You’ve confirmed the fixture, the players and parents know where and when they need to be there…. And you’ve not forgotten the match ball, the first aid kit etc etc.
It’s game on.
Make sure you run a proper warm up (and cool down after the game if possible). This takes the kids away from parents and allows them to focus on the match as well as being good practice for when they get older and muscle problems start to develop.
Our Club Coach has plenty of warm up routines that you can use.
Parents… get their help!
Try to get as many parents as possible to help out in any way. It should be the job of the parents to put the goals up and take them down, put the Respect barrier up, be referee or assistant referee, if required, and take the role of match day delegate.
If mini-soccer goals need to be erected, get the parents to do it. Send your parents this link to Ian Sayle’s YouTube video: How to build a Samba goal.
It is a league rule that you have a “match day delegate” for all games. This should be the same person each week, and someone who has attended the Raiders MDD briefing session. This person is responsible for welcoming (and paying) the referee, meeting the opposition, checking league registration cards and dealing with any issues the referee may have (for example parents berating the referee).
The Club supports the FA guidelines on keeping spectators away from the sidelines.
USE A RESPECT BARRIER – the Club has plenty of these available. Ask all parents to stand behind this. Place the barrier at least 3 yards from the touchline. It will give the players more space. All parents should be on one side of the pitch behind the barrier; managers and coaches of both teams should operate from the opposite side of the pitch. THESE GUIDELINES MUST BE APPLIED AT ALL GAMES.
It is Herts FA policy that there must be a first aider provided for all home games. (You need to ensure that a parent or two has first aid training to cover for an absent manager.)
The club provides you with water bottles and a carrier. The kids will often come with their own drinks etc., and may go to their parents at half time. The natural tendency for parents is to “coach” their child at half time regardless of whether they have any idea of what you want their child to do. This may not be helpful. By having your own water supply it is easy to take it onto the pitch at half time, away from the touchline and then to give your half time talk without interference. The children can go to their parent initially to get their drink but then come back to you for the half time talk.
Try not to issue too many instructions. Get the team involved. Ask them what’s working and what isn’t. Focus on the POSITIVES, even if you’re 5-0 down.
As children get older, it’s important that they should warm down with a brief jog after the game. It’s also a good time to talk to them about the performance out of earshot of the parents.
The Manager’s review
How you do the post match ”review” is up to you. Some managers run a player “de-brief” away from the parents and then make awards with the parents in attendance. Others are happy to give their players feedback in front of parents.
After the match, talk up the positives, even if you lost 10-0. Try to name at least five players in your “match review”, and highlight things that they did well, or areas where they have improved since the previous game.
Focus on the positives not the negatives!
Player of the Match Awards
Some managers like to award a “Player of the Match” at each game – but ensure the award is spread around the team each week, regardless of who actually was the best player! This often matters more to the children than the result so can be used to reward children who worked well in training or did what they were asked to do in a game. Some teams vary their awards. e.g. give a “Tackling Trophy” to the child who put in most tackles.
Avoid giving trophies to goal scorers. This encourages selfishness and the attitude that the goal scorer is more important than someone who made the scoring pass or saved a goal at the other end. There are normally trophies left over at the end of the presentation evening that can be used as “Player of the Match” trophies the following year.
You may want to allow the parents to award the trophies each game, possibly the parent of last week’s winner, but make sure you discuss with them who they intend to give it to beforehand.