By Tyler Isaacson
Are you taking your eye off of the ball in regards to your recreation program?
In many clubs the recreation side gets much less attention than the travel side of things. This is unfortunate because the recreation side, in most clubs, has participation of three to four times more players then travel.
With the larger numbers playing recreation then why does it seem that almost every board meeting the majority of the difficult issues discussed are about travel? Shouldn't your board meeting allocate a greater amount of time to discuss the recreation program?
We all know there are exceptions to this and many clubs have a well-run recreation programs with systems in place for the coaches and players. A well-run program is one that needs less attention because it almost runs itself.
As an administrator you need to ask yourself -- “Are you doing all you can to provide your recreation players with a positive learning experience and are you providing your coaches with the tools to help them achieve this.”
It all starts with your volunteer coaches. Are you providing them with the training and tools so that they can transfer the clubs recreation philosophy to the field? These coaches are usually just getting their feet wet with youth soccer and have no idea where to begin.
Here are a few suggestions:
(1) Have an organized system in place for recreation coaches. This may include training clinics, written guidance or video presentations. You must have age appropriate materials in place. Coaching a 4-year-old is much different then coaching a 10-year-old.
(2) Make sure the plan you have for the coaches is duplicatable and cost effective. A board member or trainer running practices for the coach is not cost effective and for most clubs in not duplicatable.
(3) When recruiting coaches for your recreation program, emphasize the support and tools your club has in place to help guide them through the season. If the system you have set up is good, the word will get out and you will attract as many volunteer coaches as you need for your recreation program.
(4) Keep it simple for the coaches. Remember, they are coaching at the recreation level and not travel. Keep it fun and try to make it a great experience for the players and the coaches.
The recreation soccer participation numbers are staggering. Maybe it is time to re-focus your club priorities where the majority of your players participate.
There is no better compliment when neighboring town players flocking to your recreation program because of the great reputation your program has established.
(Tyler Isaacson is a club president, travel coach, recreation coach, youth player, college player and dad. He has 30 years of playing and coaching experience and has developed a Recreation Support System that is currently used by clubs in 14 states. For more information, go to: www.youthsoccer101.com.)
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