It is very important to have a pre-season meeting with both parents and players. This is your opportunity to set out your coaching philosophy (including your plans for the team as a whole and your approach to player development). This is also your chance to explain team rules in a non-confrontational setting (before any discipline is needed), and to recruit volunteers to help you with administrative tasks. Skip this meeting at your own peril.
Be sure to go over the Team Rules, and your expectations for parental behaviour (especially at games). While being friendly, be firm that you expect that parents will not yell at kids on the field or yell at referees – and that the ONLY talk that you want to see is positive (good try, nice save, etc.). Remind parents that children perform worse if distracted or harshly criticized, so you really need their cooperation. Also remind them that Refs are usually inexperienced themselves at lower age groups, and often will make mistakes. However, if we yell at the Refs, we can make the Ref more rattled, or get the Ref mad at the team, or even might convince the kids that the Ref is against them, which tends to make players want to stop trying or say/do bad things to the Refs themselves (which can get the kids in really hot water) – so you expect the parents to set a good example of sportsmanship for the team.
Here is a sample agenda for a preseason meeting, which addresses the common topics to be covered in the meeting.
- First of all, introduce yourself and your assistants (if any) to the parents. Most parents like to hear something about your background and your philosophy of coaching, especially as it impinges on their own child, so you may want to say something about how much playing time each player can expect.
- It’s also a good idea to go around the room and ask parents to introduce themselves and say which player they’re related to. Some of the parents may know one another well, others may not, and they’ll be seeing quite a bit of one another!
- You may also want to pass around a sign-in sheet and ask people to put their name and phone number on it; this can be useful later to see who was present at the meeting and to check phone numbers.
- Distribution of Player Packets (see below)
- Discussion of Plans for the Team
- Common problems of Under-10 Boys which require stretching and coordination drills at each practice.
- Need for every player to do soccer homework between practices.
- Expectations for player development by end of season.
- Expectations for win/loss record by end of season.
- Review materials in Player Packet (Player roster with phone numbers and addresses, Team Rules and Parent Expectations, Questionnaires, Medical Release, Practice place/times, Player equipment needs, Game Information). Interested in going paperless? Consider using our team management app to distribute this information (shameless plug).
- Need for team for volunteers
- You may want to set up a parent committee if there are matters such as fundraising or carpooling to be handled that are outside your jurisdiction. If possible, it’s a good idea for this committee to be appointed on the spot and meet for a few minutes to get to know one another.
- Team Uniforms/Team Name
- Any Equipment needs of team (nets, goals, etc.) and fundraisers needed to obtain these items.
- Special Skills Clinics
We’ve also put together an example of Team Rules for you to consider.
- Players must call if they will miss practice.
- If a player misses practice during the week, he must make arrangements with coach for skills work to do at home to cover areas missed.
- Team line-ups for games are prepared on Friday evenings before each game. Players must advise by 8:00 pm on Friday if the player will be unable to make game. Note: If player looks questionable due to illness or injury, please call in order to allow back-up plan if player is unavailable.
- Players are expected to show positive attitudes, and to follow directions given by coaches. The coaches will not permit whining, grumbling, horse-play, or other disruptive acts during games or practices.
- Players must show courtesy towards teammates at all times. Coaches will not permit name-calling, teasing, criticizing or other acts designed to hurt feelings or cause injury.
- All players must be willing to play all positions, and follow the assignments given by coaches. Over the season, every player will be on both defense and offense. The attitude of “I’m too good to play defense” is silly. All good players need such skills.
- All players will be assigned about 15 minutes/day of homework on specific soccer skills. Please encourage players to practice at home – this is the only way that they will improve their skills.
- Failure to follow Team Rules, and abide by the Player Agreement, may result in appropriate discipline (including reduced playing time). For severe and uncorrected problems, players could be asked to leave the team – although we hope this never happens.
- During games, players are expected to show courtesy to opponents and to referees. The decision of the referee is binding, so don’t whine over bad calls.
- Parents should avoid any taunting of opponents or disagreement with the referees, in order to teach sportsmanship to our kids. All communications to our child or teammates should be general and positive (“Good pass”, “Nice kick”, “Way to go”). Please avoid giving coaching instructions or criticizing your child.
Does your team have official rules posted? Is there anything we missed that you would add to this list?