Inside Tactics - Soccer Coaching Tip of the Week

Inside Tactics - Soccer Coaching Tip of the Week

Firstly, let me formally wish you all the very best for 2009 and I hope that you've had a good break over the holiday period.

Second, I've received many emails asking why haven't the JSC tips been going out!

That's my fault really but it's all down to you guys too. Here's why... in late November I asked for you to participate in our new book due for release later this year and ask me your most burning question so that I can cram in as much information into what is looking like going to be the best soccer coaching handbook ever.

I was completely blown away by the shear volume of questions that you asked. It's taken me the last 6 weeks to read through every question and start to group them together.

One topic that appears to be challenging many of our subscribers is the old chestnut of developmental or winning soccer.

So rather than wait to finish off the book to give the complete answer, I thought in this weeks tip I'd throw you a few of my thoughts. So here goes...

If your facing this dilemma, your not alone. Many other coaches are feeling torn too.

Situations like...

  • parents think their child should have more time on the field
  • opposition coaches intimidating players to gain an edge
  • at what should players, coaches take notice of score?
  • should players be encouraged to play a year ahead?
  • gifted and not so gifted players - how should I chose the team?
  • how to keep everyone engaged in training, challenging the better players while not leaving the others behind?
  • how to control negative comments and action from parents?

Any of these sound familiar? Faced any of these situations yourself? I'm pretty sure that we all have at some point.

Actually, one of our members posted this in the discussion forum...

"Hi Neil, the parents are giving conflicting calls from the line.The players are getting mixed messages.I am planning a meeting with them but I am afraid that not everyone will attend;we are having some personal conflict. Parents are very demanding and if I take their kids off, they keep them from training. This poses a problem in that I am limited in who to select and then have to play the training defaulters as well.

How do i work around these difficulties.

We are mid way through the season and currently laying 2nd on the super league log."

gabeeb cornelius

Here is the response that I gave to Gabeeb which I is pretty detailed and covers off many points.


This is a long response so bear with me...

OK learning point #1 for next season, book in a preseason contracting session with parents and players alike. Having a preseason session just allows you to set out your stall at the very beginning of the season. I can't impress upon everyone of our members how important your preseason "contracting" session is with parents and players alike.

Don't worry about not having the preseason meeting, there are points that you want to cover and you're showing the initiative by holding a mid season review.

Now is the ideal time to have a review... and put some markers down.

Keeping open lines of communication with parents all through the season is vital if you are to have a happy sideline... so once you've held this review, make a point every four weeks to ask if everyone is OK, on board with what's going on and also include the players too.

As your season is approaching the midpoint, let your parents know that you want to set aside a time in the upcoming weekly practice to speak to them regarding their children, their thoughts on the season and you feel the season has gone so far.

A good time to make this announcement is just after a game, when most parents are likely to be there to know that a meeting is being scheduled. Better still, have the date nailed down and let everyone know.

For my preseason contracting sessions, mid season reviews and end of season wrap ups I always produce a letter to give to the players, just in case any parents can't make it due to work commitments or stuff. I always leave my cell / mobile number too, so that there isn't any scope for anyone to say "I didn't know how to get hold of you!".

As I see it in your post, you have two main issues...

1. The conflicting instructions from the sidelines 2. Communication lines with parents.

I would deal with both at your mid season review.

Firstly, I would ensure that parents had their say first on how they feel the season is going. As you are sat 2nd in the table, things should be pretty positive here... but don't bank on it.

My team were sat top of the table and in two finals this year and we still had a couple of parents grumbling on the sidelines. The old adage goes... "You can't please all the people all the time!"

Listen for the parents that have a gripe though. These are the ones who are saying "why is my child being substituted?" What you must ensure is that your philosophy and what happens on the pitch are consistent.

If parents don't clearly know what your philosophy is, then they may have some reason to feel a little aggrieved at their sons / daughters being sub'd. Since, you are sat 2nd in the table spell out now what you intend to do for the second half of the season. For example...

  • How you plan to pick your starting line up
  • Your use of subs
  • Are you in it to win it? or Just to let the players enjoy themselves?
  • Will everyone get equal playing time?
  • Do the players need to earn their position in the team?
  • If players need work, what do they need to work on?

These are just a couple of points parents and players can expect from you. But you also have to make a couple of demands too. Like the instructions from the sidelines.

I have a philosophy that I will field a team that I think will win the game. I also tell the players at the beginning of the season that they must earn a call up to the first 11 that takes to the pitch on any given Saturday, it's not a right.

I expect players to be a training in order to be selected at the weekend. There has to be a pretty good reason why a child isn't at practice if they want to stand a chance of being picked at the weekend.

At the mid season review I went through the points I made at the beginning of the season and asked the parents had anything changed in what I promised I'd deliver as to what was happening... the answer was no.

A few seasons ago, I had a couple of parents shouting from the sidelines. All I did was ask them to stop it, if they noticed something happening on the pitch then to come and speak to me. Then I'd decide whether it was something or nothing. The problem with too many coaches on the sideline is that the players can and often do get conflicting information.

Again, this is something that you can reinforce at your mid season session.

As for the parents who are very demanding, you need to decide whether you need their child on your team. If they are an ace that you must keep for the good of the team then the parents may need just as much managing, but will your efforts be better spent coaching the team or spent managing the sidelines. Only you can decide.

If the child is expendable, or they are getting substituted all the time because they're aren't good enough, then cut them loose. Explain, that you're sticking to your philosophy and that their child may develop better under some other coaches direction or team structure.

I hope this helps and if you need any clarification or help on anything just shout out.

Good luck and keep us posted



The above post is typical of the kind of response that our members get in the dicussion. We take care of all our members at Junior Soccer Coach and any member that has a problem or issue, we do what we can to help them sort it out.

I hope that some of the pointers in the response to Gabeeb help you out in the running of your team.

That's it for this weeks tip.

Have a great weekend and good luck in your games.


Junior Soccer Coach
Helping You Develop Tomorrow's Soccer Talent, Today!

Printer-Friendly Format