What Time Should You Get To A Football Game How to Keep Players Coming Back in Youth Football

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How to Keep Players Coming Back in Youth Football

Tips for Retaining Players in Youth Soccer

Part of the “mission” when coaching youth soccer should be player retention. While youth soccer may not be right for some kids, for others it just takes a little time to grow. At the end of every season, I have kids on my team who have probably decided they’re not coming back to play another season. But somewhere along the way, they change their minds to come back and have a great season that changes their opinion of the game forever. While I enjoy seeing my teams play well, execute our football plays perfectly and win championships, I get more satisfaction from getting my players to finish the season and come back to play another year of youth football.

There are a few things I like to do in the 60 days after the season ends to change the minds of some of the fence sitters:

The seasonal DVD is always a big hit. I’m doing one that includes funny captions, all of our accomplishments, and we’re setting it to Christian music. You have no idea how often your kids and their families watch those DVDs, several of my parents say their kids basically “wear out” the DVD because they played it so often. Heck watching it can even help kids manage their soccer games better. These DVDs keep the game fresh in the kids’ minds and set you apart from other youth soccer teams he might play for. It can also set you apart from another sport like football or baseball that dreads the fall.

I always sent these DVDs to the kids in December as a Christmas gift along with a letter. In this generic letter for everyone, I answer how much I appreciated the season, the parents and the children. I am also including a personal message about what Christmas means to me and my family. Dave Dimond, a friend of mine from Florida, has been sending personalized letters to his children for some time. He talks about how much he valued the player’s contribution to the team and talks about very specific events and attributes for each player individually. Although this may seem like a long shot, Dave reports that these letters are kept by his children, and some of the children even frame them. This is something I will be doing for each of my players this year and for the foreseeable future.

Most young footballers just need a little encouragement from the public to get excited about the game, and that includes your stars. You never know which child may feel inadequate about their efforts. We all have non-rookie kids that we know will develop into good players in the next year or two. Unfortunately, some of these kids don’t realize that with a year under their belt, they will be a “star” next year. Some of these kids lose interest and drop out of soccer altogether without proper encouragement. If we believe youth soccer teaches life lessons, our goal as coaches should be to keep all kids regardless of ability. I want to keep the stars, the future stars and I will never be a star. Some ignorant people think that these are mutually exclusive, but that is simply not true, you can play with kids, keep kids and also win, even in the most competitive youth soccer leagues. I have done it and many others.

Take the time to do things like this and your retention numbers will increase. Guys like Dave Dimond are guys that kids love to play for, he’s the guy that his current and former players mob at the gas station. He tells me he gets emails that often start like this:

Coach Dimond,

My name is John Smith, my friend Mike Jones has been raving about your youth football team for the past year. He brags about how much fun his boy Jimmy is having playing for you, and how your team went 11-0 last season scoring all those points with that offense John brags about all the time. How do I get my son to sign up for your team? Do you have any seats left?

I also love that the kids take home a team trophy for the week. We then have them bring the trophy to school and give it to a teammate who keeps it for a week and then passes it on to the next player on the list. This keeps your team names fresh in school and in the minds of impressionable young kids, while giving your players something to show off to their family and friends.

If you coach youth soccer and your teams are consistently competitive, you will get emails like this, we all do. Encourage your players and be creative by keeping football fresh in their minds and not only will you get better retention numbers, but you won’t hurt new players either.

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