Volunteer Parents are the lifeblood

Volunteer Parents are the lifeblood of every Youth Soccer Club or Association.  They make the organization work and determine the short- and long-term success of the youth soccer club.

My experience and understanding of youth soccer are that most organizations lose up to 50% of their volunteer base predominantly in the coaching ranks each year.  By stopping a revolving door of losing these coach volunteers the Club can enjoy coach and management experience with continuity. Clubs need to offer age and gender specific programs that fit the organizations culture to make volunteer coach experiences rewarding and enjoyable, so they will sign on for another year or even more and continue to volunteer.

In the recreational level so little is offered as support to the volunteer coaches.  One hour of training at the start of the season is never enough.  Volunteer coaches quickly get overwhelmed, frustrated and unrewarded.  Retention and proper support of recreational volunteer coaches will transform the experience and grass roots fun that players and coaches should associate with Soccer.

Volunteer coaches need to have all the tools at their disposal to create a safe soccer learning environment.  Very often coaches need a line by line curriculum in their hands so they can follow tasks in order of their group’s development stage.  Many coaches immediately feel the pressure of curriculum materials and feel overwhelmed.  They never get off square one.  These coaches need well curated curriculum that is easily implemented and is relevant to the age and ability of their squad of players. Volunteers have the best intentions but will often not be able to find the time to develop curriculum materials and practice plans that are meaningful to their players’ needs. 

New technology is now available where coaches and players can have age and gender specific 3D animated soccer curriculum in their hands via our MOTI App.  Learning ball skills during a practice is imperative.  Players can see their peer group doing ball manipulation and gain experience under the watchful eye of their coach.  Now players can also take initiative by practicing these moves and skill sets at home, allowing them to enjoy the health and physical gains in an athletic event using their own initiative, personal desires and disciplines.

Clubs should recognize the efforts of all their volunteers.  Everyone enjoys positive feedback on their hard work.  Recognizing coaches is imperative to maintaining the coaching ranks within the organization and improves the coach retention. 

Have parents write a note, send a card or text to the coach thanking them for their time and effort  during the season.  Make sure to mention the positive impact this season has had on their child and their family soccer experience.  Each note is rewarding but collectively they speak volumes.

Some clubs have an end of season awards banquet which should be focused on all the members who have contributed time and immense effort.  Getting an award as simple as a Certificate depicting the Success of the Season in front of all the other volunteers strengthens the culture and size of the Club.

Remember teams are very self-centered during a season being myopic with a single focus.  Congregating with all the other age groups and volunteers brings all members in connection with the community.  Making the coaches feel valued and integral to the Club’s success will generate loyalty and many more hours, weeks and years of volunteering.  Volunteer coaches seeing and mingling with other coaches who are getting recognized for multiple facets of coaching experience helps build the Club’s culture.  It also makes coaches return to do even more good work for the good of the kids and the game.