Contributed by Dennis Hillyard, FLMSL Head Coach
The younger that children can learn personal responsibilities, the better this will serve them in the long run – and not just in soccer but in life.
Convene a meeting of both parents and children. Introduce yourself and briefly explain your aims and objectives. Address the children but ensure that the parents are listening.
Ask them when does a practice or game commence? Naturally they will reply that either when the coach starts the practice or, when the referee blows the whistle to commence the game. WRONG: It starts approximately thirty minutes before you are due to leave home. Then YOU prepare your uniform, cleats, ball etc, so that when mom or dad say it is time to leave then you are ready to go.
NEVER arrive and tell me that mom did not pack your uniform or that dad did not put your ball in the car. Mom and dad do NOT play soccer – YOU DO.
The parents will greatly appreciate this as the kids more often than not will listen to their coach far more than to their parents. This will give you an added advantage when you need to discuss certain things with the parents such as not coaching from the touchline etc, as already they will have seen that you are teaching their children responsibilities
Obviously where young children are concerned then the greater majority depend upon their parents to ferry them back and forth for practices and games.
Again, addressing the children but with the parents listening, tell them that is better to be TEN minutes early than ONE minute late. Arriving late means that it disrupts the practice session or, where a game is concerned then it could mean the player arriving late will start on the bench.
Whilst you are addressing the players the parents will understand that this is a shared responsibility and react accordingly. After each practice and game, have a roster of players who take it in turns to assist with gathering in the cones, bibs, balls etc.
Sportsmanship at the top level of the game is almost a forgotten word today.
As a young player our coach made it a rule that after each game It was our responsibility to thank the match officials, the opposing players and coaches and finally the parents.
This was drummed into us from a very early age but unfortunately, as the game at every level has become more and more competitive then so has this practice declined. Once again, make this part of YOUR responsibility to encourage your players to carry out these functions after each game.