Coaches there are usually a few actions we can take to make sure the season runs smoothly for our teams. I know the season has started for all of us but it's still not too late to make sure that your players and their families are well informed and know what to expect on a weekly basis from the experience of being a member of your team. If you have not done so already it's probably a good idea to have a quick team meeting. This doesn't have to be a long or extravegant gathering, but simply a quick chat with the parents before or after a practice session or game. I direct this towards our "older" teams (U13-U19) for the simple reason that I know most of our "younger" (U8-U12) meet with Stich and/or Eric in June or July to get geared up for the year.
In this meeting (or if it looks like it's impossible to meet with your group/s, a very informative email is acceptable) there are several topics that should be covered. I have listed a few below;
Competition Calendar; Always stay ahead of the schedule. Try to give your families the greatest amount of time possible to plan for training, scrimmages, tournaments, and league matches. Use a calendar (I use google calendar to keep my U13 & U14 families all on the same page). And have your manager send out an update/reminder on training and games for the upcoming week every Sunday evening.
Philosophy; Give both player and parents an idea of why you play the style of game you do, how you practice to play that style, and why a player may play certain positions to help the team achieve that style of play. You may also want to share your individual philosophy or policy on playing other sports, expectations regarding attendance at training, etc.
Playing Time; Parents of the teams I coach weere told to expect their daughter to play half the game. If they performed well in training and in the game, they may play more, they may play the entire game. But that they can expect half if they have a good attitude, were at practice, perform in an impactful manner duing the game, and are respectful to all those involved. (Kids are here to play the game, this is the fun part, we as coaches need to find a way to play them even in the biggest of matches).
Post Game Discussions; Let parents know that there is an understanding across the entire MO Girls Division with regards to the "24 hour rule". A parent must wait 24 hours before approaching the coach to discuss anything regarding the last game.
Weekly Update/Recap - All of us on the Staff feel that the "Weekly Recap" is invaluable. It is a great way to stay in touch with your families, give them your thoughts on training or games, remind them of policies you may have, encourage the positive cheering from the sideline, and of course give a little update on what is right around the corner on the schedule. I even go so far as to discuss certain tactics I used in games and why I thought it important to use such tactics and how the result of the game will dictate my training in the upcoming weeks. There really is no limit on how strong of a connection you can create with your parents in these weekly recaps. We highly recommend these and don't be afraid to copy your Age Group Director.
Build Up Line - Coaches the "build up line" is not only something that US Soccer is mandating at certain ages and in certain leagues, it is important to this club for one simple reason. Our style/brand of soccer is based on many parinciples, "Building Out of the Back". We want all of our players, on all of our teams, to feel comfortable and able to make good decisions with the ball coming from the back half of the field to their front half of the field (without the keeper punting). So, coaches, do your best to adhere to this line and everyone needs to hold themselves accountable for making sure their players don't creep over the line to press too early.
Referees - Obviously we expect everyone involved in the game to respect the referees before, during, and after the match. But some decisions the referee makes don't have to do with a handball or an offsides. Recently, when a player has been hit in the head, the referee has not allowed the player to return to the game even if the player has been checked by coaches, parents, and even a trainer. The ref has this option, he/she is in complete control of the game at that time and may have reasons to keep the player off the field in fear of their health. Obviously here at the club we like that the ref has our players safety in mind and is taking care of our children so please, even in situations that are not the norm, respect the referees decision.
Coaches, it's not too late to "refresh" your families regarding these "expectations", but as we get further into the season this type of info becomes less affective.