How Did I Get Stuck With All The Weaker Players?
Mrs. Jones says to her husband as they are finishing up dinner, “The soccer meeting starts at 8:00pm you cannot be late. Matt’s now 7 and at his age you have to pick the recreation team, just like that fantasy football you are involved in. If you are the first one there maybe you can get that kid “Ronaldo” with the first pick. Nobody could stop him last year from scoring. You might want to start a friendly conversation with a few board members while you are waiting in case you need to ask for a favor.”
Mr. Jones “I am just going to try to pick his friends and some of the kids I know from baseball. I will have a much better time with this doing it that way and so will the boys.”
Mrs. Jones “I don’t want to be embarrassed every week, if you are going to do it that way, don’t pick any of those kids that were picking flowers on field last year”
Mr. Jones heads to the meeting already considering withdrawing from the list of volunteer coaches.
At the meeting, Mr. Jones sees a giant board on the wall with the list of players he has to choose from with a ranking next to each player. He quickly notices a few players with a star next to them, one of them is “Ronaldo” and he continues to look for his son on the list. Finally he locates his son with a mid level ranking and he notices his sons’ best friend is a few players below him on the list with a below average ranking. His sons’ best friend happens to tear it up in baseball, basketball and soccer and should clearly have a star next to him. Mr. Jones is now confused. Where did they get these rankings from?
The age group coordinator begins by naming the 8 head coaches and immediately removes their children from the board as they will be with their dads’ team. They go around the room and each head coach says who their assistant coach is going to be. Those players are removed from the board and added to their respective teams.
Mr. Jones notices that the majority of the players with a star next to their names are now gone. As he looks over to the board where the teams are being formed, there are multiple teams with 2 players with stars next to their names. He suddenly realizes, those coaches teamed up to have their star players together. Mr. Jones chose his assistant coach based on what a great guy he is and how good he is with the kids, not how good his kid is at soccer.
The coaches’ pick out of a hat for the order of picks and Mr. Jones gets the 6th pick…this cannot be happening he mumbles to himself. The coach with the first pick chooses his son’s best friend (ranked below average) for his team. Mr. Jones sinks in his chair. Was that kid really ranked that low by someone to hide him from other coaches who may not know him? Would they really do that?
Unfortunately, this scenario happens across the country in many youth sports organizations. Mr. Jones is willing to donate his time and was hoping for a positive experience. He has not even contacted his team and he is already dreading the season.
There are a number of different ways organization can approach this to ensure a more positive experience. The constant in the approach you choose should be fair & consistent year after year to help create a fun environment for the coaches. If the coaches enjoy the experience they will not hesitate to come back season after season, which translates into a positive experience for the players.
Is your club forming teams the same way you it did 10 years ago? Times have changed and maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how and at what age you begin drafting players to form teams.
Do you think Mr. Jones will consider coaching next season?
(Tyler Isaacson He has 30 years of playing and coaching experience. He is the founder of Youthsoccer101.com a leader in on-line coaching tools used by 100K+coaches across the country. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)