We are in the middle of an exciting revolution in youth soccer. Thankfully, we are progressing from a Wild West environment where each coach operates independently, to having a more Club-Centric approach to our youth soccer development. Many clubs are developing guidelines, policies and programming around player development, coach education, parent engagement and more.
This is progress.
As parents, our expectations for coaches and clubs is rising.
This rise is tremendous progress.
U.S. Soccer is starting to take more of a leadership role in these areas – establishing Club Standards, revamping coaching education, mandating playing environments and rules (Small Sided Standards, Build-Out Line) which are more conducive to development.
Again, more progress!
Of course there have been some grumblings along the way. Change is hard. To embrace the changes that are happening in youth soccer it’s essential that we feel a connection with and trust our U.S. Soccer leadership. Slowly, this is happening.
I’m feeling optimistic. Progress continues. There is a promising feeling of expectation permeating the youth soccer landscape.
The exciting end result: Regardless of their athletic potential or level of play, more young players thriving.
Of course, there is much to be done – but for now, I will enjoy the feeling of progress.
I am hearing fantastic feedback from the instructors and candidates at U.S. Soccer’s newly revamped courses about the connection to the candidates and the quality of the instruction and learning that is taking place.
And the conversation I recently had with Frank Tschan, U.S. Soccer’s Director of Coaching Administration is a perfect example of the progress that is being made. In this clip of the conversation, Frank discusses the importance of clubs and coaches informing, engaging and supporting parents. Enjoy!
As a coach, I hope that I am connected to something bigger than me. I hope I am connected to a club, or an organization, or a member of U.S. Soccer and I hope I have guidance through that as to what the Code of Conduct is, what are the Cardinal Rules?
What are the basic expectations within the organization I am a part of in terms of effectively engaging parents? Because the more parents can get to know me and the more I can get to know them – individually, the more effectively we can meet the goals of hopefully the organization and the needs of the player.
And when I have that and when I have that idea of here is what we do in our organization, or here is what we don’t do, here are our behavioral expectations – then all of us are working towards something bigger. And we have to get to that point of not making it about me, but making it about something bibgger thatn me. Something that is higher. That is a picture that is something all of us are striving to achieve. As a Federation we have a responsibility to try and paint that picture, but so do all of our different member organizations.
So now, when I work with the parent, we’re looking at something that is detached from us as something we are trying to achieve collectively. And the parent who registers their child for that organization should be made acutely aware that “this is the way we do things.” Now, hopefully all of those are aligned with the player being first, player centered development, and the enjoyment of the game. So we can take it away from who I am and who the parent is – and what it is we are trying to achieve for the child.
Now, that’s easier said than done, obviously.
The next piece is yes, certainly, having opportunities to build relationships with parents.
So, within that context one of the things I always did, and I hope all coaches do is really look to build individual relationships with all my parents. Not because it’s “easy” or only “fun,” sometimes it’s really challenging because there’s a parent there who looks at something completely differently than I do. And, their interest is their child, and my interest is their child, and how do we meet those things in the middle?
How do we actually create an understanding of:
- Here are some of the do’s and don’ts.
- Here’s what you can expect of me as a coach.
- Here is what I would like to expect of you as parents.
- And at the same time to do to that in a way that brings a synergetic relationship to the table.
If we want to engage parents we have to do three things:
We have to basically inform them and make them aware that the information is there.
And then we have to engage them, bring them in and make them a part of the process. This is their kid! This is the most important thing in all of our lives, is our child. And we are putting our child into an environment that we are being asked to remove ourselves from. Completely fair – as long as I understand that environment.
And I understand it because I am informed, I am engaged and hopefully I am supported.
So within this idea of how we can then bring parents further, we have to help them understand what it is we are doing as coaches.
- How do we actually look at the game of soccer?
- How do we actually look at players and their ability to meet the objectives of the game of soccer?
- How do we actually look at players as individuals that we want to bring further as people and kids?
And how can I then help my parents understand what I am trying to do?