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Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club

Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club

Coaching Principles & Guidelines

General Youth Coaching Principles

 Thank you for undertaking the important role of being a volunteer coach.  Coaching is an extremely important responsibility.  A good coach always places the best interest of the player and the team before winning.  By volunteering you have placed yourself in a position of leadership and the players and the parents are counting on you.  As such, you have a responsibility to give them your best effort at all times (on and off the field of play).  This athletic experience will play a significant factor in determining whether the players continue participating in sports in the future.  You are tasked with helping young players fall in love with the game and ultimately, as they mature and grow, look to give something back to the game.  The hope is that we provide a fun, energetic and challenging environment where players walk away with more confidence, a sense of belonging, improved athletic abilities, and also as better young people. If you follow the list of coaching principles, the player and their parents will be better served. 

Coaching Guidelines

1.     The safety and welfare of the players can never be compromised.  A coach will consider these factors above all others.

2.     A coach should be enthusiastic without being intimidating.  He/she should be sensitive to the player’s feelings and genuinely enjoy spending time with them.  He/she should be dedicated to serving children and understand sports provide physical and emotional growth for its participants.

3.     A coach needs to realize he/she is a teacher, not a drill sergeant.  He/she should help children learn and work to improve their skills.  Personal gains are never a consideration.  The job does not depend on winning.  The best interest of the player transforms into the best interest of the game.

4.     A coach needs a tremendous amount of patience.  Players should be allowed to learn from their own mistakes.  Children have many daily pressures and the athletic experience should not be one of them. Playing sports is supposed to be fun.

5.     An effective coach meets a player where they’re at ability-wise, and then encourages the player to push themselves beyond these limits.  Specific age appropriate guidelines are laid out in the Player Development Philosophy (PDP)

6.     A coach should care more about the players as people, not just as athletes.

7.     A coach should encourage his/her players to dream and set lofty goals.  It is important to remain positive and refrain from making discouraging remarks.  Negative comments are remembered far more often than positive affirmations.

8.     A coach needs to remember the rules of the game are designed to protect the players, as well as to set a standard of competition.  He/she should not circumvent or take advantage of the rules by teaching deliberate misconduct. A coach who puts his/her opponent’s team at risk should not be involved with children.

9.     A coach should be the first person to demonstrate good sportsmanship.  He/she should take a low profile during the game and allow the kids to be the center of attention.

10.  Parents and players place a lot of trust and confidence in the coach.  The coach has an important role in molding the athletic experience of the child. 

11.  A coach should aim for a 50/50 win/loss record when flighting their team.  A coach can measure success by the respect he/she gets from his or her players, regardless of victories or defeat.  Children who mature socially and physically while participating in sports are the best indication of good coaching. 

12.  While coaching, a good moment is worth stopping the session for in order to teach the players the focused-on topic for that day.  Point out what your players are doing right.

13.  Volunteer coaches and professional trainers need to align their thoughts ahead of the start of the season and continue to communicate with one another over the course of the season.  A continued discussion about seasonal goals, weekly lesson plans and the games played on Sunday is needed to ensure continuity.  This is a two way street and both parties need to make an effort to establish a healthy working relationship.

14.  The head coach is responsible for the actual coaching during games.  When multiple coaches start directing the players on the field, the players get confused. 

15.  A coach should discuss with parents his/her coaching philosophy and ask them to support the team by refraining from instructing their children during games and practices.  Cheers and encouragement are always welcome. 


If you have any questions regarding coaching guidelines, or to request to be put in contact with a mentor coach, contact the Head of the Coaching Committee.  If you have questions regarding our pro-trainers, or to reserve field space, contact the Head of the Training Committee.  If you need help creating a training session for your parent-led practices, please contact the Director of Coaching.

Coaching Your Own Child

Coaching your own child presents one of the most delicate challenges.  If you are coaching a team on which your child plays, beware of two potential problems:

1.      Because he/she is your child you may go overboard in giving them all the benefits.  You certainly don’t want to neglect your own child, but without you being aware of it they may receive more privileges than the other members of the team.

2.      On the other hand, in order to avoid favoring your child you may end up giving them less attention than the other players on the team.

To avoid these problems it is important you have others observe your coaching style, being particularly sensitive to the treatment of each individual athlete.  It is also important to talk to your child in advance to let them know your dilemma.  You may even ask them for suggestions, because they may have a better understanding than you realize. 

Once you have discovered the rewards of coaching, take it upon yourself to further your knowledge.  Read a book on the coaching principles of young athletes or enroll in a coaching course when offered.  Just as your child will enjoy their sport more as they gain skills, you will also enjoy coaching more as you gain knowledge and experience.

Coaching your child can be a uniquely special experience as long as there is mutual respect and an openness to discussion on any issues that arise. 

Additional Coaching Tips

•   Take time to introduce yourself to the parents on the first day and set team rules so everybody hears them and knows what to expect.

•   Make time to connect with each player during your scheduled practice time

•   Keep an eye on emails.  Important information is communicated regularly through emails such as practice schedule changes, weather, field updates, etc.  Ensure you pass on the information to your team as soon as possible. 

•   Use mistakes as positive opportunities to learn rather than negative outcomes to dwell on. 

•   Encourage parents to attend practices and games

•   Make sure you are creating a fun and pleasant atmosphere for your players during practices and games

•   Play ALL of your players.  Players should expect to play at least half the game. 

•   Players should be placed in a variety of positions to increase their understanding of the game.

•   BHYSC encourages a possession based game, rather than a kick and run approach.  The value of movement off of the ball should be highlighted. 

•   Motivate your players to work toward achievable goals.  Each player has unique abilities and it is the coaches job to uncover and nurture these strengths.

•   Rotate starting and substitute players throughout the season.

•   Successes are more important than mistakes.  Make sure to highlight good moments at both practices and on game day to the group and congratulate players.

•   Ensure communication lines are open at all times between yourself and the professional trainers.  Set goals, understand what is being learned and explain what see during game day (good and bad).

•   Multiple voices from the sidelines confuse players.  Limit who is coaching the kids during games.

•   HAVE FUN!  Always remember that you are doing this for fun and to help players grow.  Be a “nice” coach who your players will remember fondly.

Coach/Parent Relationship

The success of your team involves everyone’s participation.  The key to keeping parents involved and happy is communication.  Encourage parents to talk to you and ask questions and give input.  Inform them of the BHYSC philosophy that there is a long term advantage to developing individual skills of younger, rather than an over reliance on tactics.  Parents should be reminded that a short term focus on wins at the younger ages is counterproductive to longer term player skill development.  Please see the PDP for more details on this.

If a parent offers their services or help, let them be part of the experience.  They can offer help in many ways such as: refreshments, organizing socials or after game lunches.  We encourage coaches to meet with their team parents early; explain to them what you hope to accomplish and reassure them it is your wish that their child has an enjoyable experience.  Call parents if you need help and have not heard from anyone.  More often than not, people want to help, but think if they do not know the sport then there is nothing they can do.  Thank parents publicly (ie after a game, at a team party, etc.)

Dealing with disruptive parents is a dilemma.  Depending on the circumstances, feel free to ask the club representatives for advice and support.

During your meeting with the team parents tell them the following:

•   “Positive encouragement is good, negative comments are bad.”

•   “Cheering is good, but do not yell at your child or anyone else’s child during the game.  It can be distracting and what you tell them may be different from what the coaches are saying.  If you would like to be an assistant coach, please call me, I would love your help.”

•   “Be careful not to say anything that might be taken the wrong way or hurt someone’s feelings.  Remember: this is for fun and these are children.”

•   “Be a good role model and a good sport.”

•   “Do not yell at the referees or say anything bad to or about the other team.  Never ‘boo’ the other team or cheer when they make a mistake.”

Good Sportsmanship

What is good sportsmanship?

Good sportsmanship occurs when teammates, opponents, coaches and officials treat each other with respect. Kids learn the basics of sportsmanship from the adults in their lives, especially parents and coaches. Kids who see adults behaving in a sportsmanlike way gradually come to understand the real winners in sports are those who know how to persevere and behave with dignity — whether they win or lose a game.

Parents and coaches can help kids understand good sportsmanship through small gestures and heroic efforts. It starts with something as simple as shaking hands with opponents before/after a game and includes acknowledging good plays made by others and accepting bad calls gracefully. Displaying good sportsmanship is not always easy; it can be tough to congratulate the opposing team after losing a close or important game, but the kids who learn how to do it will benefit in many ways.

A child who practices good sportsmanship is likely to carry the respect and appreciation of other people into every other aspect of life.

Some suggestions for building sportsmanship on your team:

·       If you are your child’s coach, don’t expect more from them than the other children on your team. Don’t be harder on him/her than anyone else on the team, but don’t play favorites either.

·       Keep your comments positive. Don’t bad mouth other coaches, players or game officials. If you have a serious concern about a parents’ behavior, discuss it privately with the child’s parent or utilize the club’s board — we are here to help!

·       When you’re talking to your team after a competition, it is important not to dwell on who won or lost; instead ask your team how they felt during the game. If a child mentions he or she didn’t do well at a particular skill, offer to work on these skills with the child before the next game.

·       Applaud good plays no matter who makes them.

·       Set a good example with your courteous behavior toward the parents of kids on the other team. Congratulate them when their kids win.

·       Remember it’s the child, not you, who is playing.

·       Keep your perspective, it’s just a game. Even if your team loses every game of the season, it is unlikely to ruin the child’s life or chances of success.


Coachs Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct

1.     I will place the emotional and physical well-being of my players ahead of any personal desire to win and remember the game is for the youth, not adults.

Expected Behavior:

a.     Allow and encourage players to listen, learn and play hard within the rules.

b.     Fulfill the expected role of a youth coach to adopt a “children first” philosophy.

c.      Place emphasis on fun, participation and team.

2.     I will remember to treat each player as an individual, remembering the large spread of emotional and physical development for children of the same age.

Expected Behavior:

a.     Recognize the differences of each child and treating each player as an individual while demonstrating concern for their individual needs and well-being.

b.     Encourage all players, regardless of skill level.

c.      Recognize some physical tasks, drills and demands are not appropriate for all youth.

3.     I will do my best to provide a safe playing situation for my players.

Expected Behavior:

a.     Maintain a high level of awareness of potentially unsafe conditions.

b.     Correct or avoid unsafe practice or playing conditions.

c.      Use appropriate safety equipment necessary to protect all players.

d.     Report unsafe conditions to Recreation and Parks staff.

4.     I will do my best to organize practices that are fun and challenging for all my players.

Expected Behavior:

a.     Establish practice plans that are interesting, varied, and productive which are aimed at improving all players’ skills and individual abilities.

b.     Devote appropriate time to the improvement of each individual player.

c.      Conduct practices of reasonable length and intensity appropriate for the age and conditioning of the players.

5.     I will lead, by example, in demonstrating fair play and sportsmanship by supporting all players and officials.

Expected Behavior:

a.     Abide by and support the rules of the game as well as the spirit of the rules.

b.     Provide an environment conducive to fair and equitable competition.

c.      Use the influential position of a youth coach as an opportunity to promote, teach and expect sportsmanship and fair play.

d.     Use appropriate language at all times. At no time is profanity acceptable.

6.     I will use appropriate coaching techniques for each of the skills I teach.

Expected Behavior:

a.      Study and learn the rules of the game for the appropriate age group.

b.     Review all coaching material provided to coaches.

c.      Attend all coaches’ meetings/clinics

7.     I will not use alcohol and tobacco products during league sponsored events.

Expected Behavior:

a.     Be alcohol and drug free during all league sponsored events.

b.     Refrain from the use of any type of tobacco products at all team activities or in the presence of players.

c.      Encourage parents to refrain from the public use of tobacco products or alcohol during team activities.

8.     I will remember that children play, referees call, fans cheer and coaches TEACH.

 Expected Behavior:

a.     Exercise your authority/influence to control behavior of fans and spectators.

b.     Treat parents and coaches of other teams with respect.

c.      Treat officials and league administrators with respect.

9.     As the coach, I will respect and support the decisions of the contest officials.

Expected Behavior:

a.     I will back and support the decisions of league officials and assist in enforcing all league rules.

b.     If I have concerns or questions, I will direct them to the league administrator at an appropriate time. I will not criticize another coach, game or league official.

c.      I will cooperate and offer assistance whenever I can.

10.   I am aware I have a tremendous influence on my players and I will not place the value of winning above the value of instilling the highest ideals of character.


Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club
P.O. Box 86  Berkeley Heights New Jersey 07922

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