While the bright image of jumping up and down while celebrating yet another fabulous victory with a happy bunch of soccer playing kids inspires many adults to coach soccer, actually being a volunteer coach can be an entirely different story. It takes a lot of hard work and sometimes things don’t go exactly how you planned them (did you envision that 7-0 drubbing when you signed up?). Here are 5 things that any prospective volunteer youth soccer coach needs to consider when joining up:
1. Are you good with kids? This is quite possibly the most important thing regarding youth soccer coaching. Some people in this world are good in handling children, and some people simply aren’t. Kids think differently than most adults. They have short attention spans, boundless energy, and can sometimes throw a major tantrum if not dealt with appropriately. Can you handle this?
2. Do you have the time? Coaching a soccer team is a pretty serious time commitment. Most teams will have 1 or 2 practices per week and then a game on Saturday. If you like to go out and hit the town on Friday nights, you may not be ready and alert during the 8AM soccer game on Saturday. Additionally, you need to consider your schedule. Will you have evenings free to hold soccer practice, and will you be able to make each game? If you are going to miss more than 1 or 2 games over the course of a season, you probably don’t have the right amount of time necessary to coach a team.
3. Do you know the game? This is a major problem in youth sports. Someone’s dad decides to coach the team, yet they’ve never kicked a soccer ball in their entire life. How do you think that’s going to pan out? You shouldn’t be coaching soccer unless you’ve played soccer, and ideally played on at least your high school soccer team. While the basic principles of the sport are quite simple, one’s ability to actually understand soccer and give out valuable tips and instruction is very important. The more you know about the game, the more helpful you’ll be as a coach.
4. Can you inspire the team? Sports are often about passion and drive. Are you a good motivator? A great soccer coach not only teaches his or her players all about the game, but they get them ready and excited for each match. During the game, you will need to be yelling encouragement and instructions from the sidelines. Not everyone is good at this, but it is something to consider before agreeing to be a coach.
5. Will you enjoy coaching? Obviously no one knows this until they actually begin coaching, but you need to assess your own wants and desires in the world. Don’t get into coaching unless you feel like it’s going to be a good time. Too many coaches get into it with the best intentions but then hate the entire experience once it gets going. You need to be patient with kids and grow slowly with them to foster a valuable coaching experience. And while being a volunteer soccer coach certainly isn’t for everyone, it may be perfect for you! Simply give the idea some serious thought before diving right in.