recreational soccer seasons are usually quite short and coaches often
don’t get enough contacts or time with their players. As a parent
coach, we can get so caught up in our agenda of the nuts and bolts list of
things we want to teach the players in practice and the season that we can
sometimes forget one of the important basics of coaching at this, and all
levels: making meaningful connections!
- Make a one-to-one verbal
connection with each player at every practice
and game day. The kids want to know they are seen and that it mattered that they showed up!
- Connect to where the individual
player is, emotionally, mentally and
physically. There can be wide range of abilities at the recreation level: try to
find a way to simplify things for the child who isn’t coming in as
naturally coordinated, or to have empathy for the child who has had a rough
day, or to create an additional challenge for the player who comes in with
more soccer experience.
- Connect what you work on in
practice directly to the games. Remind the
players about the new skill you introduced earlier that week and tell them
you are looking for them to try it against that day’s opponent.
- Remember to connect with the
parents! Introduce yourself to the group
and individually when you see a new face. Ask the kids to thank their
parents for getting them to practice and games. Let them know, either in
person or via email, something positive you saw their child do or something
that you are encouraging their child to try.
These little efforts can make a big difference in giving the entire team a
fun soccer experience.
Jemma Merrick is a life-long soccer fan, long-time soccer player and coach, and current soccer mom. After high school, Jemma played both Division I and Division III collegiate soccer, at the University of Virginia and Macalester College, respectively.