Seven must-dos for matchday
Saturday and Sunday mornings can be a joy – and a challenge. If you've ever spent them managing your own emotions, a tense team or prickly parents, then these top tips could help.
1. Act respectfully
Everyone has the right to safe, fun and inclusive football experiences.
While matchday can be intense, it's important not to let heightened emotion have a negative impact. Instead, use respectful behaviour to set a positive tone.
Some simple actions include:
- greeting every player
- thanking parents and carers
- shaking hands with your opposition and match officials (if possible).
2. Uphold match officials' decisions
In grassroots football, many referees and their assistants are under 18, which means they're actually classed as children. While ranting over a missed foul or a 'definite' penalty might blow off some steam, it can have a damaging impact – especially for young people.
You might not always agree with them, but upholding an official's decision is part of being a good role model for your team.
3. Keep substitutes involved
Here’s how to keep players engaged while they wait for their time to shine.
- Discuss what’s happening on the pitch.
- Ask them to 'be the coach' and help their teammates.
- Keep them active. For example, set up a nearby training area where they can practice skills they'll need in the game.
Keeping substitutes involved, and prioritising equal playing time, creates a positive environment – both on and off the pitch.
4. Use respect barriers
Whether you're a player, a parent, a volunteer or a spectator, Respect barriers are incredibly useful. They're a physical reminder of what is – and isn't – acceptable behaviour. They also provide a degree of space for the game to occur without interference. This reduces pressure on both the teams and the officials.
5. Leave facilities tidy
This is an extension of acting respectfully – and it's a habit you can build with your team. After your match, make time to:
- collect litter
- gather or dismantle equipment
- clean your changing room.
These small actions can leave a big impression. Following their 2018 World Cup defeat to Belgium, Japan made the news when they left their changing room spotless – and included a thank you note to boot.
6. Create consistent routines
When children know what's going to happen – and when – it helps them feel safe. In fact, we can all benefit from a consistent routine, so here are some basic steps for matchday.
Ensure everyone knows when to arrive and when the game will end.
Use the same warm-up each week, but ask different players to lead.
Allocate a specific area to store belongings, such as kit and drinks.
7. Make matchday an extension of training
Whether you're leading a session or coaching the match of your life, you need to stick to your philosophy. In the heat of the moment, it can be easy to lose sight of your goals. But if you've worked on something all week in training, don't let the pressure of competition throw you off.
Matchday is an opportunity for your players to have fun and continue learning. So why not set in-game challenges that support your sessions?
Want to know more about how to build a positive matchday? Check out The FA Playmaker course – For All and for free.
Article image courtesy of Alex Pantling/Getty Images Sport via Getty Images.