Here is what to expect and how to behave before, during, and after games for parents and coaches. See the References at the bottom of this page for supporting documentation.
Before the game:
- Be familiar with The Laws of the Game and AYSO's Short-Side Games guidelines for the division in which you are playing.
- Know your game schedule! All schedules are in WebYouthSoccer or posted on one of our websites (talk to your coach). Listed times are kickoff times (U8-U19). See also Fields & Games.
- Be on time! Arrive at the field at least 30 minutes before kickoff for U8-U19 for warm-up, 10 minutes before for U5/U6 (U5/U6 have a 30 minute practice then 20-30 minute game).
- If you have net setup (first game of the day) arrive at least 45 minutes before kickoff (30 minutes early for U5/U6 net set up).
- All players must bring/wear uniforms (shirt, shorts, socks), shoes, shinguards (under socks!), and water. They should also bring their ball if the coach asks. Cleats are helpful but not required, any athletic shoe is ok.
- Coaches must bring game cards with player names & numbers filled out (not needed for U5 or U6).
- Coaches must bring signed player registration/medical release forms for all players to all games and practices (not needed for U5 since every player has a parent present).
- RAIN: Unless the Region cancels a game (by listing the field as closed at https://sites.google.com/site/ayso2jfields/ or otherwise notifying teams), all teams should play every game! At a game, the center referee makes the call. AYSO and our kids win when everyone plays. It takes a large amount of money and volunteer work to organize our season and games (training, teams, uniforms, fields, equipment, coaches, referees, and more). Please respect all of this work that is done for you and your child and
make every effort to attend all games regardless of weather and
- If your player cannot make a game, let your coaches (or group leader in the case of U5) know as far in advance as possible. Coaches spend lots of time preparing for games. Please respect their time and effort by communicating to them clearly and in advance.
- The scheduled snack family should bring snacks/drinks for players and referees at half time and after the game.
- Do not bring pets to soccer games. Games are busy enough plus our local schools prohibit pets & dogs -- we risk losing our field permits otherwise -- no field, no games for anyone.
- Players may not were any jewelry. If a player is required by their religion to wear an item and it cannot be removed temporarily, that item must be taped down (or otherwise well secured) and the player should carry a letter from a religious authority explaining the requirement. Even then, if the item is deemed too dangerous by a referee, the player will not be allowed to play. Please leave jewelry at home.
- Parents should be positive with their players before, during, and after games.
During the game:
- Players play.
- During the game, players are in charge of their own game. Let them play and communicate on their own.
- For U5 and U6 in our region there are usually 2 games going in parallel with both teams split in half on 2 mini fields rather than just 1 game (this is a slight variation from AYSO National Guidelines to make team management easier).
- Coaches coach.
- Coaches should observe and write down what players did well during games and what the team should work on at its next practice. Coaches should talk to the players who are sitting out so those players learn and are prepared for their turn to play. It is a best practice for coaches to give few or no on-field instructions during games because the game is the best teacher. Game time is the time for players to play the game on their own. This position is strongly endorsed by AYSO, US Soccer, and the Positive Coaching Alliance. Positive recognition and cheering are always appropriate. Leave instructions for before and after games and at training sessions.
- FULL TANKS! -- Keep players' emotional tanks full with lots of positive recognition of what players did well. This gives them more energy to play and learn.
- Coaches should wear their AYSO coach license in their badge holders/neck wallet so other coaches, referees, region officials, parents and players know who the coaches are (assistants and head). Be proud to be a fully trained AYSO coach!
- Coaches MUST give their game lineup card (with all names and uniform numbers filled in) to the referee. The referee (or timekeeper) is responsible for marking which players are absent, sitting out, injured, etc. The coach should not mark this part of the game lineup card in advance. For lineup cards, see our Coaches page.
- Coaches must exhibit exemplary behavior during games (players and parents copy what the coach does).
- Coaches should do their utmost to avoid blowouts (winning by 5 or more goals). For more on this read Blowouts (Tim's perspective) and/or Blowouts (Art's perspective)
- FAST SUBS! -- In AYSO substitutions are done half way through each half ("quarter subs") and at half time. Coaches should make sure quarter subs are fast! This is not a time for water breaks or giving coaching instructions -- coaching should be done before games, after games, and at half time. When the referee calls for substitutions, players who are subbing out should leave the field and sit with their coach as fast as they can while players subbing in move onto the field so play can be restarted as quickly as possible.
- For other coach responsibilities, please read Coaches.
- Parents cheer!
- Parents should not give instructions to players on the field. Parents should cheer (loudly if they wish) and give positive recognition. Parents should have the players' water ready for players if they come to the touchline during the game to get water. Players may get a drink whenever they want one but cannot leave the field during the game, they must stay on the touchline while drinking.
- All parents should read "Why Sideline Screaming Can Stifle Your Child’s Game"
- Parents should not enter the field of play during a game unless the referee asks for their assistance -- even if their player is injured. Let the referee and coach handle injuries, it is their job and responsibility. (Note that for U5, every parent is a coach).
- Referees supervise the game.
- The referee is in charge of the game while the coaches are in charge of their players and parents. During the game, the referee is THE final authority.
- Referees are easy to identify from their brightly colored striped referee shirts. We have a number of youth referees and we must be especially respectful of them as they are doing all of us a tremendous service.
- Soccer is a rough sport, bumps & bruises will happen -- that is why parents read and signed the AYSO medical release form.
- If an incident happens on the field, it is the referee's job to handle it. Only call for the referee's attention if there is a serious life-threatening situation -- talk to your coach if you have concerns. Coaches should only enter the field of play if the referee asks them to attend to a player. Parents should only enter the field of play if a coach or referee ask for their assistance. Let the coaches and referees do their job -- they have been trained for this -- your coach is fully trained and AYSO licensed, yes?
- Never yell or shout in anger. Parents and coaches are role models -- we expect them to act as such and demonstrate exemplary polite behavior and good sportsmanship for our
- Stay at least 3 feet away from the touchline (side line). Only the lines person or referees should be in this area.
- All coaches, spectators, and players who are not playing should stay within the spectator boxes (if marked) or outside the touchline and between the two penalty areas (if not marked) -- with teams on opposite sides of the field if possible. No spectators should be near or behind the goal unless they have the permission of the referee. Please note that these coach and spectator locations are standard for Region 64 and a common practice for many regions, but other regions or specific fields may have other rules -- particularly at the U16 & U19 level.
- To enable kids to learn the game more easily, AYSO uses short sided games and a reduced set of rules that grow as kids progress through the divisions. These changes are sanctioned by FIFA. Please review these at our Laws of the Game page.
Post game ceremony:
- Immediately after the game, the coaches' primary responsibility is to quickly gather all their players for a cheer for the other team and then get them lined up for the post game greeting/handshake. Make sure all players and coaches politely greet the opposing team players and coaches to honor them for a game well played. Please also thank the referees.
- Parents should form a celebration tunnel or line to congratulate their players for a game well played after the players have finished greeting the other team.
After the game:
- Parents and coaches should move their team away from the playing field so the next team can set up.
- It is a best practice for coaches to have a post game chat with all the players immediately following the game while they eat their snack -- recognizing each and every player for one or two specific things that they did well during the game. Win or lose, the coach can make the team feel good about how they did during the game -- then the game is a big win for the kids regardless. Also while the kids are tired and eating is one of the best opportunities for the coach to talk to the team.
- Parents and coaches should always stay positive. Coaches may mention a few things to work on as a team but should maintain a 5 to 1 ratio of positive recognition to corrections. Yes, this is very hard to do, but if you accomplish this you will be a much better coach!
- Parents may address concerns with coaches and/or referees after all kid activity is complete and should do so out of hearing range of the kids. Also consider contacting the referee administrator (email@example.com) or coach administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org) if significant issues remain.
- If it is the last game of the day, parents should put away all the
equipment (including Kid Zone signs) while the coach conducts the post game chat.
- Everyone (players, parents, coaches) should help clean up the field before the team departs. We always want to leave the field cleaner than when we arrived. We risk losing our field permits if we leave trash behind -- no field, no games for anyone.