A running joke among soccer league officers and volunteers is ‘Offseason? What offseason?’ Here in NC, we’ve already held tryouts (two weeks surrounding Memorial Day), formed teams, and are currently registering players and submitting Intent To Play forms for the Fall.
But beyond that, summer is a chance to improve things and try to make things better for the Fall. For me personally, I’m headed to get my USSF ‘C’ License this August and I hope to finally lay out more of my training sessions on paper as part of an overall plan.
From a league perspective, there are a number of things we’re looking to accomplish this summer:
- Field Renovation – We’re doing some major work on our fields which got absolutely destroyed last year. Beyond wear from heavy use, we experienced some sizable ‘die off’ of our dormant turf, even in lightly trafficked areas. They are in horrible shape and we’re spending close to $15,000 to top dress, aerate, and ‘sprig’ them.
- Better engagement of Rec coaches – A common issue we see is that kids are not being taught some basic things. Everyone may run a passing activity in practice, but many of the kids don’t know how to pass. Or shoot. The mechanics are all wrong. Our goal is to further engage the coaches of younger age teams and try to really help them understand the important things to focus on for a given age.
- Launch a skills training program for U7 and U8 age players. Once a week for an hour on Sunday afternoon, any players interested can come out to a skills session run by our experienced coaches. The goal is two fold. First, we want to help them be better players. Second, we want them to get comfortable with soccer outside their cocoon. So many Rec players get very comfortable with one coach when they are young, they’re scared to death to play for someone else, either in Rec or Travel.
- Improve our payment collection system – yes I know everyone says youth soccer is all about the money and I’m just reinforcing that. But remember, our league has no paid staff, no paid team coaches. We pay skill trainers for our travel teams (10 sessions a season). So the bulk of the collected money is put right back into the program. With 1300 kids playing every year now, collecting payments is a major endeavor. So is tracking all those payments. So we’re working on a new system that’ll help both parents and managers know who still owes what.
- Finally starting to draft a real ‘Coaching Manual’ for the league that spells out our vision and includes insights from national as well as local resources.
What do you all have planned for the summer?