1) I’ve never coached before. Am I really ready to coach a team?
Any parent can coach. [We also accept non-parents who want to coach.]
We all have to start somewhere. Most of the volunteer coaches had never coached soccer before. Many had never played soccer before. AYSO offers many training classes (see below) and materials to help coaches learn the soccer skills and drills for the kids. The most important coaching skills are:
- organization (simple communication, plan practices and game line-ups)
- motivation (ability to reach the kids at their level, create excitement)
- delegation (leverage other parents on the team – assistant coaches, team parent, etc.)
- teaching (want to watch kids improve as individuals and as a team)
Coaches at the U12 and above levels should have some prior coaching or soccer experience. But we have the training and field experience with younger teams to get you there. Our coach trainers and more senior coaches tend to be semi-professional coaches, former professional players or former college players still playing in local adult leagues. So there is a lot of experience that you can draw on as well.
2) What is the time commitment?
About 5-7 hours per week. (1-2 hours on two weekday afternoons or evenings. 2 hours on a Saturday morning and 1 hour of floating prep time.)
Most teams practice twice a week for 1-2 hours. As a coach, you sign up for field times for practice. You get to choose the days of the week and the times for the whole season. Before going off daylight savings time, most practices start between 4:00-6:00pm, as you can go until about 7:00pm before it gets dark. It probably takes about 30 minutes to prepare for a practice.
Games for U14 and under are always on Saturdays. U16 and U19 play on Sundays. For the younger kids, games last about one hour. Warm-ups usually begin 30 minutes before that. Pre-game prep takes about 30 minutes. Depending on the number of teams (even or odd), there may be some BYEs scheduled.
3) What are the benefits of coaching?
Coaching AYSO is very rewarding personally and as a parent. You can make a real contribution to each child on your team. AYSO has six great philosophies that it adheres to rigorously. They are: Everyone plays, Balanced Teams, Open Registration, Positive Coaching, Good Sportsmanship, and Player Development. This creates a healthy environment in which to coach a soccer team. The goal is to provide a safe, fun and fair structure for the kids to learn and enjoy soccer.
In addition to the quality time with your child, you will be amazed to watch the kids improve individually and as a team. They learn the value of hard work, teamwork, practice, and good sportsmanship. Without the pressure of more competitive soccer leagues to win, the coach and parents can create a positive experience for the players that will bring them back year after year.
Selfishly, you also get to control your child’s and your schedule a little more. You pick the practice times. You also can potentially negotiate with your opposing coaches to switch game times (within reason). For those of you with hectic schedules for you and you children, this can be a very useful benefit.
4) What about assistant coaching?
You can choose or recruit an assistant/co- coach. Otherwise, we will assign an assistant/co- coach to your team.
If you are concerned you are not ready to be a head coach, signing up as an assistant coach could provide a great mentoring opportunity.
As coaches, you will be the only people who get to ensure who your child plays with and for (at least for the children of the coaches). All other players on the team will be assigned with the emphasis on team balance and spreading the schools around.
Once the players have been assigned to teams, you can recruit any of those parents to assist as coaches at practices or games. In the past, this has been a great way to meet other parents, improve the coach-player ratio, and get a higher level of concentration from the kids whose parents are helping out. The region also appreciates this approach, because it brings out future potential coaches.
5) How old do I have to be?
We don’t have upper limits–we have some fairly “senior” coaches who are still out there working with the kids. We also encourage young coaches as long as they are over the age of 18, as under AYSO rules we cannot have minors supervising other minors (even with an adult present). AYSO does provide great opportunities and strongly encourages youth referees, so for those under 18, refereeing might provide a good alternative for youths to demonstrate leadership and put their soccer knowledge to good use (as well as to get some community service credit!).
6) What are the training dates?
All coaches must attend AYSO’s Safe Haven Certification course. Safe Haven certification is available online at www.aysotraining.org. Even though Safe Haven certification is good for life, the coach should consider taking the course again as a refresher every 2-3 years. Each coach must attend a Coach Training for the age division they plan on working.
If you have time, referee training clinics are also very useful (but not required) for a coach. It is an opportunity to get intimate with the Laws of the Game and the “spirit” of the sport. You will also build some understanding of the referee’s challenge, which leads to better AYSO game and team management. Check out the U8 and Basic Referee clinics on the referee page for more information.
7) What do I need to do now?
Sign up as a volunteer by checking the “head coach” or “asst coach” box next to your kids name in the registration form. Also, fill out the Volunteer Form. Indicate that you are interested in coaching or assistant coaching (and at what level, boys or girls). Make sure to include your email address as this is the preferred method of communication.
We are creating an email distribution list to coordinate communication to all coaches. We will let you know about the training classes within Region 43 and what may available in other neighboring regions.
Teams will be created in late July and will be released to coaches in early August. There will be a mandatory general coaches meeting in August for uniform pick-up, rule updates and other coordination.