Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Keep parents in the loop
by Alex Kos, January 27th, 2010 1:30PM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

By Alex Kos

When my wife and I ask our kids how they are doing in school, the answer is always "great." Fortunately, many of their teachers email us weekly progress reports that give us a clearer, more accurate picture of how they are really doing. However, nothing beats a parent/teacher conference, especially when our child is included.

One year, based on a parent's suggestion, I decided to offer player/parent/coach meetings for the competitive U-11 youth soccer team I was coaching. My only regret was that I did not do it earlier. It turned out to be very valuable for players and parents alike. To this day, I still get compliments from the parents who were part of that team.

First, I wrote individual evaluations for each player. This was followed up with a face-to-face meeting with each player and his parents. Below, I describe the process in more detail.

Evaluations
My recommendation is to do at least two evaluations each season, three if you are coaching a competitive team.

* The first evaluation should take place two to four weeks after the first practice. By that time, coaches should have a fairly good idea of their players' strengths and areas that need improving.

* The second evaluation is optional for a house team but is very worthwhile for a competitive team. Mid-season is a great time to have this evaluation. The season is well under way and a coaches should have a good idea of where their team stacks up against the competition and probably has a game plan in mind for the rest of the year. This is a great opportunity for parents to ask questions or bring up concerns that can still be addressed.

* The final evaluation should take place just before the end of the season. A coach has seen how the players improved throughout the season and what needs to be worked on in the offseason. This is a great time for a coach to share his or her plans for the following year and to get a feel for what the players and parents have in mind as well.

Evaluation Format
The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is a non-profit organization founded at Stanford University that was created to transform the culture of youth sports to give all young athletes the opportunity for a positive, character-building experience. My home league requires that all coaches attend PCA's "Double-Goal" session before the start of the season. This gives new and seasoned coaches tools to become more effective teachers and coaches.

One particular method that I really like and have incorporated into my evaluations and meetings is called the "Criticism Sandwich." PCA recommends sandwiching criticism (or corrections) with a compliment on both sides. The criticism is the meat, while the compliments are the bread.

My evaluations were an open-faced criticism sandwich. I first listed all the good qualities and traits a player possessed followed by a list of areas that needed improving. I always listed at least three good qualities and at least three areas needing improvement. I always had at least one assistant review my feedback not just to get his feedback but to make sure that nothing inappropriate was being said. Always make sure that the areas for improvement are attainable by that player.

Player/Parent/Coach Meeting
I prepared and conducted the meetings in the following manner:

* I emailed my evaluation to each family before the meeting to give them time to review my feedback and come prepared with any questions.

* I tried to have the meetings between tournament games. When that was not an option, I set aside a practice and had my assistant run a 'fun' practice while I was busy with the meetings. Each meeting was no longer than 10 minutes.

I used the more traditional "criticism sandwich" during these meeting. I went over the player's strengths. That was followed by a discussion covering the areas that needed improving. This part was indeed a discussion (not a monologue) because I wanted the player and parents to agree, disagree, or ask questions. I always ended the meeting with lots of positive reinforcements and encouragement and I let the player know that I believed that he had what it took to become a better player.

If it was the second or third meeting, I always reviewed the previous improvement list to see how much progress he had made.

I always talked directly to the player and included the parents when I wanted to emphasize a particular point.

Yes, it will probably consume many, many hours of your time, especially writing the evaluations. If time is an issue, having only one round of meetings is better than none. This exercise turned out to be very worthwhile and rewarding for myself as well. I feel I became a much more positive coach as I started to use the criticism sandwich technique much more in practice and during games.

If you are not already doing player evaluations and having meetings with your players and parents, I hope you give it a try. I guarantee you that the parents will appreciate the effort.

(Alex Kos' experiences as a player, coach, referee, parent and fan are shared in his blog,  Improving Soccer in the United States, where this article first appeared.)


Do you have an idea for a Youth Insider Soccer column? We'd love to hear it. E-mail us at: mike@socceramerica.com.

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
A strong case for high school soccer from Laura Kerrigan: 'Let's not have turf wars'    
In our continued coverage of the debate over clubs that don't want their players taking part ...
Offside Decisions: Defender's Deliberate Play vs. a Deflection    
Flushing, Queens is home to U.S. Open tennis and Citi Field, where the New York Mets ...
Big U.S. U-17 wins a 'snapshot of good signs of progress'    
During three games over five days last week at the Nike International Friendlies in Florida, Coach ...
Stunning win by U.S. U-17 boys: 7-1 over Portugal    
The Nike International Friendlies tournament, launched in 2001 for the U.S. U-17 boys national team, has ...
North Koreans deliver a beating to USA at U-20 Women's World Cup    
Not all of the North Koreans' play against the USA in their 2-1 semifinal win at ...
USA faces nemesis North Korea at U-20 Women's World Cup     
Two years ago in Canada, the U-20 Women's World Cup ended in disappointment when Coach Michelle ...
Fair play pays off for USA at U-20 Women's World Cup    
The USA did not receive a single yellow card in its three Group C games at ...
High School vs. Club: Three questions for Brandon Silva    
The bashing of high school soccer reached new heights with the U.S. Soccer Federation launching a ...
USA takes step toward quarterfinals of U-20 Women's World Cup    
After opening with a scoreless tie against France, the USA beat New Zealand, 3-1, to take ...
Stalemate start for USA at U-20 Women's World Cup    
The USA, facing what is likely its strongest Group C opponent, opened the U-20 Women's World ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives