I would like to coach a team. What should I do?
Your first move should be to contact the Boys or Girls Commissioner to find out if there is already an existing team in a particular age/gender division, and whether there is are openings for a coach or assistant coach.
I’m interested in being involved, but I don’t feel ready or experienced enough to coach.
There are many ways to help out a team. Younger teams in particular can really use an extra assistant coach for crowd control, wiping noses, and tying shoes. Every team could use a team manager or managers who can take some of the administrative burden off the coach. It can be helpful to have a team treasurer as well. Finally, you probably know more than you realize. And you will learn more on the job! EPYSA holds coach training courses throughout the year which are incredibly useful and informative. Eric Wagner, Swarthmore College Men’s Coach, sometimes offers less formal coaching clinics for us during the summer.
I would like to coach a team, but I know that I will be unable to attend all the practices and/or games.
It is desirable if the head coach can be present at all the games. Missing some practices and games is not a problem as long as you have a solid group of assistant coaches. If you think that you will have frequent conflicts, you might need to rethink your suitability for coaching. Again, there are many ways to help out a team.
I’ve committed to coaching a new team. What now?
We highly recommend recruiting a team manager and a couple assistant coaches so that you can focus on your team. Contact coaches of existing teams and learn from their mistakes!
What does a team manager do?
The team manager takes care of administrative matters so that the coach can concentrate on the kids. The manager might be in charge of the following: coordinating email communication with families; managing the TeamSnap account for keeping track of attendance and communication; handling any pre-game payments and paperwork, including player cards; emailing opposing coaches to confirm game details each week; reserving fields for special practices; if necessary organizing snacks or transportation.
What do assistant coaches do?
Usually the coaching staff works as a team with the head coach in designing and running practices. Assistant coaches can also perform some of the duties of the team manager. On game days, it is helpful for individuals to have specific responsibilities; for instance, one coach might be in charge of running warm-ups while another checks in with referees and handles rosters. During the game, coaches will need to manage substitutions. The coaching staff should work together to determine responsibilities.
How do I find players for a new U9 team?
It is not the responsibility of the coach to recruit players, since players will register with SRA. That said, a new coach is often is instrumental in drumming up interest among the kids and parents in his/her child’s age group.
Who decides which players are on a team?
It is the coaching staff’s responsibility to determine the roster of each team in conjunction with the Commissioner. Tryouts may assist in the process by offering an evaluation of players’ skill levels. SRA encourages coaches across teams to work together to balance roster sizes and to form new teams when numbers will allow, so that as many players as possible may participate.
How long is the commitment?
We ask that you commit to working with a team from the time of tryouts (April) until the end of the travel soccer season (early November). You will need to be able to run once or twice weekly practices over the Summer until the end of the season as well as coach weekly games from September through early November. Some coaches offer other sessions, including helping to arrange clinics, indoor scrimmages or training during the winter, pickup soccer during the summer, and/or spring training or league play. These depend upon the interest of the team and the willingness of the coach.
What can I do to improve my coaching skills?
EPYSA offers coach training for 4v4, 7v7, 9v9, and 11v11. Taking at least one of the early courses is highly recommended. SRA also attempts to provide various educational opportunities. In prior years, we have offered coaching clinics with Coach Eric Wagner of Swarthmore College Soccer as well as an information session on concussions. Keep an eye out for mailings about clinics and other opportunities. It helps to love what you teach. You can foster your own interest in soccer by playing in SRA adult programs (available for Men, Women or Co-Ed), or by catching a Union game with the Sons Of Benjamin West (SOBWs).
Please also see the Resources section of our website for ideas for practices and information about licensing and coaching.
Should I be entering my team in a tournament?
The answer to this varies on the age of your team and the interest of the participants. Teams will pay their own registration fees. Please note that US Soccer recommends that children U10 and below should participate in a limited number of jamborees or festivals where results aren’t compiled and players U12 and below should participate in round-robin tournaments (consult the Best Practices document in the “Resources” section for further information). It is the responsibility of team managers and coaching staff to determine which tournaments a team will play in and to register for a tournament.
Late-summer tournaments (e.g. the Ridley tournament in August) can be good as a practice run for the start of the season. It can be fun to end a season with a tournament, e.g. the Hempfield tournament in November. There are no regular fall season games scheduled for Columbus Day weekend, so that is a popular time for tournaments as well.
Where do I get equipment?
SRA will provide your team with game balls, a pump and needles, cones, pinnies, and a first-aid kit. If you need other items, please check with the SRA Director for reimbursement.
Should I hire a trainer?
Experienced trainers typically cost money, so this depends on the needs of the volunteer coaches and the interest of the team. For younger teams, you may feel you do not need a trainer because they are working on simpler skills. As a team grows older, however, it may be valuable to have a trainer who can demonstrate and teach more complicated skills and tactics. A team that cannot field a full coaching staff, as well, may consider hiring a trainer to provide consistency and coverage.
Several SRA teams have used area trainers. More information about these resources can be obtained from SRA and other SRA coaches. It is a team’s responsibility to arrange and pay for training. It is also very important to communicate your intentions to hire trainers to your player’s parents beforehand!
Do I get paid?
You will be richly rewarded by the smiles of happy children.