How To Earn Respect From Your Players
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How To Earn Respect From Your Players

Earning and keeping the respect of your players is paramount to your success as a soccer coach. Any parent of a teenager or preteen can tell you about the challenges that parenting brings, and when you’re on the pitch coaching, those challenges certainly manifest in all kinds of ways. Players talk back, don’t listen to your directions, and sometimes simply refuse to play the position they’re told to play.

However, it doesn’t have to be like this. You can win your players’ respect and you can make it work! But there are some stumbling blocks that many coaches run into, especially if they’re new to this whole thing. So I’ve tried to lay out a few helpful tips to avoid falling into the hole of disrespect from your players.

Praise in Public, Critique in Private

This is perhaps the single most important piece of advice I can give to any coach or trainer out there. By praise in public, I mean during a game or practice, acknowledge when a player does something well or makes a good effort to complete a play. Something as simple as “Good work Jessica!” or “Great try Ben!” can be tremendously uplifting to a young soccer player.

Conversely, criticizing a player in public is one of the most humiliating experiences that a young player can undergo. As a referee, coach, and player, nothing makes me cringe more than when a coach starts yelling at their players. As a referee I’ve actually walked over to coaches that were bordering on verbal assault and yellow-carded them for dissent; one guy got so mad at me he decided to throw his clipboard at me! He earned himself a nice trip to the parking lot and a lifetime ban from coaching.

If you have a player that isn’t trying very hard or messes something up, do not make a public point about it. During a water break or a team drill, pull the player aside and have a chat with them individually and quietly. Ask them to explain for themselves what’s going on and get their side of the story. Oftentimes, young people just want to be heard and acknowledged. If you give them the respect of hearing them out and meaningfully talking about their concerns, they’ll give you their respect as their coach and leader.

No Favoritism

If you’re a youth soccer coach, odds are that you’re doing it because your kid is on the team. That’s phenomenal, and I think soccer coaching is a great way to bond with your child. However, many coaches show favoritism to their child, intentionally and unintentionally. I learned about this from my own dad; he coached my team for many years and he made a huge effort to make sure that I was treated like all of the other players. Don’t treat your child extra harsh and overcompensate, just treat them like any other kid on the team when you’re on the practice or game field.

Consistency and Follow-Through

This is another huge factor in earning player respect. If you institute a penalty for a behavior, such as 10 pushups for a missed pass, you must always enforce that penalty when the infraction occurs. This is also a cornerstone of refereeing; as a player I don’t mind if a ref is a “let ‘em play” type or a call everything type, as long as he’s consistent with both teams I consider it a job well done. As a referee myself, this was my guiding principle and I made it very clear to coaches and players at the beginning of the game that the calls on the field were consistent for both teams. You should make this a foundation of your coaching philosophy too.

Follow-through is somewhat related to consistency but just as important. If you say that certain consequences will come from a player doing something, then you’d better be ready to back it up. If you threaten 10 laps for talking back and that player talks back, you’d better be ready to make that player run 10 laps. And you’d better be able to take it as far as it needs to go, even sending a disruptive player home from practice if necessary. This won't feel particularly good, especially if you’re averse to conflict. But if you’re that averse to conflict, then honestly you shouldn’t be coaching; your players won’t respect you if they know that you’re full of empty threats and won’t back anything up with action.

I hope these 3 tips will help you win respect from your players and maintain that respect through the course of a season. Losing seasons in particular are very difficult times to hold the players’ respect, but if you adhere to the tips outlined here, you’ll be in good shape. If you're interested in more tips, go ahead and visit my site, where you can find more soccer coaching tips as well as product reviews for the best soccer equipment around.


Street Talk

Krisstine  

I have to agree with you when talking about praising your team and critiquing them in private. Most children respond successfully when you praise them and let's face it, kids love praise. When they hear that they are doing well they will work their butts off for you. When the game is over and the team has won all you can see are kids smiling from ear to ear. Consistency is the key to being successful. Great post, good luck!!

Reply
  about 5 years ago
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