By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching Instruction
As we head into another fun filled (should be) and overly competitive (you know it will be) season, it seems appropriate to pull together a few threads that may help all of you enjoy the coming season a little more.
My belief in people and energy to ensure all our youth players get a fair shake has been renewed this summer by the 150 plus coaches that I have met and taught in National coaching schools. This group of coaches all wanted to learn about the game and had a genuine desire to help the players in their charge. All were prepared to abandon LAPS, LINES and LECTURES and embrace player centered learning with no dribbling around cones at its core. To all those I met, I thank you on behalf of your players for the time and effort you have committed and wish you luck in your coaching journey.
So for all the important groups that form the youth soccer experience I ask the following.
For Soccer Parents
1. Realize that learning and fun must come before competition. Celebrate passes in a row and player combinations rather than simply results.
2. After the game make a promise to restrict yourself to one sentence. "I enjoyed watching you play"
3. Find out what the playing style of your team and coaching staff is and support it.
4. Avoid at all costs shouting orders at players as they attempt to make complex decisions at game speed.
5. Dedicate time to read at least one, soccer educational article a season. You need to learn the game.
For Team Managers
1. Recognize that you have a vital role to play in supporting the team but unless you have coaching credentials avoid coaching.
2. Employ a trainer, as 80 percent of you do, based on solid educational criteria not who you like or don't like. It's not about you but it is about the kids you look after. The State website provides a list of trainers with their credentials, as well as insuring they have completed a background check.
3. Understand periodization and training affect. You cannot plan a sensible season without understanding these two principles. It is as fundamental as baking a cake with no oven.
4. Recognize that youth development is different than college soccer or professional soccer.
For Board Members and Presidents
1. Make every effort to provide at least one educational event for parents, coaches and players this season.
2. Do your best to ensure that all the players within your club receive age appropriate training this season.
3. Talk about and reevaluate or produce your Club mission statement. Should be a working document.
4. Ensure all "professional trainers" working in your Club have appropriate and current coaching licenses.
5. Read and examine the NSCAA club standards program. Do you meet the minimum standards?
Lastly and most importantly for the "Players"
1. Play because you love it.
2. Always treat you teammates, coaches, refs and opponents with respect.
3. Find time to give back to the game and help another team or player learn.
4. Become a fan. Watch the game on TV and find a team and player you love. It will help you learn.
5. SAY THANKS. Remember to thank your coach parents and teammates after ever practice and game.
If each of the above groups can make these things happen we will have all improved the youth soccer environment in a real way.
Best wishes for the season!