Fun is the best way for a coach and player to get on the same page. When everyone is having fun playing the game of soccer then it all clicks, everyone learns and grows naturally.
Coaches need to understand that not all players are there because they love the game and want to learn. Every season there will be a group of kids who just want to socialize with friends, some that don't really care about soccer but their parents signed them up, and others who are just looking to escape poor conditions at home. The best way to instill confidence, discipline and building self esteem in your players is shift each players focus towards the common goal of having fun. This does not mean having fun talking or looking at air planes or chasing butterflies, it means having fun while playing the game of soccer.
One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to openly discuss your plan for having fun with the entire team. Make them aware of your strong commitment to fun and your expectations that they'll do the same. If you find a player having fun and it does not involve the game of soccer then it's OK to politely remind them to refocus on the game. Ask the parents for help by talking with their player, they're usually more than willing.
Another way to help players have fun is to explain some of the basic rules and your expectations. This is usually accomplished during your first meeting but should also be revisited at times through out the season. Here are some expectations you may want to consider sharing with your team:
Obey the rules of the game.
Be respectful of others.
Take a knee when someone is hurt.
No bullying or use of profanity.
Try your best at all times and
challenge yourself to do better
don't be afraid to make mistakes - that's what practice is all about
General Rules of the game:
No pushing or tripping
No use of the hands
No slide tackling in rec soccer
Don't talk to the referee - expect they will make mistakes
Players should ask / remind parents to be 5 minutes early to practice and 35 minutes early to games
Players should run (not walk) from the car to the field when they're late - show respect for the team
Players of all ages need to take responsibility (even partially) for making sure they don't leave home without the proper equipment (ball, shin guards, water bottle, cold weather gear, and a good attitude). Players should NEVER WEAR JEANS to practice.
DISCIPLINE: Positive reinforcement is constantly used to provide both motivation and reassurance to the players. But when you have a player who is not participating well, not listening or acting unruly by disobeying the rules, then you may have to develop a better understanding of their history. Try talking with the parents and be as understanding as possible. PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES! As long as the player is engaged, trying their best to have fun while playing the game of soccer, and not a safety hazard to themselves or others, then you're on the right track.
There may be times when you'll have a player standing on the field watching, not participating, crying, laying down, picking flowers, staring at the planes going by at 30,000 feet, or throwing a temper tantrums. You may also have players that won't obey the rules by repeatedly hitting, tripping, pushing, cussing or generally acting in an unsportsmanlike manner. Some players may have developmental issues or physical handicaps. Some are taking medications. Before taking action, be sure to find out more from the parent / guardian about the player's history.
No matter what the situation, when a player is a safety hazard to either themselves or others on the field then it is your job to take steps to make sure nobody gets hurt.
Suggestions: (1) Talk to the player in an encouraging way (never yell or intimidate) and nicely ask them to behave (2) Ask the parent for help and explain how you're concerned for their child's safety and don't want them to get hurt. (3) Ask the parents if they would like the player to sit with them on the sidelines or in a coaches time out box made of cones and set up next to where you've staged your gear (balls, cones, etc.). (4) Make sure the parents are staying to help with issues as they arise
Yes, it's OK to make a square box out of cones and ask the player to sit there for a couple minutes while they gather their composure. Sitting with parents is probably best. For the younger kids, you can ask the parent to sit with them. But only do this with the parents permission first. Remember, there may be some underlying reason for why the player is acting out so be sure to communicate with the parents in private.
Invite the player back onto the field for a retry. Usually after one or two trips to the side line the player will see how the rest of the team is having fun and want to make changes so they can have fun too. REMEMBER the key is to have fun while playing the game of soccer. As long as they're engaged and trying their best to have fun while playing the game of soccer then you're on the right track.
Once in a while you may have a player who will not respond to you or the parents. If you find yourself in this situation then contact your AGC and club Head Coach right away. They may have some additional ideas to share or may be able to talk with the parents of the player. The AGC or Head Coach may want to come to your practice and work with the player 1:1 and try to make improvements that way.
How to instill confidence, build self esteem and discipline your team.