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Tips for Game Time

Be Prepared

  • If you have cards and a roster put the cards in the same order as the roster. Referees love this as it saves time.
  • Have a good warm-up, and use it every time.
    • Your players need to learn the warm up and be able to do it without you
    • Get the players ready for "the demands of the game"
    • It takes a team about 8 minutes of game time to recover from a poor warm-up
  • Know who is going to be at the game
  • Have a written substitution plan. At the development level shared time is expected; you will be amazed at what players can do.
  • If it is a state cup game or tournament final, also prepare lineups for:
    • We need to score
    • We need to defend a lead
    • Who needs to be on the field if it goes to kicks (KFTM)? The players need to know before the game who will take the kicks if it comes to that, and they need to be given a chance to say they don't want to be one of the kickers.
  • If it is a home game you should have 3 good game balls with the right pressure to give to the referee.

Referees

  • Be polite and respectful.
  • NEVER yell at your referees (even if you want to so very badly).
  • Do NOT allow your players to be disrespectful nor to blame the referees.
  • Shake the hands of your referees after the game and thank them for being there… ALWAYS.

Like your players, referees only get better with practice, so don't scare them off when they are young. Remember, your players and parents are watching and will mimic your behavior. Set the right example.

Communication

  • Say hello to the other coach.
  • Avoid negative communication with players.
  • Do not be a puppet master. You aren't being paid by the word. Let the players make choices
  • Never yell at a player or "yell at the ball" (i.e. yelling at the player who has the ball and telling them what to do). Soccer is a dynamic game so the choice a player makes may be different than what you think you would have done, but it doesn't make their choice is wrong.
  • Stop negative communication between players when you hear it.
  • Encourage players to take chances and try new things.
  • Praise in public.
  • DO yell out to the field… "Hey Monica! That was a great pass! Simply awesome!" Everybody hears it and you will get the biggest smiles you have ever seen from players.
  • Take mental or actual notes of what you see during the game and use that information (if appropriate) when planning your next practice(s).
  • Correct 1v1 communicstions:

A common interaction you should be having on the sideline might goes something like this:

Coach: Do you remember when you did xyz?
Player: "Yes..."
Coach: "What did you see?"
Player: "xxx"
Coach: "What would have been another choice?" Ninety-nine percent of the time they tell you what you are looking for.
Coach: "Yes! What you did was fine, but next time try xxx instead."
Conversations like this pay huge dividends over time. The kids will listen and engage with you because you aren't yelling at them. They are coming up with the solution, which invests them in trying it next time.