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Now What?


After three tryouts for our Region’s All Star Team, we just heard that my son wasn’t selected. He gave his best effort, but he is still disappointed. I’ve given him the parental “keep you chin up” speech, but he could use with some more perspective. Now What?
 
Answer Validate your child's feelings and allow him to share his disappointment with you. Let him know that it’s totally normal to feel discouraged, but also to keep in mind some facts regarding tryouts in general. Here are a few tips to share with your child when they are feeling discouraged. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Just because one coach (or group of evaluators) doesn’t pick you, does NOT mean you would not have been selected by another coaching team.
It’s a numbers game. Only “X” amount of players can make a squad. And often, places on a team are not solely talent-based, but also founded on numbers, positions and roles, playing style and overall team dynamics.
Not making one team, does NOT define you as a player! Watching a player in a large group over a couple of nights is not the true measure of all of a player’s talents and potential. Did the coach see the in-season game where you made that awesome assist or cleared the shot off the line? No, he only got a few minutes of you to judge.
Remember if there were specific things the coach recommended you could work on, or things you feel you could have done better, then practice them. These are roadmaps to developing a game plan for future improvement.
Finally, try and keep the game in perspective. Whatever level you end up playing, strive to find enjoyment in the “process” of training, improving, participating and giving your best effort.

 Keep on kicking!


I know there are benefits to watching soccer and I want to encourage my son to find his team to follow. However, with so many leagues, so many teams, I’m confused. Now What?

Answer Watching from a neutral perspective is great for studying the game, but being really invested in a game maximizes enjoyment (and learning). Living and breathing each kick of the ball from the first to the last minute, like many sports fans do every day, helps develop a love of the game that many say is necessary to succeed on the field.

Picking a team can be based on many factors such as: Is there a local connection to where you live or hail from? Is there something about the way the team plays, a particular player, the history of the team, the color of the uniform, etc.... Is there TV coverage available in order to follow the team?

Becoming a fan of a team and following their schedule and results can really enhance learning and love of the game.


I think my 10-year-old son is a really solid forward, but his coach keeps playing him midfield, defense and even in goal last week! He only gets to play striker occasionally! Now what?

Answer Rotating positions for young players enhances their overall experience and perspective of the game. At AYSO, we don't formally introduce position-specific coaching until U-12. There is no harm in familiarizing players with the basic responsibility of each position at U-8 and U-10, but this doesn't mean players should be rooted to one spot covering their positions, while the game develops…without them! Goalkeeper positions can't be assigned until U-10. 

Regardless of age, all outfield players should be encouraged to defend and attack. Players should be given the freedom to be involved in the flow of the game, but empowered with the responsibility to cover their position (or have someone else cover it) if they choose to explore. Defenders should be encouraged to score goals, strikers encouraged to chase back and defend. There should be a constant ebb and flow.
 
Throughout the season, young players should experience all field positions to get comfortable with the different positions and areas of the field. This also applies to the goalkeeper position so that all children get a chance to develop their field skills.


Our season is over and my child had a great time playing, but he wants to keep up on his soccer, “Now What?”

 Answer Watch and learn. There are great benefits from simply watching the game. Whether high school, college, professional or international, watching the game as a spectator has incredible benefits.

Watching on TV provides unparalleled access to the modern game. It presents the opportunity to view soccer from many different viewpoints, as well as instant replay and more often, the ability to pause, rewind and watch again. Today’s TV coverage presents a global picture that can provide a colorful learning palette for any student: different nations, competitions, leagues, players, all featuring a wide range of cultures, teams and styles. Check out our partner FOX Sports 1 for multiple options, including the UEFA Champions League.

However, "live" games provide an atmosphere you simply can’t replicate. When attending live games, ideally position yourself where you can see the whole of the field (usually high up and around center field). Sensing the crowd’s passion and fanaticism for their team can be a great motivator for any young student wishing to one day reach that same stage.

Just play! The unstructured format of pick-up soccer provides an excellent time to be expressive, think freely and experiment with new ideas. Adult or coach led environments are important, but usually filled with direction, instruction, correction, therefore, the freedom to make mistakes, learn and move on in an organic, free, safe (and FUN), environment can be equally as beneficial to the student.


"Our season just ended and one of my assistant coaches wants our players to do conditioning in the winter so they come back prepared for the spring season. I'm not sure if this is allowed. Now What?"

Answer Coaches tend to be concerned about players staying in condition when  they should be more worried about the overuse of their bodies. Outside of soccer, kids usually play other sports and are generally active, so there's no need to add a conditioning plan or drills on top of that.

As coaches, we obviously want players to come into the season ready to play, but it's more important they have time to recover and come back healthy. The offseason gives players an opportunity to reflect on their season and re-energize so they're excited about coming back in the spring to play.


"I heard the new U5 schoolyard program includes fundamental motor skill (FMS) development with soccer blended in? I was expecting a simple soccer game for my little one, now what?"

Answer We can no longer assume children are physically equipped (through free play) to perform all the tasks we require in soccer. We must nurture their physical development in order to add soccer specific requests. Otherwise, we are often asking children to perform technical actions they are not yet physically equipped to execute (which can lead to frustration for the child and often the coach). 

This is why the first activity in every schoolyard session is physically simplistic in nature without the ball such as running. Not only is this a productive warm up method for this age group (gets blood flowing, simple, fun) but it also provides unopposed freedom to develop FMS. 

It is harder to acquire FMS in later teen years than during childhood, so we must prioritize FMS in our younger programs. Check out this FOX Sports 1 video featuring the fundamental elements of proper running technique.


"Our season just ended and one of my assistant coaches wants our players to do conditioning in the winter so they come back prepared for the spring season. I'm not sure if this is allowed. Now What?"

Answer Coaches tend to be concerned about players staying in condition when  they should be more worried about the overuse of their bodies. Outside of soccer, kids usually play other sports and are generally active, so there's no need to add a conditioning plan or drills on top of that.

As coaches, we obviously want players to come into the season ready to play, but it's more important they have time to recover and come back healthy. The offseason gives players an opportunity to reflect on their season and re-energize so they're excited about coming back in the spring to play.


"I overheard a coach saying he was going to an AYSO EXPO. I always thought those were just for Board Members and higher-ups. Now What?"

Answer  AYSO EXPOs are open to all AYSO volunteers and we strongly encourage you to go! AYSO EXPOs offer unique coaching workshops, some of which are only available at an EXPO. It's also a great opportunity to network with other coaches from within your Section. The best coaches in the world get together, share knowledge and learn from each other. Coaches hold an extremely important leadership role within our organization and this is a chance to represent the coaching community.

For more information on your specific EXPO, please visit here. The EXPOs will kickoff on Jan. 29, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

We hope to see you there!


"My U-12 team is playing our last regular season game this weekend and, if we win, we'll make the playoffs. My players are excited, but they seem nervous as well. I want to help calm their nerves. Now what?"

Answer  It’s natural for players at all levels to be nervous before a big game. Just remember that it's important not to harp on the playoffs and having to win, but continuing to improve and play well as a team. The players will focus on you and your message during training sessions, so make sure it's a positive and encouraging one that focuses on continuing to build on what you've been practicing. At the end of the day, making the playoffs isn't important when it comes to player development, and as a coach, developing players (especially at the younger ages) is much more important than making the playoffs. Win, lose or draw, let the players know that they've had a great season, you hope they had fun and you hope to see them next year!


“I have a parent who only wants their U-8 player to be a goalkeeper. AYSO doesn't allow goalkeepers until U-10. Now What?”

Answer Some parents may be under the impression that specializing in one position gives their child the best chance of improving. As with any position or sport, especially at a young age, a critical aspect of player development is trying and learning a variety of skills.

For instance, being a goalkeeper requires being able to read the game. This is why it's so important for players to try several positions out first. This is one of the main reasons that AYSO doesn't allow goalkeepers until U-10. Explain to the parent that by playing the child in different positions and giving him/her different responsibilities, you are ultimately creating a more well-rounded player who will have a better understanding of the game. Goalkeepers have to be soccer players first and goalkeepers second.


My team is very skilled and often scores many goals in the beginning of the game. I don't want to penalize the kids for scoring, but I don't want the other team to feel bad either. Now What?

Answer This is a delicate topic, but a very important one. A coach should never penalize the winning team, but should also not humiliate or discourage the opposing team. 

Coaches should be proactive early in the game if they see an obvious disparity. They can even the playing field by:

Rotating advanced players’ positions 
Asking players to perform a specific amount of passes before they score again
Requesting that players use their weaker foot 
Telling players to perform a turn or move before shooting

A winning team should never be penalized by having to reduce players, by sitting good players or to stop scoring altogether. 

There's no guaranteed way to lessen the chance of a blowout game, but by being aware and proactive, a coach can help lessen the impact. 


A parent just came up to me and complained that her son isn't getting enough playing time. But he plays half of the game, as required by AYSO rules. Now What?”

Answer AYSO’s first philosophy is Everyone Plays® which requires all players play at least half of each game. However, the spirit of this philosophy is to make sure all players are involved and engaged in the game as well. One possible solution to this complaint is to rotate which players are playing half of the game. For example, one player shouldn’t be relegated to only playing half of each game, while other players consistently play three quarters or the entire time! As a coach, every decision that's made should be in the best interest of the player. Make sure to share this with parents before the season at your coach-parent meeting and continue to stress your emphasis on player development throughout the season.


“I have a U-10 player who is disinterested in practicing and playing. Now What?”

Answer The foundation for coaching all players is understanding the psychosocial aspects of your players. There's a variety of reasons that players may act this way. As with all situations it's important for a coach to have a positive approach when dealing with a disinterested player. A couple of psychosocial aspects to consider for U-10 (from our U-10 Coach Manual) is a player's fear of failure. At this age, players tend to get their feelings hurt easily, and even a small mistake can shut them down. It's important to assess the player and situation before acting. Engaging the player in a conversation and asking simple questions to explore why they may be disinterested is the best way to gauge the player’s behavior and could explain where the disinterest is coming from. If the behavior persists, working with the player’s parent to find a solution is typically the best alternative.


"Last week was my first time coaching an AYSO team and I was surprised at the noise distractions and tempers from parents on the sidelines. I don't want to single anyone out, but I want the kids to have a good time. Now What?"

Answer This is an issue that should be addressed with parents at a parent-coach kick-off meeting. Even if the season has already started, invite parents to a get together at a time that's conveniently scheduled. If you set the expectations then you will have an easier time enforcing it. 

It's important to remind parents that we're trying to create a positive environment for the kids and that yelling on the sidelines to coaches, players or referees is detrimental to development. 

Consider becoming a Kid’s Zone™ Region. Kid’s Zone™ is a program that encourages fans on the sidelines and anyone else near the play, to use positive language, show sportsmanship and create a great experience for every player.

If the bad behavior continues, consider having a Silent Saturday which encourages anyone on the sidelines to not yell during the game. This will help kids develop on their own without any instruction being yelled at them. Email us to learn more about Silent Saturdays.


I’ve signed up to be a coach in the fall and have six weeks before my season starts. I’ve been through training, but need additional resources to be the best coach I can be. Now What? 

Answer  Thanks for signing up to be a coach. It’s a great experience that you’re sure to treasure for years to come. While you’re in this waiting period in the summer, check out the coaching section of AYSO.org. This area is filled with drills, training games, coaching news and much more. Also, keep this handy coaching guide with you. It covers all of the basic fundamentals of coaching for each age group.

 Did you receive an AYSO Coach manual? It’s a great resource and has a variety of activities and training plans. If you do not have a Coach manual, contact your Regional Commissioner or Coach Administrator to obtain one. Have a great summer.


I coached my child in the spring, but I want them to get professional training over the summer. Now What?

Answer  AYSO Soccer Camps offers a variety of different camps throughout the year and range from ages 4 to 16. We provide full-day camps, half-day and mini-day camps with the help of AYSO’s official camps provider, UK International. All of our camps are led by professional coaches that are registered AYSO volunteers and have completed the age-appropriate coach certification. AYSO Soccer Camps are great for players of all skill levels and provide a great opportunity to stay involved in soccer. Click here for more information. We hope to see you out there this summer!


I’m the parent of a U-6 player who will be moving up to U-8 and I’m interested in coaching his team next season. Now What?

Answer  We’re glad to hear you're interested in coaching your child’s team next season! If you’d like to coach, you should reach out to your Region and express your interest. In order to coach, volunteers need to register through eAYSO as an adult volunteer and take two courses: AYSO’s Safe Haven and a coaching course. As you may know, we have an age-appropriate training policy that mandates all coaches be trained in their age divisions. The U-6, U-8 and classroom portion of U-10 Coach training (coaches must complete the U-10 field session in addition to the online portion to be certified to coach U-10) are available online at www.aysotraining.org. In person courses can be searched for and found on eAYSO under “My Profile” and “Course Sign-up.” Once you’re registered and complete your two courses, you’re eligible to coach!


 

"Our season just ended and one of my assistant coaches wants our players to do conditioning in the summer so they come back prepared for the fall season. I'm not sure if this is allowed. Now What?"

Answer Coaches tend to be concerned about players staying in condition when  they should be more worried about the overuse of their bodies. Outside of soccer, kids usually play other sports and are generally active, so there's no need to add a conditioning plan or drills on top of that.

As coaches, we obviously want players to come into the season ready to play, but it's more important they have time to recover and come back healthy. The off season gives players an opportunity to reflect on their season and re-energize so they're excited about coming back in the fall to play.


"My season has ended and I want to come back a better coach next season. Now What?"

Answer There are many things a coach can do to improve during the off season. For one, we encourage all of our coaches to familiarize themselves with the soccer landscape by watching games of all levels – professional, collegiate and even high school. This will allow you to observe different skill levels to get a better understanding of the game and things you can focus on with your players. For younger age groups, don’t worry so much about the tactical aspect, rather, concentrate your efforts on developing the technical skills that players possess. The off season is also an excellent opportunity to take AYSO coaching courses to better develop as a coach as well as referee courses to provide a different perspective and help your overall view of the game. 

Thank you for coaching with AYSO and we look forward to seeing you next season!


"My U-10 team is playing our last regular season game this weekend, and if we win, we will make the playoffs. My players are excited, but they seem nervous as well. I want to help calm their nerves. Now What?"

Answer  It’s natural for players of all ages to be nervous before a big game. Just remember that it's important not to harp on the playoffs and having to win, but continuing to improve and play well as a team. The players will focus on you and your message during training sessions, so make sure it's a positive and encouraging one that focuses on continuing to build on what you've been practicing. 

Player development is a lot more important than making the playoffs so be sure that's your number one priority when coaching. Win, lose or draw, let the players know that they've had a great season, you hope they had fun and you hope to see them next season!


"I'm the coach of a U-14 girls team and we're nearing the end of the season. I'm not sure what the most important takeaway is to give my players. Now What?"

Answer  If you’re coaching a U-14 team, you probably have a team full of players who are there because they love the game. Your primary goal is for all of your players to return the following season. This is the age when most youth athletes drop out and if the player returns it's an indication that you made their experience fun and enjoyable. 

Players are also beginning to consider the world beyond their immediate community and may begin thinking about volunteering and coaching in the future. If you can send players out with improved decision making (both on and off the field), a desire to return and inspire them to give back to the game, that's a great accomplishment.


“We’re nearing the end of the season, and my team is 2-7. I want to make sure the kids keep having fun and don’t focus on the final score, but I have noticed long faces and poor body language. Now What?”

Answer This is an opportunity to employ Positive Coaching and shape the culture and perspective of younger athletes. As a coach, your goal is to make sure that players are having a good time and want to return the following season. 

Remember to always remain positive and continue to encourage your team, regardless of the score or record. Below are three great messages to convey to your team when dealing with multiple losses:

  • Point out to players that they're improving.
  • Establish goals and objectives that gauge team improvement.
  • Make it clear that losing a game doesn't equate to failure. 

Every loss can be teachable moment. It teaches kids that winning isn't everything and how to face adversity. Players will take the lead from their coach and parents, so if those individuals aren't making a big deal about the outcome of a game, odds are the kids won’t either! Let the players know that all you ask of them is to try their best and continue to try again the next time. 


 My child is in the middle of his spring season, but I would really like him to continue playing in a camp-like setting in the summer. Now What?

Answer  AYSO Soccer Camps offers a variety of different camps throughout the year and range from ages 4 to 16. We provide full-day camps, half-day and mini-day camps with the help of AYSO’s official camps provider, UK International Soccer Camps. All of our camps are led by professional coaches that are registered AYSO volunteers and have completed the age-appropriate coach certification. AYSO Soccer Camps are great for players of all skill levels and provide a great opportunity to stay involved in soccer. We hope to see you out there this summer!


“I have a player who is very talented, but tends to hog the ball and ignores his teammates. This doesn't seem fair to the other players on the team. Now What? 

Answer Coaching this type of player requires proper balance. Oftentimes this will be one of the more advanced players on the team, and as a coach you don’t want to discourage players from being persistent offensively. However, it's also important to stay true to Player Development and playing ‘the right way,’ which means teaching players ball movement and that winning at all costs isn't the goal. Ball hogs often value winning too highly. Talk to the player in a positive and calm way and explain how you would like them to change their approach. Ultimately, ball hogs are hurting their own development as well as their teammates. Soccer is a game of ball movement and player movement and emphasizing this to all players is key.


I'm coaching a U-8 team and the parents think that we should have goalkeepers. I've explained that there are no goalkeepers until U-10, but they don't understand why. Now What?

Answer  Soccer games with no goalkeepers serves as a much better learning environment for young players. At young ages, players learn basic motor skills, rules of the game, fundamental concepts and find ways to interact with their teammates when they are running, fighting for the ball and fully involved with each play. Aside from missing out on crucial development, by sticking a player in goal, children are asked to take on a role they're not physically, emotionally or mentally prepared to handle at that age. 

Some parents may be under the impression that specializing in one position gives their child the best chance of improving. As with any position or sport, especially at a young age, a critical aspect of player development is trying and learning a variety of skills. Being glued to the goal isn't the best way to develop and isn't very much fun for a young player who wants to run around and chase the ball. 

Explain to the parent that by playing the child in different positions and giving them different responsibilities, you are creating a more well-rounded player who will have a better understanding of the game. The parent needs to understand that on average a goalkeeper touches the ball seven times with their feet for every one time they touch the ball with their hands. Goalkeepers have to be soccer players first and goalkeepers second.


"My Region has decided to implement Silent Saturdays as a way to reduce the loud noise on the sidelines and parents are upset! They think their children enjoy the loud sideline noise and cheering. They don’t understand how Silent Saturdays helps the kids. Now What?"

Answer  Silent Saturdays were designed to eliminate the epidemic of parents and coaches yelling instructions from the sidelines. An easy analogy is if you were in the middle of a task, would it help to have someone screaming at you and telling you what to do? No, so why is this acceptable on a soccer field?

Parents need to understand the spirit of Silent Saturdays, which is to allow players to make decisions and learn the game. After all if the child doesn't make their own mistakes, it will hinder their development in the sport. If parents think their children are confused and don’t know what to do without sideline instruction, that's an indication that players haven't been allowed to make their own decisions. Players will learn the game by making their own decisions, learning from their mistakes and continuing to play. 

Watch this video of Scott Gimple, AYSO's Deputy Executive Director, discuss the benefits of having a Silent Saturday. This interview was featured on the Hallmark Channel and talks about best practices, why screaming from the sidelines is bad for player development and what to do when all of this becomes unmanageable. Consider sharing this video with families during your kick-off meeting or as needed when sideline behavior becomes an issue.


"I'm a third-year coach and absolutely love it! This year I'm coaching a U-8 boys team and I find myself having to restructure practices for players who are being disruptive and distracting other players during the drills. This can get frustrating for player's who want structure! Now What?"

Answer  It sounds like what you're doing is the best option to keep the kids engaged with shorter activities and keep them moving instead of assigning long and drawn out activities or lectures. Consider using positive reinforcement and reward players when they follow directions by acknowledging their good behavior. A few ways to show your appreciation is by letting them go first in an activity, give them the opportunity to choose an activity and even let their parent know when they do a good job in front of the player. Players at the U-8 level require concrete reinforcement and positivity as they become more self-aware.

If you are running out of ideas for activities, the AYSO Coach manuals are a great resource and have a variety of activities and training plans. If you do not have a Coaching manual, contact your Regional Commissioner or Coach Administrator to obtain one.


“We’re a couple weeks into the season, and my team hasn't won a game or even scored yet. I want to make sure they keep having fun and don’t focus on the final score, but I've noticed sad faces and poor body language. I don't want them to lose hope or interest. Now What?” 

Answer  This is an opportunity to employ Positive Coaching and shape the culture and perspective of younger athletes. Remain positive, and continue to encourage your team. Make sure you point out how players are improving so they stay motivated. Consider establishing team goals and objectives that gauge team improvement. Make it clear that losing a game doesn't equate to failure, and that there are many positives and learning opportunities that can be taken from a loss. 

As a coach, it's important that we provide the perspective that winning isn’t everything, and that it’s pertinent to learn how to face adversity. Players will take the lead from their coach and parents, so if those individuals aren’t making a big deal about the outcome of a game, odds are the kids won’t either!

Let the players know that all you ask of them is to try their best, and continue to try again the next time.


I have a player who is far more advanced than any of the other players on my team. I give him more playing time than the other kids because he’s the only one that scores and now parents are starting to ask why their child isn’t getting the same amount of time. Now What?

Answer  Remember that development is much more important than winning. Players who may not be as talented need that extra playing time (even more so) to develop into a better player. Kids learn how to play the game by getting out on the field and making mistakes, not from watching on the bench.

As a reminder, each player in AYSO must play at least half a game. Some Regions even require that a player must play three quarters before any player could play four. If this “star player” is getting a substantially larger amount of playing time, it’s unfair to the other players who want to learn and have fun.


I have a team bully on my U-10 team who is disrupting the flow of the game and making other players feel uncomfortable. Now What? 

Answer  A team bully can quickly spoil the fun for everyone around them, including players on their team and other teams. One of the most important aspects in coaching is understanding the psychosocial aspects of your players and recognizing when bullying is an issue on your team. There's a variety of reasons that players may lash out and take up the role of a bully and figuring out why that happens is the key to stopping it.

It's important for a coach to have a positive approach when dealing with a bully. At this age, players tend to get their feelings hurt easily and even a small mistake can cause them to lash out through bullying others. It's important to assess the player and their situation before taking any decisive action. It could be anything from a fear of failure to being disappointed of their role on the team. 

Asking the player simple questions to explore why they may be acting out and showing you care about how they feel is the best way to find out what’s going wrong. If the behavior persists, working with the player’s parent to find a solution is the best next step.


"Tempers have been getting high at my games. Parents are yelling at the kids, referees and at me. Now What?"

Answer This is an issue that should be addressed with parents at a parent-coach kick-off meeting. Even if the season has already started, invite parents to a get together that's conveniently scheduled. If you set the expectations then you will have an easier time enforcing it. 

It's important to remind parents that we're trying to create a positive environment for the kids and that yelling on the sidelines to coaches, players or referees is detrimental to development. 

Consider becoming a Kid’s Zone™ Region. Kid’s Zone™ is a program that encourages fans on the sidelines and anyone else near the play, to use positive language, show sportsmanship and create a great experience for every player.

If the bad behavior continues, consider having a Silent Saturday which encourages anyone on the sidelines to not yell during the game. This will help kids develop on their own without any instruction being yelled at them. Email us to learn more about Silent Saturdays.


I'm coaching a U-11 girls team and sometimes feel like I'm being too positive. Now What?

Answer The short answer; no! You will find that positivity is contagious, and this starts with the coach. Positive coaching gives young players a positive introduction to the game that will make the game more enjoyable and keep them wanting to come back. Positive coaching is about more than the game, it’s about teaching life lessons. This includes a player’s effort, whether they’re learning as they play more, and how they respond to adversity – which are all skills that are applicable to every facet of life. Positive coaching will breed positive results – the results being players that will have a fun and memorable experience!


I’m coaching a U-10 team and they play extremely hard during games. However, when it comes to practice, it doesn’t feel like they put the same energy into it. How do I motivate them and make them understand the importance of practice?

Answer This is a great question coach! I’m sure many coaches can relate to you. I have always told my teams that practice is where you will improve as a team and as individual players the most. Keep in mind, many players believe that the game is the only thing that matters and that practice is not important, so emphasizing the importance of practice is key. Practice is an opportunity to gain more repetitions, try new moves and develop trust and camaraderie among the team. You as a coach have total control during practice too, so make sure it’s structured in a way that players are maximizing their touches and staying engaged. In your case, perhaps the players are thriving off the competition. if so, you could create activities that foster an environment of competition. It’s great your team plays hard during games, let them know if they played that hard in practice, they could be even better!


How do I deal with parents who complain about losing? I have a U-9 team and certain parents have begun making comments on how we could win more games. Now What?

Answer  The concerning issue here is that if parents are complaining about losing, your players will certainly pick up on that. This is something I recommend every coach address in the preseason when meeting with parents, but you can also address this after a game or even in a team-wide email. We aren't coaching professional sports teams and we don't evaluate our success based on our win-loss record. As an organization, we say it all the time; development over winning! As a coach, worry about what you can control. Are the kids having fun? Do they enjoy the game? Are they learning the game? Are their skills improving? Will they come back next season? This is what AYSO is all about. Talk to the parents and make sure they have the proper perspective on what you’re trying to accomplish as a coach.

*Note: In the 1/27/2014 issue of Hey Coach we stated that a player must have participated in the Region’s past season program to be eligible to participate in EXTRA™. This was incorrect, it’s open to new AYSO players as well. If you have any questions regarding this, please email zachs@ayso.org.


My child is interested in joining AYSO EXTRA™ , where do I go to find more information on that program?

Answer EXTRA™ is an additional program that Regions may offer in addition to their CORE program. EXTRA™ is designed for players looking for a more competitive level of soccer that embodies AYSO’s Six Philosophies. 

The EXTRA™ program may run concurrently with the primary program (can play on a Primary Program team and an EXTRA™ team) or side-by-side (can only play for an EXTRA™ team). Each Region’s EXTRA™ program schedule and guidelines are a little different, so you would need to visit your specific Region/Area website to find out about tryouts and registration. 


My child is signed up for the spring season, but I would really like them to continue to play in a camp-like setting in the summer. Now What?

Answer AYSO Soccer Camps offers a variety of different camps throughout the year and range from ages 4 to 16. We provide full-day camps, half-day and mini-day camps with the help of AYSO’s official camps provider, UK International Soccer Camps. All our of camps are led by professional coaches that are registered AYSO volunteers and have completed the age-appropriate coach certification. AYSO Soccer Camps are great for players of all skill levels and provide a great opportunity to stay involved in soccer. We hope to see you out there this summer!


I have a U-10 team and they aren’t able to execute the more advanced activities that I’m setting up. I really want to develop their skills, but it’s just not working. Now What?

Answer  Coach, it’s important to remember that while skill development is an important part of coaching, the real goal is to make sure your players are having fun. At 8 and 9 years old, you don’t want your players feeling like soccer practice is work – they’re not professional athletes and this isn’t their job. They’re kids who want to play a game because it’s fun. Often times we as coaches think the most advanced activities are what will help our players improve the most, but at this age, players are still developing a foundation of skills. I wouldn’t worry about them not being able to execute advanced drills; instead focus on the basics. Players with strong fundamentals will be better prepared to learn and execute more advanced skills.


We’re just getting back to practice after a long winter break. I feel like I've forgotten everything! Now What?

Answer Hi Coach! We hope you had a great holiday break. If you’re looking for a refresher, you have a couple options to get back in the coaching mindset. You can read through your AYSO Coaching Manuals for a quick review of coaching ideas for all ages. These manuals have quality methodology brought to life with simple graphics, season-long activities, lesson plans and mobile-friendly demonstration videos. If you don’t already have one, contact your Regional Commissioner or Coach Administrator to get a copy of the AYSO Coaching Manual.

In addition, you can head on over to the AYSO Training website’s online training section and review the  courses within the coach training section. 

Still at a loss for ideas? Contact us here for some extra training tips.


"I overheard a coach saying he was going to an AYSO EXPO. I always thought those were just for Board Members and higher-ups. Now What?"

Answer Coach, AYSO EXPOs are open to all AYSO volunteers and we strongly encourage you to go! AYSO EXPOs offer unique coaching workshops, some of which are only available at an EXPO. EXPOs are also a great opportunity to network with other coaches from within your Section; the best coaches in the world get together, share knowledge and learn from each other. Coaches hold an extremely important leadership role within our organization and this is a chance to represent the coaching community.

Registration is available online through eAYSO. For more information on your specific EXPO, please visit here. The EXPOs will kickoff on Jan. 9, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.

We hope to see you there!


“I want to instill more confidence in my players. Now What?"


Answer
  Creating a more confident player starts with creating the right environment. Players should feel secure and comfortable with you as their coach. This can be accomplished by making sure players aren't afraid to make mistakes, therefore freeing them up to play the game. Players will also gain confidence by practicing their skills, which is why it’s important to stay away from long talks and running laps. Consider including dynamic activities that emphasize more touches, dribbling, passing and shooting in each practice. Lastly, encourage players to continue to perform these skills in games regardless of the outcome; players will only improve and learn by executing their skills repeatedly in games and practices.


“I am a U-12 coach, and I have heard whispers that I am only an “AYSO coach”, which seems to be a shot at my credibility as a coach. Now What?”

Answer Well, being an "AYSO Coach” means being a part of the largest football club in the world! We have great tools and resources available to all of our coaches, including a nationally accredited coaching program that features in-person and online training for every coach. On top of that, we have industry leading, age-appropriate coaching manuals that have been reviewed by and received contributions from U.S. Soccer, NSCAA and other professional and Division I head coaches.

Coaches that take advantage of these resources will not only be educated on the soccer aspect of training their players, but understand the importance of developing the entire person, not just technical and tactical skills. Our coaches are trained to create an experience and inspire players to continue to play the great game of soccer.


I have parents in my Region who believe that their child will improve more by playing against older children. They want their 8-year-old to play in U-12 instead of U-10. Now What?

Answer   Sure, children can learn from a challenge, but they also need success in their lives as well. Whenever possible, AYSO doesn't recommend children playing out of their age division. Kids who play with their own age group will have more opportunity to take on more responsibility and become more of a leader.

There is also the psychosocial aspect – players who play up a division will be 2-3 years younger than their teammates. This creates a much more challenging social situation for the player and forces him/her to interact with kids that are at a different developmental stage, go to different schools and have different friends and interests. Remember, just because a player is physically ready to move up, doesn't mean that they're emotionally ready.

At every level of soccer and sports in general, teams are made up of players of varying skill levels. There’s no reason AYSO would be any different.


"I am the coach of a U-14 boys team and we're nearing the end of the season. I'm not sure what the most important takeaway is to give my players. Now What?"

Answer  If you’re coaching a U-14 team, you most likely have a team full of players who are there because they love the game. The best outcome for the season would be to have all your players return the following season; this is around the age most youth athletes drop out and the player returning is an indication that you made their experience fun and enjoyable. Players are also beginning to consider the world beyond their immediate community and may begin thinking about volunteering and coaching in the future. If you can send players out with improved decision making (both on and off the field), a desire to return and inspire them to give back to the game, that is a great accomplishment.

P.S. Be on the lookout for the new AYSO Intermediate Coach manual in 2015!


"Parents on the sidelines are frustrated with the referees. This is beginning to carry over to the players. I want to cut it off before it gets worse. Now What?"

Answer This is an issue that should be addressed before the season with parents at a parent-coach meeting. It is important to remember that referees are an integral part of the triangle (coaches, referees, and parents) that creates a positive environment for the kids. Referees are there for the same reasons coaches are – to make sure the kids have a safe place to play and have fun.

On the sidelines, it is important to set a good example. There are very few reasons for a coach to address a referee, and really no reason that a parent should. Whether or not you agree with a call that’s made, try turning it into a teachable moment for the players and parents. Sometimes calls or decisions aren't fair, but a lot of things in life aren't either.

Blaming referees also shows a lack of professionalism. As a coach, there are many plays and decisions during a game that can make an impact. You fail to take accountability for your own decisions and your players’ decisions by placing the blame on the refs. Regardless of what calls are made, the game is about the players, and that’s it. This is the message that needs to be relayed to your parents.


"My Region has implemented Silent Saturdays and many parents are upset. They think their children are confused and enjoy the loud sideline noise. They don’t understand how Silent Saturday helps the kids. Now What?"

Answer Silent Saturdays were designed to eliminate the epidemic of parents and coaches yelling instructions from the sidelines. The easiest analogy is if you were in the middle of a task, would it help to have someone screaming at you and telling you what to do? No, so why is this acceptable on a soccer field?

Parents need to understand the spirit of Silent Saturdays – to allow players to make decisions and learn the game! After all if the child doesn't make their own mistakes, it can hinder their development in the sport. If parents think their children are confused and don’t know what to do without sideline instruction, that is an indication that players have not been allowed to make decisions and have become dependent on coaches and parents, which is exactly the opposite of what we want to develop in our players. Players will learn the game best by making their own decisions, learning from their mistakes and continuing to play.

 


“We’re now a month into the season, and my team is 0-4. I want to make sure they keep having fun and don’t focus on the final score, but I have noticed long faces and poor body language. Now What?”

Answer This is an opportunity to employ Positive Coaching and shape the culture and perspective of younger athletes. Remain positive, and continue to encourage your team; make sure you point out how players are improving. Establish goals and objectives that gauge team improvement. Make it clear that losing a game does not equate to failure, and that there are many positives and learning opportunities that can be taken from a loss. We need to provide the perspective that winning isn’t everything, and that it’s important to learn how to face adversity. Players will take the lead from their coach and parents, so if those individuals aren’t making a big deal about the outcome of a game, odds are the kids won’t either! Let the players know that all you ask of them is to try their best, and continue to try again the next time.


“I am a second-year coach and love the challenge of coaching. This year I’m coaching at the U-8 level, and I feel like I spend a lot of my coaching time restructuring things for players who are either bored or disruptive, which tends to distract their teammates. This can get frustrating for those kids who want that structure! Now what?"

Answer Thank you for reaching out to us! It sounds like what you are doing is the best option – keep the kids engaged with shorter activities and continuously moving instead of long and drawn out activities or lectures. One thing you could try for players like this is positive reinforcement – reward them when they follow directions by acknowledging their good ‘behavior’, letting them go first in line for an activity, getting the opportunity to choose an activity and even letting their parent know when they do a good job in front of the child. Players at the U-8 level require concrete reinforcement and positivity as they become more self-aware.

If you are running out of ideas for activities, the Coaching manuals are a great resource and have a variety of activities and training plans. If you do not have a Coaching manual, contact your Regional Commissioner or Coach Administrator to obtain one.


“I have a player who is very talented; however, they tend to ignore their teammates and hog the ball. Now What?”

Answer Coaching this type of player requires proper balance. Oftentimes this will be one of the more talented players on the team, and as a coach you don’t want to discourage players from being aggressive offensively. However, it is also important to stay true to Player Development and to playing ‘the right way,’ which means teaching players ball movement and that winning at all costs is not the goal. “Ball hogs” often value winning too highly. Talk to players in a positive manner and calmly explain how you would like them to change their approach. Ultimately, “ball hogs” are hurting their own development as well as their teammates’. Soccer is a game of ball movement and player movement, and emphasizing this to all players is key.


“I have a U-10 player who is disinterested in practicing and playing. Now What?”

Answer The foundation for coaching all players, especially the younger age groups, is understanding the psychosocial aspects of your players.  There is a variety of reasons that players act this way. As with all situations it is important for a coach to have a positive approach when dealing with a player like this. A couple of psychosocial aspects to consider for U-10 (from our U-10 Coach Manual) is a player's fear of failure. At this age, players tend to get their feelings hurt easily, and even a small mistake can shut them down. It is important to assess the player and situation before acting. Engaging the player in a conversation and asking them simple questions to explore why they may be disinterested is the best way to gauge the player’s behavior and could explain why the player is disinterested. If the behavior persists, working with the player’s parent to find a solution is typically the best alternative.


 

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