The majority of youth soccer coaches have less than 3 years experience coaching players ages 8 to 18, most started coaching when their own boys or girls started playing competitive travel soccer. Around 85% of those coaches will also retire when their kids age out of youth soccer, thereby continuing a new cycle of wannabe coaches.
More than 82% of soccer coaches have a USSF grassroots soccer license (USSF E) or less. Not that you’re going to learn that much more at a USSF E or D course (I’ve done them both), but it’s a scary reality, that most coaches in the US are legally under-qualified.
Behind every quality youth soccer club, there is the coaching support system. This is comprised of the club’s coaching recruitment and retention system and a director of coaching and director of soccer operations and most of all an administrative support for coaches at both the club level.
Many youth soccer clubs really wont care about your licenses or diplomas, some are more concerned on how many players you can bring with you. For instance: One of my academy goalkeepers (17 year old female) has a higher license than her coach (lol) I know, it sounds insane but it’s 100% true!
Then there are other youth soccer clubs (for instance where my son is playing), where they have certain standards for their coaching staff. The minimum required license to coach there is a USSF D. In these past 6 months they have sent many of their coaches to USSF D and C license courses and it is to my understanding that they reimbursed the expenses (Course admission fee, hotel and transportation expenses) of each coach that successfully graduated.
This comes from the administration, the directors and board members, that believe that having a complete team of qualified coaches is the way to go… and they’re totally on spot!
Without good and qualified coaches, soccer players will have a very hard time developing and improving their skills. There are two very important key components of the quality of coaching in a club.
One of the most important criteria a player family uses for selecting a youth soccer club is the quality of the coach. Coaches spend a lot of time off the field preparing for training sessions and games. Much of this effort is never noticed by parents even though it contributes a lot to the quality of the player development. I Myself spend at least 3 hours on my academy session curriculum and I’m already working on the two GK camps set for June.
Many youth soccer clubs are non-profit organizations lead by boards of directors made up of volunteers. There are still some clubs that is made up of people who deeply care for the success of the organization and are not just there to snatch as much cash off the parents as possible.
However the most transparent and efficient organization must have very clear roles and responsibilities for board members that has them focus on budgeting but also on funding and policy development. Many Clubs may have some professionally paid staff and many volunteers to deliver the club’s message and the program throughout the community.
The board is also all about attracting club members, meeting with possible sponsors, and implementing in some cases fundraising programs. Without adequate funding, if the money is being spread among the founders through super high paychecks then the operations of the club are compromised or at least are set to a minimum and at the end of the day it’s always Mom and Dad that have to pay more!
How to keep your soccer players close and their parents even closer.
Have a pre-season meeting either a day before or even before the first drill session to discuss your plans with the parents, both coach and a board member give your 2 cents and most of all your expectations for the season. Encourage questions from the parents, involve them as much as you can.
Here’s the perfect example on what not to do: My son was at a youth soccer club where the board members would basically ignore certain parents, they would lie to us about coaches being no longer coaching at the club and they even become hostile if they were confronted for lying. This has brought their club to shrink 50%, where parents have pulled their children because of the hostility. This is the perfect example of a club that will see half its teams leave at the end of the season.
Express a lot of appreciation for their interest but also for their concerns. This will make them more open and at ease with you. Being an isolated coach has never worked, you don’t talk to them, the parents will make up their own conclusions and in most cases it will bite you right on the butt.
Always listen to parents ideas and feelings. However stick up for the clubs policy. Remember, it is their children that are involved. .
You have to Know what your objectives are and do what you believe to be of the best interest to the players/team and not to the parents.
I have never met a soccer coach that pleased everyone!
Know the club rules and also the basic game rules, as some parents are very competitive in both Bylaws and FIFA rules. Always be very prepared to abide by these rules and to explain them to the parents.
Always handle any confrontation one-on-one and not in the middle of a session. I would suggest not to be defensive and let the parent talk while you listen. A parent will get rid of their frustrations just by talking. Listen to their concerns and make good use of it and at the same time be sure to resist unfair pressure. It is your responsibility to make the final decision, you are the coach or board member.
It is highly suggested that you inform players and parents of any change as soon as possible. Don’t change things at the last moment, things that could have been changed a lot earlier.
What some coaches and board members neglect is that your players and their parents are not all the same. They will have a wide variety of backgrounds, beliefs and most of all “ideals”. This diversity is to be valued one player and parent at the time.
The challenge for you as aboard member or a coach is to address these differences in a very positive manner so that the soccer season will be enjoyable for everyone involved including yourself.
Unlike Europe, we don’t have an elite soccer development system, but instead have a pay to play system. Who pays? The kids? No, the parents! Keep that always in mind! Parents are why you have a coaching job!