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Contingency Planning

SOCCER CONTINGENCY PLANNING

It is imperative that soccer coaches engage in contingency planning so that they can avoid reacting “on the fly” when something goes wrong. One of the best ways to address contingency planning is to answer a series of “what if” questions. Coaches can’t think of everything or plan for every little possibility, but the following list of questions should stimulate thought. For those items that may be applicable, it is strongly recommended that the answers be developed collegially among coaches, players, and/or parents, written down, and then communicated with everyone as a true Contingency Plan.

Communications

What is the normal process for communicating with your constituents? Is it in place? Does everyone know what it is? If you use an electronic process, what if it goes down?

Do constituents know to contact you immediately if any of their personal information changes?

If you have anything stored electronically, do you have back-ups? What if your devices fail?

What is the emergency process for your constituents to contact you on short notice? What is the emergency process for communicating with your constituents on short notice?

How do you learn if practices or games need to be cancelled due to field conditions? How do you communicate to your constituents if practices or games are cancelled?

What if you are unavailable? How do you appoint a back-up? Who needs to know? Have you appointed a back-up? Does your back-up know all the procedures and contingency plans? Do they have access to all the equipment and documents? Have you communicated with your constituents that your back-up is in charge and for what timeframe?

How do you learn if a practice or game location has to be moved? Do your constituents know the locations of all possible fields?

How do you find out if a player can’t make it to a game at the last minute? Do constituents know to provide information at the earliest possible time? If it is due to a transportation issue, do you have people who can provide service on short notice?

How are you informed of the absence or unavailability of a player in advance? Do your constituents know to inform you as soon as possible?

Players/Practices

If one of your players is injured in practice, who takes care of him? If you are the parent of a player and your child is injured, who is going to take care of them? Who takes over the practice?

What happens if you are injured at practice? Who takes care of you? Who takes over the practice?

What will you do if more than one player is injured at a practice?

Is there a mechanism for accommodating financial hardship of a player? If so, do you know how to apply?

Have you explained the registration process to your assistants or back-ups? Do they have access to all of the forms and information? Do they have all appropriate names and addresses?

What will you do if players have unpaid fees?

Do you know all player eligibility criteria? Have you confirmed that all players meet all of the eligibility criteria? Have you informed all of your constituents of the criteria? Do they know to inform you if there is any change to their player eligibility? How are you informed of any changes to player eligibility rules? What will you do if you find out in mid-season that a player is ineligible?

What will be your response if a particular drill doesn’t work?

What will be your response if tactics or a particular strategy is not being understood by, or working for, your players?

What will be your response if a player is disruptive?, a poor teammate?, a bad fit?, doesn’t get along?, has a sour attitude?, is physically or mentally unable to properly participate?

How will you tailor your responses to the individual personalities of players? Particularly, how will you respond to the way different players react to constructive criticism?

How will you deal constructively with losing?

How will you deal with problem parents?

How will you deal with cuts? How will you inform the player? What will you tell him if he asks why? What will you tell a parent if they ask why or confront you?

Are you and your players properly prepared to handle artificial surfaces, the size of the field, the height of the grass, rain, puddles, wind, mud, dirt infields, rocks, bald patches, cold, heat, referee calls and/or inconsistency, holes/depressions, the slope of the field, snow, square or round surfaces of the uprights and the crossbar of the goals, mist, dew, lights, bright sunshine, and the direction of the sun?

Pre-Game

What if you forget your cell phone or the battery dies? What if you don’t have service?

Do you know what constitutes an unplayable surface? Do you know who makes the decision to cancel a game once the teams are at the field? Do you know who to report to?

Do you know the procedures if you find a game field with no lines, no nets, no flags, or no referees?

Do you have the written list of “local rules” to hand to the referees? Do you have someone associated with the team who could properly officiate?

Do you have properly trained volunteer lines-persons if you are required to provide them? Do you have someone who can perform this function if asked by the referee to do so?

Do you have your player passes? What is the consequence of forgetting them?

Do you have all of your “kits”? Water? First Aid? Balls? Game ball? Backup equipment? Are they all complete? What happens if any of these did not arrive at the field? What will you do if equipment is lost in transit?

How will you respond if a player doesn’t have their uniform, shinguards or shoes?

Do you have all necessary phone numbers and documents? Do you have your original medical treatment authorization forms with you? What if you forgot them?

What happens if you have an insufficient number of players, the game is cancelled or forfeited, and parents or rides have already left?

How will you respond to the field conditions when you find them? This includes artificial surfaces, the size of the field, the height of the grass, rain, puddles, wind, mud, dirt infields, rocks, bald patches, cold, heat, holes/depressions, the slope of the field, snow, square or round surfaces of the uprights and the crossbar of the goals, mist, dew, lights, bright sunshine, and the direction of the sun. How do these affect the coin toss?

How will you respond to a uniform conflict, opponent, goalkeeper, or referees?

Within Game

If you are the parent of a player and your child is injured, who is going to take care of them? If you have to leave the game, who takes over for you? Are they prepared to do so?

How will you respond to the need to treat an injury?

Do you have “911” service? What if you can’t get through? If a player needs to be transported to a hospital due to an injury, who will accompany them? What if a parent or guardian is not present?

What will you do tactically if you have a player ejected? If you have a player ejected and they must leave the premises, who will accompany them?

What will you do tactically if a player receives a yellow card?

How will you respond if bad weather, particularly lightning, occurs after the start of the game?

How will you respond if fighting breaks out? Among players? Among fans?

How will you respond if there is bad referee behavior (e.g., been drinking; changes clothes in public)?

How will you respond if the referee is injured or has a medical emergency?

How will you respond if the opponent has unexpected player/lineup changes that do not conform to your scouting?

How will you respond to a multiple-player event, like a car/van breakdown; or illness (food poisoning)? What will you do if more than one player is injured in a game? Who takes care of the next one(s), in turn?

What if you are incapacitated during a game? Who takes care of you? Who coaches the game?

How will you and your players respond to poor referee calls and/or inconsistency?

Post-Practice/Post-Game

What will you do if a player is not picked up?

What will you do if your car doesn’t start or breaks down?

Extended or Total Absence

What if you encounter a long-term medical condition or your family needs you 100% of the time?  What if you need to leave town for an extended period?  What if you have to leave permanently due to a job change or a move?  What if you are coaching for your child and your child chooses to quit?  Who takes over?

Soccer Coaching Tips

– Create checklists.
– Apply some thought to this concept. The list above is not comprehensive. Ask yourself, “What are all the things that can go wrong?” “If this happens, what will be my response?”
– Delegate. You can’t do it all. Contingency planning requires multiple people to be able to respond to circumstances.
– Remember that some things can’t be controlled or anticipated. You need ready help.
– Instill contingency planning in assistant coaches, players and parents.

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John Harves
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