sure that you are able to have each of the kids play for the same amount of time and when it comes to various positioning, you want to be sure that you provide the child an opportunity to try out different field positions. This is something that is very important when coaching youth soccer because you have to be sure that you are teaching them correctly. One of the most important things that you can do when [tag=tec]coaching youth soccer[/tag-tec], is make sure that everyone is getting a fair amount of game time and that no one is feeling like they are being left out.
I know as a coach sometimes the players you have in your team are not always at the same level. This becomes especially difficult if you are coaching a higher graded team and there have been players graded in your team with lesser ability. Having been involved in numerous grading processes within our club, we don’t always get it right and unfortunately, due to team size restrictions, we have to place players in teams that do not necessarily match their abilities.
In conclusion, when coaching youth soccer, if you are in a position to have a number of reserves in the team, ensure everyone gets a good run on the field and share the substitutions around amongst all players. This will lead to greater team harmony both on and off the field and also provide you with a greater opportunity to coach the children and for all players to learn more about the game.
Good luck with it and I welcome any comments on your experiences as either a coach or a parent.