18 Things Every Youth Coach Understands
Your reasons for coaching youth soccer – for sacrificing your weekends, dealing with the headaches of communication, putting up with wall-to-wall nonsense – are selfless. You love the game. You enjoy working with kids and know that soccer is one of the most powerful ways to teach life's lessons. Generally, the rewards far outweigh any of the accompanying pains.
But, good grief, the struggle is real. You'd really like to skip the hassles of managing a team or running a club, but time and again you run into the same problems afflicting your companions around the globe.
Here are 18 things that everyone involved in youth soccer – from coaches to managers, administrators to volunteers – could do without.
The game is in 24 hours and you still have no idea who’s going to show up. You’ve sent an email, group text and done pretty much everything in your power besides organizing a search party for players and parents who have gone dark. It’s the same as it ever was: either you’re going to have a surplus of players or the substitutes' bench will be empty. If only you had a crystal ball. Or a magic app on your phone to tell you who can make the game.
Google Maps doesn’t recognize the address, the school’s website says the field lies west of the building's eastern doors and they’ve recently changed the field alignments to differ from the signage posted on the fence. You’re standing on what could be field #9, but it could also just be that #6 got turned upside down. Either you're the first to arrive or utterly lost.
It’s a s***storm outside and everyone is asking you whether or not the game is off. You’re dialing the league’s hotline every 15 minutes, which they could easily do too, but the automated voice message is telling you that all games will go ahead as scheduled. The overwhelming feeling is that everybody wants this game to get canceled, and it’s your fault that it's not happening.
You don’t want to do this, but collecting team fees will probably become all-consuming. It wouldn't be so bad if you only had to ask once, but not only will you have to ask twice, you might even have to ask three, four or five times before you get the necessary fees together. The unaccountable anxiety you’ll feel for others' unaccountability is a real joy!
You're spending 10 hours a week drafting, sending, re-sending and replying to emails, but it all just seems to amount to one giant miscommunication. And that's if anyone's bothering to open them in the first place. And that group text that's disrupting everyone's day? Let's just not talk about that.
Using the telephone to communicate has grown pretty unfashionable, but here you are, making 20-30 phone calls almost every week to people you hardly know with the knowledge that they’re purposefully avoiding your call. Congratulations, you're a telemarketer.
Practice after work, weekend-long tournaments, early mornings and late evenings — this is the life of anyone involved in youth soccer. You do it for the love of the game and the kids, but sometimes, it feels like your work-work balance is getting out of hand. When it's centered around playing and coaching, that's great, but the administration side of it is graying your hair faster than a president in the White House.
Little Johnny and Suzy are the second coming of Lionel Messi and Carli Lloyd, or so parents would have you believe. In fact, you’ve got quite a few of them on your team. It’s a wonder you’re not defeating every opponent 1,000-0. Parents bombard you with requests and demands while Johnny and Suzy spend every practice complaining about how they’d rather be anywhere else.
You should be playing a 4-2-3-1. Who’s the trequartista on the pitch? Have you watched the dynamic gegenpressing of Liverpool, and why aren’t we doing that? Some armchair quarterbacks are out to revolutionize the game at the U-13 level.
Some players are just cut from a different cloth, and that cloth is stubborn and unmanageable. Whether they play the devil’s advocate to your every instruction or simply play by their own rules, you are left shaking your head in disbelief.
The referee has no badge of any kind velcroed to his or her breast pocket and has whistled for infringements like “Five-second closely guarded violation” and “Blocking in the back.” One of the assistant referees appears to have forgotten their flag and is communicating calls like a cyclist. In short, this is refereeing at its finest.
One parent clearly doesn’t understand the offside rule and is hellbent on finding the other team guilty of a foul throw, another is screaming about how the ref has to call it both ways and everyone is certain that that was just a handball — "Unbelievable!"
The field you’re playing on would be better classified as a lesson in the Earth’s different climate zones. One portion is mountainous, rugged and rocky with varying degrees of slope. Another portion is a desert, arid and dry with a mixture of dirt and sand. Finally, there’s a patch of grassland near one corner flag with a tuft of growth that rises above the ankles.
You’re not in it for the money because there really isn’t any. Rather than looking forward to pay day, it just happens...sort of like Grandma sending a check in a Christmas card in November. But at least you have a predictable schedule decide your own hours get paid at all!
There are only so many number sevens and tens to go around (just two in fact) and this is going to cause an issue that you really thought teenagers had grown beyond. You were wrong.
Soccer.com has got absolutely nothing on your inventory of extra jerseys, shin guards, cones, pop-up goals, training bibs, speed ladders, balls and agility poles. What’s more, the pungent odor they combine to create makes everyone avoid your car like the plague.
A last minute update is the worst form of retribution known to club soccer. How can you possibly, reliably get this information to everyone? You can't. Game over, man! Game over!
Has the pre-practice stretching come to resemble a herd of walruses on the beach? Threaten to take away the World Cup drill. Fitness drills turning into social hour? Threaten to take away the World Cup drill. You have the ultimate trump card.
In the end, all this pain is always worth it. That's why you come back year after year, and you know what? It can be easier. TeamSnap takes the headache out of team and club logistics for over 15 million coaches, managers, players and parents. In fact, TeamSnap can save you up to 15 hours per week during the season. Get started for free with TeamSnap and get your life back.