Irish Grassroots Football

Season Planner

Communication is the key to having a positive working environment as is your values, beliefs and philosophy. By gathering information received from the players and parents on the previous years work, you should then devise the following years plan based on those suggestions but ultimately it’s your ideas that the team will abide to. Put it all in writing and hand it to each parent at your Pre-season meeting. Time spent with the parents will be a worthwhile exercise, it allows you to share the ground rules and it also inform them of your plan.

Write your pledge about the playing time each player will get and those parents who want only the best to play can see in advance what your about. This will let everyone know where they stand. Remember breaks are important, so always schedule a break in the season, particular when the season finishes. Everyone needs to recharge. Playing sport is just one part of a family life and above sport is education and belong sport is a social life. 

Plan for season

  • Explain how the try-outs will work. (Most clubs will have a team for all levels)
  • Explain how the teams will be chosen to the players and parents. (Be open and honest, kids will know if they aren’t at a certain level)
  • Don’t take on to many players, although it might seem like the best thing to do at the time. It usually always leads to the same players not getting enough game time. For 7 aside football I suggest 9  committed players; for 9 aside i suggest 11 committed players and for 11 aside football 14 to 15 committed players is ideal depending on the age and length of each game. Some leagues have role on role off and others don’t, so you will need to take this into account.
  • The kids should all be playing at their best level, so don’t hold kids back. If they are good enough then they should move up. The same goes for players who can’t compete at a certain level they should be playing at a level where they are enjoying their sport.
  • New season should be a clean slate for all players.
  • Players will be evaluated based on their overall season performance and their ability, effort, attitude at the time of the try-out not based on previous clubs, or what they won or who their parents are.
  • Explain how playing time will be determined – Be specific – don’t just say everyone will play. Commit to giving each child at least half of every game and if a player doesn’t start a game then make sure he starts the next for example.
  • If you don’t train, you don’t play.
  • If you don’t pay, you don’t play.
  • Defend how you play and develop versus long ball tactics and winning. If you like playing from the back but lose goals over it, explain to the parents why you are doing it but make sure you are improving the team. You won’t be able to get them on your side if you continue to leak goals and do nothing about it.
  • Move players around in positions, this will help them develop an understanding for the other positions on the pitch.

‘When the adults want to win more than the kids, therein lies a lot of whats wrong with kids sports’

Poll your Players

  • Ask the players what they want and need?
  • What is their favourite thing about playing football?
  • What is the least favourite thing?
  • I suggest doing a player evaluation session and get them to evaluate themselves. This way you will be able to understand their goals and areas they want to improve in.
  • How important is winning? 5 being extremely and 1 being not important
  • How important is it for you to play equal time versus minimum meaningful time?
  • Ask players for 5 ideas that will make training and games more fun?
  • Ask players to define what would be a successful season for him/her?
  • Do you know if your players other sports?
  • Are they thinking of taking up any other sports?
  • Get to know them outside of sport. Education, family and social life etc

Poll the Yourself

  • Why did you sign up to coach a team?
  • How does it feel to be coached by me?
  • What is your favourite thing about coaching?
  • What is your least favourite?
  • How will you organise the team?
  • How do you define a successful season?
  • How can I improve?

Poll your Parents

  • How many training sessions per week do you think is sufficient?
  • How many games per week?
  • Is there anything we should know or understand about your child?
  • Many kids come from single parent families, what are the issues, if any the child has?
  • How do you define a successful season?
  • What are the parents concerns?
  • How is the player doing in school?
  • Any further comments or issues?

“The single most important question you can ask your child is, why do you play sport? Before you ask that question, ask you yourself the same question. If their reason is not the same as yours, – then you have one choice, forget about yours and accept theirs” – TCD

The Plan

You may be surprised at some of the ‘Answers’ you get, including your own.

Gather the information received from players and parents and daft a plan for your team for the season ahead.

  • Put your plans, commitments, in writing – your pledge.
  • Make a copy for everyone and set up a pre season meeting.
  • Time spent with the parents will be a worthwhile and it is essential.
  • Write a pledge that states clearly how playing time will be divided. (Your most committed and loyal players will be the ones with the most attendance.)
  • Write that everyone will get a minimum amount of minutes (once they train like everyone else), it will keep things honest.
  • The parents that want to play the “best” can see in advance what you’re about and how you like to do things.
  • The parents that want everyone to play “everyone the same” can see where you stand on team playing time.
  • Explain how places will be defined, I know this can be difficult, the better you plan in advance and commit on paper, the better off you will be during the season. This helps to take personalities and politics out of the picture.
  • If you are improving everyone and the players are all committed you will create a competitive and healthy team environment.
  • Devise some team rules.

Gather All The Data & Devise Plan

  • How many training sessions per week, how long each practice will be?
  • How many weeks the season will last.
  • Plans for post season tournaments, trips etc?
  • Players and parents to get days off during the season. Breaks, rest , family time is just as important.  Lets players and parents know that organised football is a small part of a balanced family life. Parents may have other kids to keep happy.
  • It’s as important for parents to take time away from the weekend game as it is for players to play without always having parents watching from the line every week.
  • Be clear about what you expect from the parents and players. Commitment has to work both ways. Without involvement there is no commitment.
  • State rules for missing training or games, what the procedure is to notify the coach (the need to know in advance) and what the consequences are for missing training and games.
  • Come up with some team rules and involve the players. When you have defined 2/3 team rules and the players contribute to them they are more likely to buy into them.  This way parents & players, know the consequences when team rules are broken.
  • Commit to the rules and always be in control of team dynamics.
  • The one thing players want the most, is to play. Taking this away is one way of preventing them from breaking rules.
  • Being good in school can bring rewards. Education is the most important factor, without it they have very little.
  • Define your overall ethos and coaching methods.
  • Define coaches role and managers role.
  • Communication is key, but you don’t need to get personal with parents. Getting over personal makes it harder if you ever have to release a player.
  • Be in control of the sideline. Don’t allow the parents to control the line.
  • Create a culture of encouragement and praise and don’t let the parents talk over you.
  • Devise your values and make everyone aware of them. Values define who you are.
  • If you value respect then expect you players too.
  • Organise a pre-season team building exercise and make sure it doesn’t involve the sport.

“Without involvement there is no commitment. No involvement, no commitment”

Meeting The Parents

Invites players and all parents along to the meeting, don’t complicate things and keep is short and simple. Parents are about to place their child in your hands, they want to know what your about. At least one parent of every child should attend the meeting, make it compulsory to attend.

  1. You’re number one aim should be to let parents know that primarily kids will be in safe hands.
  2. They will be having fun (as you will) and they will be learning (improving).
  3. It’s also a good ice breaker
  4. It also reminds parents how much they know and don’t know about the game.
  5. It should stop all that screaming and shouting at kids on the sidelines, when you let them know what their role is.
  6. Allow about 30 minutes for your talk.
  7. Then take questions until there are no more.

Good Luck! 

If you want a player evaluation form, drop me an email.


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

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