Now let’s get to the fun stuff – playing soccer! Here are some guidelines to help you have a successful season with your team.
Communicating with your team
It is important that you maintain open lines of communication with your parents. In addition to setting expectations with parents before the season, it is important to keep the team updated as the season progresses. I quick weekly note can do the trick to remind folks of game times, locations, half-time snack duty, etc.
Regular weekly emails work, but you might consider creating a simple team website using Shutterfly or some other online platform. A team website is a great way to centralize all information about the team and the season.
In addition to developing soccer skills, building camaraderie and teamwork is a key focus at the Kindergarten and Grade 1/2 levels. This can happen on and off the field. Consider scheduling a fun team event – pizza party, ice cream, etc. – to celebrate the end of the season. Ask the parents to help you organize it!
Training your team
In general, the most effective coaching happens at practices. This is the time to build fundamental skills, work on simple tactics and game concepts, and to have some fun. Kindergarten and Grade 1/2 teams practice 1x per week for between 60-75 minutes.
While you are responsible for designing and running your practices during the season, the Board has engaged BEST Soccer to lead training for 4 weeks at the beginning of the season. These sessions are aimed to provide you with more training exercises that you can include during your own practices.
You can find ideas for training sessions/games on our Coach Resources page.
Managing “Game Day”
“Game Day” starts early for you, as coaches must set-up the fields before players arrive. Plan to get to the fields at least 30 minutes before game time to ensure you have ample time to (1) set-up and walk the fields and (2) warm-up your team. It is important that you establish with your team a consistent pre-game routine (dynamic warm-up, etc.) so we recommend asking parents to arrive at least 20 minutes early. Click here [link] for a sample warm-up session.
Be sure to bring to the field cones and extra balls, and make sure you have a few ice packs in your bag.
Kindergarten Game Day details:
Grade 1/2 Game Day details:
When games are over, make sure all of your players have their ball/water bottle and are with a parent before you leave the field.
Coaching during the game
You may have heard the expression “the game is the best coach”. For the most part, this is true and you will hear this often as you move up age groups. Of course, we do not expect you to sit in absolute silence on the sidelines. At the youngest age groups, coaches must provide guidance during games to help players apply the concepts they learn during training.
Some guidelines for you to consider during the game:
- Balance your teams. When you split into two teams, try to balance the skill level so we avoid lopsided games. If the game gets lopsided, coaches should discuss ways to make the game more competitive.
- Ensure as best possible equal playing time for all players. Keep an eye on your watch and make substitutions every 2 minutes or so.
- Rotate players through different positions. At Kindergarten, form a triangle (1 forward and 2 backs) and rotate players. At Grade 1/2, form a diamond (1 forward, 2 mids, 1 back) and rotate players.
- Provide simple guidance while the game is going (i.e., Boys, are you in your triangle?) rather than directing their actions (i.e., kick the ball!!!) Provide coaching when the players are on the sideline (i.e., Lily, I loved how close you kept the ball to your feet! Next time, can you try to do it while looking up at the goal?)
- Stay positive and celebrate having fun!
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many goals are scored or which team scored the most. Some kids will count goals or ask so do your best to focus on other aspects of the game (i.e., what a great pull-back!)