Facing a team of expectant players ready for instruction can be daunting, but don’t panic. Here’s a quick primer:
Set up a parent meeting. This is fine over the phone or email. Email makes life easy as you can attach the practice and game schedules, team roster, confirm contact information, and other policy guidelines. Reiterate that proper gear (uniform, shinguards, ball) must be worn or their child will not play until properly attired. Advise parents to label a water bottle for their child.
Let parents know that you will be emailing a volunteer form for refreshments or have a sign up sheet at the first practice for snack. Make special note of any food allergies, epipens, medical conditions. No one wants to be that parent who brings bags of trail mix for a snack when one of the players is severely allergic to nuts, peanuts, or sesame. It’s best, and less expensive, to keep it to water or juice, and fruit.
Approach coaching authoritatively. This means be loud, let the players know that you are in charge. They will be looking to you for guidance. Get to know their names early. If you have to, stick their names on the back of their uniforms if there’s no name already.
Keep practices moving quickly, emphasizing small-sided games that develop touch and technique: foot skills, passing, control, defense and offense, and goal tending. Games will move quickly on their own, dependent on the age group you’re coaching.
Brush up on your own soccer skills so that you can reinforce good technique with your players. Don’t be tentative; encourage players to move, call out passes, working smart, not running hard. Praise often, treat players as equals, and change positions often.
Ignore unsolicited shouts from excited or overzealous parents; keep focused on the game, emphasizing respectful play and good sportsmanship. Keep it fun, enjoy yourself, and remember that you volunteered for the kids.