What are the roles in a youth soccer team?

Volunteerism is key in grassroots soccer development in the USA. We always see volunteer coaches trying their best to coach the players, then getting lost in other tasks and finally giving up. The coaches take roles they shouldn’t take and they start handling uniforms and field scheduling. Similarly to assigning players roles on the pitch, the team should assign roles in the operations segment.

To run a quality soccer team, it is vital to have the right setup in order not to burn out. In this article, we will explore the roles in a youth soccer team to improve your chances of success on the field. Sometimes the responsibilities overlap and can be handled by the same person, but if one person handles more than 2-3 responsibilities, it is likely that there they will eventually be overwhelmed and give up.

Coaching Team roles in a youth soccer team

Head Coach

Well, this is obvious. The head coach is responsible for developing and implementing training plans, managing the team on game day, and developing team tactics. They should have experience coaching youth soccer and be able to communicate effectively with everybody else. We write so much about soccer coaches, that we will likely not focus as much in this case. However, keep in mind that the head coach plays a role in each aspect of the team, including scouting and recruiting. Players will decide if they join or not based on the head coach and you can’t outsource that.

Assistant Coaches

Assistant coaches support the head coach and assist with training and game management. Ideally, they should have experience playing or coaching soccer and be passionate about working with young players. We have written about it extensively about the roles of assistant coaches and rightly so. Many new coaches try to work without assistant coaches because they want to make sure they bond with the team. However, not every coach is the right for the right players, so find a balance of different personalities and coaching approaches and it will work.

Goalkeeping Coach

The goalkeeping coach is responsible for developing the skills of the team’s goalkeepers. They should have experience coaching goalkeepers and be able to provide individualized coaching to help each player reach their full potential. This is the only specialized coach for a position, as we don’t really need seperate coaches for defense vs attack. Ideally, these would be additional practices, but if that is not possible, at least get about 20-30% of the practices assigned for dedicated GK practices for your goalkeepers only.

Conditioning Coach

The conditioning coach is responsible for developing the team’s fitness and stamina. They should have experience developing fitness plans for youth athletes and be able to work closely with the head coach to ensure that the team is in peak condition on game day. When the players are younger (U14 and younger) the role is more of a teacher. Some players don’t know how to run properly or have gone through a growth spurt recently. A competent PT or fitness coach can address that properly.

Director of Soccer / Coach Mentor

The director of soccer provides guidance and support to the coaching team. They should have experience coaching youth soccer and be able to offer advice and mentorship to help the team reach its full potential. Very often they are the best scout and recruiter for the club, as they have connections and the credentials to “sell” the club to players and parents. The goal is for the head coach to get unbiased opinions and feedback from somebody that doesn’t know the players but knows the environment, system, and the head coach.

Management team roles in a youth soccer team

Team Manager

The team manager is the counterpart of the head coach on the management team. They will communicate with the other people on the management team and on the coaching team. The team manager should be organized, detail-oriented, and able to communicate effectively with everybody. They are responsible for organizing logistics such as scheduling games, booking fields, and arranging transportation. Finally keeping track on any paperwork, such as registration of players and coaches, as well as any documentation or certification is a responsibility that is often missed and the team manager should handle it.

Parent Communication

Effective communication with parents is essential for a successful youth soccer team. A designated parent liaison should be appointed to keep parents informed about schedules, game results, and team news. Some parents have trouble with keeping up with the schedule, carpooling, uniforms, and gear. Most of the time, the players have nothing to do with that. However, if a talented player doesn’t make it on time or keeps missing something that their parents need to do, then having a dedicated person for it will make it easier for everybody. Furthermore, the player will want to stay on your team and no other team. We also like to share pictures and soccer stories of our players with the other parents to increase the team bond. 

Gear Manager

The gear manager is in charge of ordering and distributing team uniforms, equipment, and supplies. They should be organized and proactive, ensuring that the team has everything they need to perform at their best. This role usually has a spike at the beginning of the season when all players are getting their uniforms. However, there are activities to be done throughout the year when there should be special gear for the games (canopy, bench, field markers, game balls) or when the weather changes and new gear is needed.

Team Captain

This is the only player on the list, and we wrote about the captains extensively. We talked that the team captain changes once a year or more often. That is true for the other roles and it is important to have parents who are willing to pitch in. The captaincy is great to reward and to teach the player at young age. Also, as they get older, the captain will motivate other soccer players to practice harder, by being a role model.

By following these guidelines and structuring your youth soccer team effectively, you can improve your chances of success on the field and provide a positive and enjoyable experience for all involved. Remember, youth soccer is about more than just winning; it’s about building confidence, friendships, and a love of the game that can last a lifetime.