5 Tips For First-Time Soccer Coaches
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Perhaps your soccer coaching journey started because you offered to volunteer in your local town league. Or maybe because you love the game and want to give back. Another reasoning could be because you’re a parent who wants to see the beautiful game through the eyes of your child. Whatever reason it is that brought you to the soccer pitch as a coach, TeamSnap has some tips and tricks to make sure you are adequately prepared for the gig.
Coaches all start somewhere, so remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint! Here are 5 tips for first-time coaches to ensure that your first season of coaching is full of learning, fun, and fulfilled expectations.
Immerse yourself in the sport
One of the best ways to learn is to fully immerse yourself in the subject or skill. Be open to soaking in all parts of soccer, from the specific skills and rules, to the player development and needs, the local teams and fandom. Don’t be afraid to get to know the other coaches, volunteers and parents within the soccer program you’re working at. You can take in so much by hearing from those who have been there before you. Immersing yourself into the culture of the team or club you are working at includes getting to know the parents.
Get to know everyone
Although it isn’t easy to deal with parents as a coach, put yourself in their shoes and be willing to communicate and meet everyone at first. One of the best ways to involve parents without having them take over your coaching role is to set clear expectations. If you’re a parent-coach, it’s even more important to set some guidelines. U.S Youth Soccer suggests:
- Involve the parents and enlist their support.
- Communicate your philosophy and team goals.
- Having the parents support and reinforce your discipline policies are crucial. Your expectations for player behavior should be clearly stated at the beginning of the season.
- Engage parents in the process of understanding best soccer practices
Develop a communication style that works for you
Every coach has a unique way of communicating with players. Learn what kind of communication style works for you and even more importantly gets through to the players. A lot of properly communicating has to do with the type of players you are coaching from characteristics like age, gender, and socioeconomic status. It’s okay to not have the communication style down on the first day. Players are receptive to coaches that try and are confident in their teachings and feedback. Test the waters, try different tones, animation levels and trust your gut. Most players aren’t afraid to offer feedback, so also look out for signs that they aren’t understanding or properly hearing you. Often times their game speaks for itself too. As a coach, you know you’ve successfully painted the picture when the players perform.
Develop a plan
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Coaches at the highest level still map out sessions. To get any coaching license, developing practice plans is a huge piece. As a first-time coach, keep a notebook. Draw your sessions out and reflect after practices. This will allow you to see what’s working and what isn’t. Also, when you are first starting out as a coach, having something to refer to during the practice is a nice reference point. Preparation at any level shows care and players respond well to structure and organization. One way to develop a practice plan is to think about the session in parts. Perhaps you follow a play-practice-play method or you jump right into skills like juggling, foundations and toe-touches. Find what works for you and the kids you’re coaching, but write things out and set goals for each session.
Become an exceptional listener
One of the biggest parts of becoming a strong communicator is listening. As a soccer coach, listening is crucial to the game. Listening can be broken down into determining player needs and team needs. As a coach it is your job to develop the players, but also strive for the greater good of the team. Be open to hearing what the players are saying to one another, not just you. Be receptive to feedback from parents and peers. It’s okay to not respond right away, but listen to everything. Another part of being a good listener helps you ensure safety of your players. Managing the performance environment is key, so listen to cues from the environment around you from sounds of weather in the distance, a hard tackle on the other side of the pitch, or whisperings between players.
TeamSnap for Clubs & Leagues can help first-time coaches by consolidating everything in one place. As a new coach it can feel overwhelming having a brand new roster, a long list of emails, new registrations platforms, among other things. With TeamSnap, as a coach you can have an all-in-one solution for your team. The Clubs & Leagues product allows organizations to streamline communication, track payments, have safety checklists, and more. As a coach, focus on the part that matters: coaching and playing. Sign up for a trial or demo!