As a coach, you may be in one of two positions– either you need more help from your parents to run your practice, or you have a lot of parents attending practice who want to help, and you don’t quite know what to do with them.
If you fall into the first category (needing more parent help) it is advisable to use your assistant coach and/or team mom as your ‘recruiters,’ because you may be busy enough with drills, game day preparation, etc.
Send a message through your team “phone tree” that you are looking for some able-bodied parents to help you out at practice (be careful not to say you are looking for more “assistant coaches,” because you don’t know everyone’s experience level) and see if you get any volunteers.
If your parents simply seem too busy to give you the commitment you need, consider contacting a local high school or college soccer coach to see if any of their players would be interested in helping out at practice (often, high school or college-age players need to fulfill “community service requirements” for college applications or resumes and assisting at community soccer practices can be a good way to do this).
If you fall into the latter category, with lots of parents standing around at your practices, don’t hesitate to get your parents involved. Make sure they can refrain from coaching their own children too much, and that they have some soccer experience. If you do station work at practice (which is advisable to avoid having your players waiting around in lines during the drills), then have a parent stand at a station and “remind” the players what they are doing at that station. The parents can also chase balls, act as “feeders,” (rolling the ball into play) and can supervise a small group while you, the coach, move among all of the groups.
Remember, you are the coach, and you don’t want or need your parents trying to coach the kids as well. Remind them that they are there to supervise and provide the kids with some guidance during drills, not to try to advise them about soccer skills. If your parents have questions, they should come to you first.
Another good technique is to meet with your “helper parents” for a few minutes after practice to see what everyone noticed and get everyone’s input. This way, the parents feel that their opinions are important, yet you can pick and choose among the comments at a later time.
As a general rule, it is not usually helpful for parents or even coaches to play with the players during practice. The adults can run over kids and may take over too much on the field. Keep the adult play for the end-of-season party.
Use common sense when recruiting parents to help you out at practices– generally, if you feel you need some help in organization and supervision, stationing parents around the field during practice can be very helpful.
The only thing you need to be careful of is giving the kids too much instruction, which can confuse and bore them. Parents can also help in fundraising efforts, making phone calls, organizing drinks and snacks (often falls under the responsibility of the ‘team mom’), and managing equipment.