Coaching soccer

I am in a tough spot where my daughter who is 9, has been in travel soccer for her 3rd season now. Her coach is of the belief to have set positions for the past 3 seasons. There are girls who are playing the same position for 3 seasons and of course that includes the coach and asst coach daughters playing up front and starting every game. My daughter has been on this travel team for 3 seasons and has started every game on the bench. This past summer, I had her sign up with a soccer camp in a nearby town that is led by an ex pro soccer player and 3 coaches commented on how she has talent and would love to have her on their team.

I am writing this because I feel that at this age, kids should not be playing the same position every game and should not be a starter every game. I coach and teach my 6 year old son's soccer team and we have each child play different postions, regardless of talent, body type, age etc. In my belief, that is how they learn the game and the fundamentals of it.

I am planning to speak with my daughter's coach this week and bring up the point of where I am observing the above and feel he should give each child the same chance as others have. Sure, it's evident some kids show more talent than others but that isn't the point at this age. The point is to educate the kids, to have them have FUN and not play to win which I strongly feel he is doing. The team lost every game for the past 3 seasons. Not one time did he move kids around to different positions etc. Not even then...I am going into this conversation to not tell him what to do but perhaps open him up to a potential blind spot he may have. I also wouldn't mind even volunteering my time to assist coach this team but he may feel threatened by it. I am normally a low key person but this boils my blood to the point that I cannot stand by any longer and must say something. I plan to do it constructively and in a calm manner and not accuse him as he is a nice guy but feel compelled to give my opinion.

Am I in the wrong here? Thoughts, criticisms are welcome please!

I think you have the right of it. Kids should be rotated around between positions and bench/starter even into their teen years (depending on the program and such). From what you've wrote, the coach has shown clear favourtism and that'd be enough for me to speak out.

My God, this whole post gives me horrible flashbacks to my own career in youth soccer and the dreadful parent-coaches.

From personal experience, it's about more than just playing time. Playing for a coach who doesn't believe in her is going to erode your daughter's confidence in her ability, if it hasn't done so already. When she went to the summer camp, I bet she played much better than she usually does, because, suddenly, there were coaches who complimented her and believed in her, and she no longer felt overlooked and unappreciated. I suspect this because I went through the exact same thing (although I was a little older than she is).

I don't think it hurts to speak to the coach, but I would not necessarily expect anything to change. Instead, I'd be looking around for a different club for her to join. You say the summer-camp coaches would have loved to have her on their team. Well? Is that a possibility?

(And yeah, you're right: regardless of talent, they should all be getting decent playing time. Especially if the rules allow unlimited, rolling substitutions. There is really no excuse.)

Thanks for the feedback Vector and Tasty Pudding. You are both validating my concerns of which I will speak with the coach. I also sent an email to the coach of the summer camp she attended inquiring about their program. Going to also look at the city near us and see how their program is in the event nothing changes. I really think my daughter is losing her confidence and that is something my wife and I have been trying hard to help with. The coaches in the other program helped lift it up but her current coach, perhaps unknowingly, is dampening it again.

Remember, if all else fails, just punch the coach square in the jaw in the middle of a game in front of everyone else.

lol /flex

Wow, 3 years of travel at age 9? My son’s league didn’t even start travel until 9.

Back to the subject at hand,

1) you shouldn’t specialize at this age. Kids skills change and evolve over time. Sometimes they like to attack and score goals and sometimes they like to work on defense. Plus, ultimately on a turnover, the striker is your first line of defense and your goalie is your first part of your offense. They need to learn the same skills and practicing different positions can help with understanding the full team concept
2) 3 years and no starts? Plus no mixing it up? I would run like hell from those coaches. They will get a short term competitive advantage from the player’s specializing in their positions at the expense of player development. This sounds like a disaster foisted by coaches who want to make money by fluffing their win loss record and trophy count (let me guess, lots of tournaments too)
3). Yes fun is really important. Every kid at that age needs to enjoy what they are doing. It sounds like fun is being sacrificed to build a machine travel team. The funny thing is, I saw a lot of teams like this when my son was in travel soccer. Most of them broke up when parents went crazy about how much better their kid was vs everyone else. There is a reason why most kids, especially girls, stop playing organized sports in middle school

Ultimately, ask your daughter, she should have some input into the decision. If she likes the summer camp coaches, go with them. If it was me, I would have my kid out of there ASAP

Sorry I meant 3 seasons, not years.

You hit it on the head. They were in a tournament last season and have another in 2 weeks, in addition to their regular season.

I spoke with him and the assistant today. I went into it calmly but with intent. He was caught off guard when I told him that my daughter felt good after the last game but asked us why she didn't start and if she wasn't playing well since she wasn't a starter. I told him that I am working on her confidence and her not starting in 3 seasons isn't helping at all. I explained to him that I noticed that the kids are playing the same position all the time and that this is the age where they should be playing different positions, not just 1 as they are sponges and should learn from each area. I also explained to him that I wasn' there to tell him what to do and not asking that my daughter start every game but every girl should be.

His reply was thanking me for the feedback and that they had a lot of new girls putting them in a hard spot. They wanted to break the team up into 2 teams (currently 14-15 girls) but the soccer group said no. He said he put my daughter on D because the new girls were on offense and he wanted to anchor the D to not have the other team run all over them. He never committed to anything, which I didn't expect anyways, just saying it's not easy and they are trying. The assistant coach made a comment that she wasn't at the game the week before (we were away that weekend, you got to be kidding me, we can't take a weekend getaway after all this COVID bs?) to which I replied what does that have to do with anything? I was thinking to myself is this some sort of punishment then? WTF kind of statement was that?

Anyways, I felt good telling them how I felt and observed and leaning toward sending an email later tonight reiterating what we discussed to cement it in and ensure my points are coming across to both. I am not expecting an about face but they will know where I stand and hopefully be more aware of their favoritism, strive to win over fairness is noticed. Looking at surrounding areas as well. Just hard since she has friends from school on the team. So frustrating but as a parent, this is an opportunity where I may need to act on and take her out if nothing changes.

Any update on your daughter? Did the coaches change?

I'm entering this thread straight off my first time watching my nine-year-old nephew play soccer. Everybody changed positions, and often. Even my nephew, who scored a goal, was benched soon afterward. My brother is the head coach. The goalie only played goalie for part of the first half.

whispa wrote:

that includes the coach and asst coach daughters playing up front and starting every game.


Definitely want to know how your daughter's doing. And also whether or not coach and assistant coach have ever taken time off. *shrug*

Yeah those coaches sound like putzes. Totally the wrong attitude to have for kid soccer. If she likes to play and you can I would get her to another program. Those coaches are not going to change their personality.

Thanks for the follow up and asking how things are going!!

Well, the coach put her in as striker and mid field and she scored two goals already! The first goals she ever scored!! Can't make it up and I can't help but have a little of a wicked smile when she did! It was probably in the top 5 happiest days of my life when she scored her first goal which was a beauty of a shot! She scored her second today and was the only goal our team scored. I am happy the coaches took my suggestion but on the other hand still seeing other girls playing the same position for the most part with the same core group of girls. I was hoping he would switch the lineups and let the girls play not just other positions but with other girls but I guess one can't have it all. Other than my daughter switching positions, her friend who used to only play goalie, started playing midfielder after her Mom and my wife spoke and she told her daughter to speak up and ask to play other positions.

I did get in touch with the other coach from the summer camp she was in and he said he would love to have her on his team. I decided to keep her on this team to close the season out but will give it serious thought to join the other team next year. Will see how things go and would like to get a better feel of the other coach and his philosophy first.

I am so happy that she is building her self confidence and believing in herself. It is such a turnaround! Imagine that? Now it would be nice if he took the same approach for the other girls as well!!

I'm glad things are looking up for your daughter. So sorry that the coaches aren't generalizing their lesson. Even from a totally cynical, results-oriented perspective, how much talent is languishing on the bench because of their short-sightedness?

sometimesdee wrote:

I'm glad things are looking up for your daughter. So sorry that the coaches aren't generalizing their lesson. Even from a totally cynical, results-oriented perspective, how much talent is languishing on the bench because of their short-sightedness?

Thanks! I absolutely agree with you. Sticking with the same lineup and positions is a big mistake that I think the coaches are making. So shortsighted, especially if pointed it out to them both.