Game Day Coaching

The following information details the New York Red Bulls Youth Training Programs match philosophy and expectations as it relates to the role of the player, coach, and parent.

  • Clubs must encourage players, coaches and parents to honor the game collectively by adopting a player-centered philosophy.
  • Youth soccer games should be viewed in a different context to professional games. The main focus in a professional soccer game is to win.  In youth soccer, the main focus needs to be fun and development; winning will be a byproduct.
  • Unlike many American sports, soccer is not a coach-centered sport; the game is free flowing with limited stoppages in play.  Once a player crosses the white line, it is their game and they must make their own technical and tactical decisions.  The coach’s decisions are more strategic.
  • Match day is a players chance to put into action what they have learned from practice.  It is purely an extension of the training session where transfer of learning should occur. 
  • Players who are over-coached during practice and matches will become robotic and will not be able to make critical game decisions on their own. If the coaches are doing all the talking, the players won’t communicate. 


On game days, the interaction between the following groups should be considered:
  • Team Coaches
  • Opponents
  • Parents
  • Officials

The following tables provide suggested interaction guidelines between each party. If followed, a player-centered culture of respect should be created.

(1) TEAM COACHES (Includes Parent Coaches and Trainers)
• Verbal instructions should be carefully measured to provide players with the necessary information they need to improve without over-coaching or joy-sticking players
• The officials’ decisions should be respected and unchallenged. No attempt should be made to influence their decisions or the outcome of the game
• Parents should be engaged in the educational process. If possible, parents should be debriefed to ensure they understand post game goals and areas for discussion with their children
• Sportsmanship and fair play should be of the utmost importance. Respect for the opposition’s coaches, their players and parents ensures a supportive environment for both sets of players

• Parents and team coaches should be on the same page with regards to the team’s seasonal objectives, which should be communicated during preseason.

• Parents should avoid questioning or confronting the team coach during or immediately after a game.  Where appropriate parents should call or email the team coach to discuss the issue.
• Be supportive but don’t coach from the sidelines.  Let the coaches communicate important information to avoid confusing players.  A parent’s role should be to provide support and encouragement.  If parents are over communicating, it takes away the opportunity for players to communicate with each other. 
• Avoid defining success and failure in terms of winning and losing.  For each game, the coach will have defined skill acquisition goals for the team. These are the objectives that should be used to measure success. This will teach players to have a better perspective on the game experience. 
• Parents should not question or try to influence a referee’s decision for any reason.  Mistakes will happen; parents should be a role model for their players.  Any communication to the referee should be via the team coach.
• Parent’s interaction with players from the opposite team should only ever be positive and sportsmanlike in nature. Parents should never get involved in any type of verbal confrontation or dispute with parents and players of the opposing team, whatever the reason.
• Respect the decisions of the team coach with regards to playing time and position as well as substitutions.
• Players should have an open and inquisitive mind when receiving feedback from the coach. Players should be encouraged to implement feedback where applicable.
• Encourage other players on your team and support decisions of teammates regardless of the outcome.
• Players should not question or argue with a referee’s decision for any reason.  Mistakes will happen; players should respect the decision and continue with the game. 
• Fair play and good sportsmanship should be an integral part of all interactions with opposition players. Shake hands and congratulate all players on a good game upon completion of the match.
• Players should not look to their parents during the game for feedback or information on their self-performance. Players should focus on the game and their own performance with no distraction.
• Players should keep their parents informed of important information that the coach has relayed after the game.  This may include logistical information for future training session or games and player development information that relates to focused areas of improvement.