Dr. Dina Gentile on the field coaching her team
Preparing to Start the Fall Season
Dr. Dina Gentile helps youth soccer players and coaches across America prepare for the Fall Soccer Season.
The summer months can serve to energize the organizers of youth soccer associations who deserve the much-needed break. However, the next two weeks will be a busy time as club administrators and volunteers start to move nets, line fields, create team rosters, recruit coaches, and sort uniform jerseys. These opening weeks of the season are an opportunity to create strong links and create a positive club culture moving into a new season.
Club Administrators: Unite the Program at the Start of the Season!
- Communication is the key! The focus of soccer administrators, over the next weeks, is to share as much of the practice and game time details with parents. Utilizing the club website with current announcements and updates will save administrators time as they may be replying to the same email questions multiple times from many parents. A website can serve to be the communication hub for the club and save time for the administrator to manage other tasks.
- Preseason meetings are another tool to create a bond between club administrators and volunteer coaches. The meeting should touch upon key elements but the website can also serve to share the Xs and Os in regards to policies and procedures. The outcome of the meeting is to get all volunteers on the same page (understanding the mission of the club) and to energize them for the upcoming weeks of soccer. Many volunteer coaches have attended the same preseason meeting over a number of seasons/years, adding a guest speaker that can provide a refreshing perspective on coaching or practice plan development will invigorate the group. The volunteer coaches may hear the same concepts the club has been communicating but having a new voice may be the ingredient needed to truly resonate with the team of volunteers.
- Celebrate the opening of a new season with the families of the athletes. The club should create a buzz about the upcoming season perhaps announcing the number of players registered, the new uniforms for the travel team, or the start of a new program or initiative. When people sign their child up for soccer, they are also registering to be part of the soccer community. If we want to build a strong culture for our clubs, we need to engage our families early and often and get them excited about all of the existing programs.
Coaches: Your Excitement is Contagious!
- Parents and athletes are anxious to learn about practices, game times, and the team roster. Coaches can set the stage for the season by creating a positive and encouraging opening email to be sent to families. Coaches can share their expectations and their excitement about the start of the season in a few sentences.
- Practice plan preparation can never start too early. Coaches can spend time reviewing and analyzing age specific skill sets in order to effectively design practice plans for their team. Some practice ideas can be found here.
- Get to know your assistant coaches and share in the preparation for the start of the season. Head coaches can create camaraderie with their peers by sharing key details and allowing each coach to have a fixed role on the team.
Parents as the ultimate support system - Cheering Kids to Success!
- Parents are not only the best fans for their children; they are the comfort system needed during the start of any new activity. Whether your child has played soccer for multiple seasons or just starting out, parents need to listen to their concerns while also getting them motivated for the sport season. A new pair of socks or soccer ball can get your child back into the soccer schedule groove. Sometimes children need a little extra push after the long summer break to get back into the school and soccer routine. Sharing emails from the coach and reading the club website posts can assist getting your soccer player in a positive frame of mind.
- As we enter a new season of soccer, parents should also be reminded to be positive on the sidelines. Perhaps this season your child is playing in a new position or there is a new formation the coach is trying to utilize, no matter the on the field scenario all parents must be encouraging and positive as fans of the game.
Once the rosters are set and the fields are ready for use the greatest achievements will be created by our soccer kids. There is nothing better than seeing lines of parents in their portable chairs watching their favorite youth soccer player running around the field. Let’s celebrate all of the administrators and volunteers who spend countless hours creating wonder soccer experiences for all!
Let the games begin!
Related Article: Learning Valuable Lessons in Soccer from Other Sports, Preparation for Youth Soccer Tryouts and Dr. Dina Gentile's Column
SoccerNation News is proud to welcome Dr. Dina Gentile as one of our most popular contributing writers. Dr. Gentile is a Professor of Sport Management at Endicott College. A volunteer youth coach herself, Dr. Gentile understands from both practical and theoretical experience what happens on the soccer field.
Gentile has also coached the Endicott College Soccer Team for 11 years. Gentile is the owner/director of Precision Soccer, LLC, which operates camps, clinics, and coach education training throughout the year. Gentile has been in the role of Pre K and K soccer coordinator and player development director in Beverly, MA. She is a former All-American and Academic All-American at Adelphi University. Gentile has been inducted into the Adelphi University and Endicott College Halls of Fame. She is the proud coach of her daughter’s 2nd Grade team in the Wilmington Youth Soccer Association and son’s Pre K Team in the Reading United Soccer Association. Gentile is also a Soccer Ambassador for Korrio. Check out her practice plan ideas at Korrio.