The vast majority of our membership provides glowing feedback about the selfless volunteers that step up to coach their child's team. The retention numbers for our most loyal coaches + families insistent on returning to their teams each season both speak for themselves. On the contrary, a small number of our families will occasionally express concern at the beginning of every season and occasionally request a roster change. We'd implore everyone in those situations to consider the following.
It's important for our families to realize that "Rome wasn't built in a day". Even the most advanced players in the world are constantly pushing themselves to master their craft. Likewise, volunteer coaches all have to start somewhere and can only improve with practice. The club's most cherished volunteer coaches would be the first to admit they are a WAY better coach than they were that first season (and not nearly as good as they'll be in several more seasons).
The majority of our teams are highly recreational and ALL are led entirely by volunteers. Since we rely on heroic parents to make soccer possible in the neighborhood, the beauty is that ANY parent can (and quite frankly, should) get involved to drive improvement. If parents have strong opinions as to what the coach can be doing better, the club would be ecstatic to have these folks register as coaches and "be the change you wish to see".
One could argue "that's why I pay the club - so I don't have to coach". The reality though is that we offer ~20 practices, ~10 games, a uniform kit, practice uniform, referees, field space (not to mention goals, paint, etc.), trophies, club events, US Soccer fees and supplemental insurance while maintaining literally the lowest fees in the North Austin, Round Rock, and Pflugerville.
As a 100% volunteer-driven organization, every penny we raise goes directly into the players. We try carry the lowest possible balance in a "rainy day" fund, but otherwise improve the experience for our families in whatever way we can. So in truth, the one thing you are absolutely NOT paying for is coaching - all fees collected are effectively just "keeping the lights on" so to speak.
This all makes sense, but you still may not have the bandwidth or credibility to step up and coach your child's team. We totally get that! So how can you help your child get the best possible coaching if you aren't the coach? Well, here are the top 6 ways you can make a direct impact on the quality of coaching your child receives:
1. Direct coach towards the breadth of resources we have posted on our website in the Coaches Portal, including practice ideas and links to leading websites for new soccer coaches.
2. Manage administrative tasks like creating the snack schedule, field lining responsibilities, team pictures, and keeping parents informed throughout the season via email. You can also rally all the parents every practice to help setup and teardown equipment. Anything that gives your coach more time to focus on the players will directly help the players.
3. Ask all the parents to chip in $2 to purchase an introductory book on coaching youth soccer, which will provide creative practices ideas and pointers for working with children.
4. Encourage the parents to consider replacing 1 practice each week (or perhaps just once a month) with the FREE professional training sessions at Avila Creative Soccer. The club makes a sizable investment each season on behalf of ALL our players. Observing these sessions is also a great learning experience for new volunteer coaches, who can take notes during the session and learn from paid coaches.
5. If there are soccer savvy parents that don't have the bandwidth to be the head coach, you could help coordinate a rotation system. We have countless teams in the club that use a "coaches cohort" to make things more manageable on the parents with soccer acumen (or even just a gift for working with kids). Hopefully coaching every 3rd or 4th practice and assisting with games on Saturday is more manageable than leading a team solo. We also have a ton of strong older players in the club that may be willing to lend a hand at practices (perhaps in exchange for an iTunes gift card or other modest allowance).
6. Encourage your coach to pursue their national "F License". WBSA will fully reimburse the $25 expense to coaches. After ~5 hours of training (offered entirely online), coaches gain access to a 6-10 week practice curriculum that would literally provide enough material to get them through an entire season.
These are just a few ideas. Engaged parents can undoubtedly put their heads together to think of several other ways to help their child's coach provide an exceptional experience for all our players. Again, just like brand new players are learning as they go and will improve throughout the season - our volunteer coaches are in the exact same boat.
We’d encourage all our families to be as supportive as possible considering this (potentially very overwhelmed parent) is doing the best they can. Remember that this brave soul stepped up to take on responsibilities (and countless hours of volunteer work) that nobody else was willing to own.
Please also keep in mind that paying for professional instruction in an advanced (non-recreational) environment is not cheap. It's literally as much 10x the cost of recreational models like the one we offer in WBSA. You can learn more about those expenses by reading our previous blog post on Soccer Economics for the North Austin, Round Rock, and Pflugerville areas.
And finally, let's not lose sight of the fact that soccer is a game. The club's primary mission is to make sure young players are having fun, learning new skills, developing friendships, and growing as young leaders in our community. Hopefully we've given you a few actionable ideas to support your respective coaches in pursuit of these goals.