Top Ten Things Soccer Coaches Should Do

As promised in my Top Ten Things Coaches Wish Parents Would Do, here is the top ten list from a parent perspective and what parents wish coaches would do. Obviously all the items in this list aren’t applicable to ALL coaches. But I’m sure all of us have been guilty of at least one of the following things at one time or another!

Remember, this is just my list – I’m sure you parents have many others y­ou would like to add, so comment away!

Top Ten Things Soccer Parents Wish (Some) Coaches Would Do

  1. Get a team manager. No matter how great a coach you are, you don’t need to be wasting time with paperwork, uniforms, snack schedules, etc. Even if it’s just a U5 Rec team with six kids on it – get a manager so you can spend ALL your time coaching and teaching our kids. Think of it as an investment since you will rely on a team manager more and more as the kids get older and if you find someone you work well with, it’ll pay off later on.
  2. No matter how smart you think you are, continue to take coaching classes and learn. You’re SO great with kids and our kids love to play for you, but we want them developed and to continue learning and they can only do that if you continue to learn.
  3. Put away the whistle. The kids aren’t dogs and while they’ll certainly stop and freeze at the sound of a loud whistle, they’ll learn more about respect and listening if you teach them from a young age to do what you ask without the whistle.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for our help. If our little Johnny is being a terror at practice, let us know! Yes, a few boneheads among us will get all bent out of shape that you said something critical of their little angel, but the vast majority of us are realistic, know our kids aren’t perfect, and if they are misbehaving – we need to know it.
  5. Talk to us. Even if it’s only via email, keep us posted on what your thoughts are for the team, how you think they are progressing, etc. If you do things we don’t understand, and that’ll happen often since many of us still don’t quite ‘get’ soccer, we’ll come up with all sorts of conspiracy theories as to why you did something. Not play by play, but in general – what are your goals, your coaching philosophy, are you planning a major shakeup in the lineups, etc. You don’t have to justify your decisions. Just keep us posted on what you’re thinking, how you think the team is doing, concerns you have about our behavior, etc.
  6. Get to practice on time or let us know if you’ll be running a little late and try to have an assistant prepared to get things started. Practice times are short and field space limited. Make the most of it.
  7. Don’t yell at the kids. Shouting so they can hear you is one thing. Yelling at them is another. Don’t do it. The kids should respect and look up to you, not be afraid of you.
  8. Evaluate the kids at the end of the year and be honest. We all think our child is going to be the next David Beckham (minus the tattoos) or Mia Hamm and unless we hear different, we’ll continue to think that. Yes, it’ll be awkward to tell some parents that their little angel isn’t already MLS caliber, but that’s life. Don’t be negative – just let us know what you saw, how our child has progressed, and what areas they still need to work on. It’ll help keep us a bit more rational and also give us information on ways we can help our child improve and succeed when they aren’t at practice.
  9. Don’t make them choose a sport because they overlap and be more flexible when they do. They’re kids and many have multiple interests. Just like how they skipped early basketball practices when the team was getting ready for the end of season soccer tournament, you should understand if they miss some pre-season practices in the Spring as they finish out their basketball season. Even if it means less playing time for a bit, don’t make them feel like they’re doing something wrong by playing another sport.
  10. Have fun. Coaches can have fun too and a team with a fun coach is going to have a better experience, even when losing, than a team that wins everything but has a tyrant coach.

We hold you in the highest regard because you voluntarily agree to spend hours on end with a group of energetic, rambunctious kids and still manage to smile about it when we’re pulling our hair out daily­ just dealing with ours. But they’re still our little angels and we hope you understand that we might be a little neurotic about that at times!

Leave a Reply

  1. This is one thing I’m not good about at all. Most of the paperwork is handled at the club level, so I just have to make the initial contacts. We make parents do the uniforms themselves (we’ve got a deal at the local soccer store). I then get a parent to do the snack schedule and the hard stuff is done.

    I don’t actually mind the weekly reminders, I’m on the computer enough that it is no burden. I’m also anal enough that I freak out if the parent doesn’t get the message out by Thursday night.

  2. So I left out a couple of key words in my comment. Getting team manager is what I suck at doing. But in my coaching environment where most of the admin stuff is done at the club level, I function fine without one.

  3. John – I’m curious about the breakdown of admin stuff from the league vs the team. Who handles the paperwork (medical releases, registration, codes of conduct, etc)

  4. This may not apply to rec as much, but a coach should always prepare for their sessions. Have a ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ for different situations.

  5. I find the combination of ‘no playing time pushups telling the parent to take the child to one side’ works wonders as a Plan C. 😀

  6. I have found one of the best things that parents and the players want from the coach is an honest evaluation of the players ability ability and where they can improve on. As a coach I have given players an evaluation of their improvement from many aspects, technical ability, fitness, attitude etc. and the evaluations have always been received as an objective appraisal intended to help the player

  7. Agree 100% Nigel. Working on my team’s evaluations right now. Our league just started doing them. When I can com eup and catch my breath I’ll post the form we use for everyone to see.

  8. Pingback: Top 10 Things Soccer Coaches Think Parents Should Do « Sports Performance Republic's Blog

  9. I can identify with this list as a parent and a coach. Just wanted to add that coaches should constantly re-evaluate their own performance as well as their players’ performance, so they can continue to improve. This is my soccer coaching checklist of how to review your own performance as soccer coach:

    To improve as a coach, and pass on that improvement to your players, you need to reflect on your own soccer coaching skills and look for ways to enhance them.


    I work in three-week blocks and have a particular focus for these soccer training sessions. For instance, it might be that we need to improve our defensive organisation around free kicks or corners.

    I write down the key points I need to put across to my players over these three weeks. I then break the list down into the objectives for each individual session and the key message for the players to take away from the session.

    From that I decide which small-sided coaching games, drills and exercises will best introduce and reinforce the message.

    Do and observe

    As I coach the session, I analyse key aspects of my coaching. I focus on one or two elements of the session, such as my demonstrations and questioning or organisation and work/rest ratio. I make mental notes about them and how effective they are in the session.


    I am very critical of my own coaching and always striving to improve it. Immediately after the session I ask myself how well the session went. Were the elements I was focusing on as effective as I had wanted?

    I always write brief notes on my session plan to remind me what went well and what could be improved upon in the next session. I also review the session within my three-week block. Did I cover everything I wanted to? Are there areas where the players need more reinforcement?

    Keep to the cycle

    I coach to improve my players. To improve them, I need to improve myself. This is why I keep to the cycle of “plan, do, observe, review” and I keep detailed plans on which I also write my reflections.