How to Best Approach Your Athlete's Coach About More Playing Time
Every parent has been there. Your child goes through a set of stressful tryouts, they get selected, and in many cases are then asked to make a big financial commitment to their soccer Club to cover coaching and field use fees.
A few weeks go by, the season begins, and your athlete finds him or herself on the fringes of the team, barely getting playing time in games that matter.
Let's look at a few ideas for approaching your son or daughter's coach for more playing time.
Know the Facts
It's easy for any parent to get defensive about their child, and normal to look out for their best interests.
Before you approach your coach with questions as to why your players isn't seeing more minutes, take the time to check in and ask what the training habits are like for your player. Are they focused, dedicated, and consistently working hard during practices? What is your player's attendance like?
Today's athletes have a ton on their plates between school, other sports, homework, and a social life. Check yourself and ask if you've been getting your player to training consistently and on time. Once you know the facts, you'll be much more prepared to start the playing time discussion.
Encourage Your Player To Speak Up
Ask any coach and they appreciate the player speaking up and asking how they can get more minutes versus the parent.
Embolden your young athlete to approach his or her coach in a polite manner and ask what they can do better in training to get more time on the field or become a starter. Your child's coach will respect the fact that your player had the courage to speak up on their own behalf, that they asked respectfully, and more importantly, that they have voiced a desire to get more playing time.
Every player should want to start every game. Every player should want more minutes. That's what being a competitive player is all about, and if the player takes the initiative with behind the scenes support of the parent, it goes a long way with the coach.
Have Your Player Put In Extra Time Outside of Team Practices
It goes with out saying that the more time your athlete dedicates to improving as a player the more playing time he or she will get. Encourage your son or daughter to put in some extra hours: juggling, working on moves/ball mastery, developing their left foot, etc.
Any good coach will be able to recognize that practice is happening outside of the team and that may in itself help earn more minutes, but you can also get creative, grab your smart phone, shoot a 30 second video of your player putting in the work and then send it to coach.
Telling the story of the extra work being put in and the player's commitment will make an impression.
Know Your Club's Playing Time Policy
It's good for parents to have all the facts on a soccer club's playing time policy, preferably before accepting a spot on a team, so that if the playing time conversation comes up you are well equipped to make your points for your child.
Don't hammer the coach with Billy only played 18.5 minutes, but know what the policy is, and respectfully find the right time to bring it up if you feel that club policy is not being adhered to.
Competitive Means Competitive
Keep in mind that if your family and player have signed on for a competitive soccer team, then the team is just that, competitive. Healthy competition for playing time is the hallmark of a deep squad.
Try and motivate your player, let them know that fighting to rise to the top is a character trait their going to need to harness and develop in every facet of their life post their youth soccer careers.
Competing builds character, makes your player better, emotionally and physically, and is something that all top level Club players have dealt with at one point in their lives.
The playing time conversation is never any easy one to have, and it's hard to fight the urge to lash out and defend your son or daughter, especially if you've laid out funds and are doing a ton of travel time on the road to get to matches.
Tread lightly, you may not be seeing how much fun your player is having in training, or how they're steadily improving each week, even if it's not entirely visible on game day.
Empower your athlete to be their own spokesperson, to be respectful, but to also ask questions and verbalize that they want more playing time.