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Coaches Perspective



Dear VSA Community,

As we transition into summer, I would like to start this perspective with a special shout out to our players. Vermont Soccer Association hopes that this is a very special soccer season for you. Not only will your coach teach you skills of the game, but they will also help you to become better teammates, set goals for yourself and make responsible choices on and off the field of play.


Soccer is a fun game, and hopefully one that makes you excited to share your experiences with your parents, your brothers and sisters, and your friends. Sharing stories and ideas helps you learn a lot about who you are and what you want to gain from your soccer season. You will be able to tell others what they can do to help you before, during and after the game. Soccer is many things, and we hope that you will grow this season in your skills and your abilities as good teammates.


Have a good time and remember to always try your best.


Enjoy your season,


John Curtis, Director of Coaching


How Should I Treat the Referees?


In sport, part of the game is accepting the umpire’s call, no matter how hard that might be. Sometimes the calls go your way, and sometimes they don’t.” Dr. Dot Richardson, Olympic Gold Medalist, Softball


Referees provide structure and guidance in a competitive situation. These individuals are giving of their time to enable you to play the game. Referees try their best in sometimes difficult situations.


Some questions you can ask yourself.


Is it easy to be a referee?


What things make it difficult to be a referee?


How do I feel about referees?


How should referees be treated?


And then, one of the most important ones:

Does my answer always stay the same? Or do I tend to have different reactions in different games and why?


It’s always a good exercise to try and walk in another person’s shoes to gain a new perspective. There are valuable teaching moments for coaches or parents to have with players. Here is a scenario:


The game you are playing has a tied score. The referee just called a foul on one of your teammates and you feel it is a bad call. Discuss how you should behave.


What things can help you remember how you should behave?


Responsible Coaching Principle: Honoring the Game


Responsible Coaches conduct themselves by a code, which Positive Coaching Alliance calls “Honoring the Game.” To remember components of this code, remind yourself and your players that Honoring the Game means respecting the sport’s ROOTS, where ROOTS stands for Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and Self.


This aspect of Responsible Coaching lets you lead by example. When your players and their parents see you keep your temper in check, for example, at a critical moment when an official misses a call, they are more likely to check their own tempers. Granted, this is not easy! It is important in stressful game situations for Responsible Coaches to have and practice a self-control routine.


Later, you can use the experience as a teachable moment with your players: “I was pretty upset with what happened, but I controlled myself so I wouldn’t do anything that would dishonor the game. And that’s an important lesson I want you to learn from sports -- how to develop your own self-control so you will always Honor the Game no matter what.”


Do you think there is an effective way to approach an official after a bad call? You may be able to ask, “Can you tell me what you saw on that last play?” By staying calm, keeping your voice low, giving the official plenty of space and asking what s/he saw (rather than undermining the accuracy of the call), you’ll have the best chance of having a constructive interaction with the official.


Because today’s youth sports environment can so often be volatile, and even violent, it is important to prevent any outraged coach, player, or parent from boiling over.


Introducing “Honoring the Game” to Your Team


As a fellow coach, I encourage you to let your players know that you want to coach a team that Honors the Game. Honoring the Game means that your team will have respect for the ROOTS of the game:

1.) RULES — We refuse to bend/break the rules to win.

2.) OPPONENTS — We value and recognize that a worthy opponent brings out our best, and we take a “fierce and friendly” attitude into competition.

3.) OFFICIALS — We respect officials even when we disagree with them.

4.) TEAMMATES — We never do anything to embarrass our team (on or off the field).

5.) SELF — We live up to our standards of Honoring the Game, even when others don’t.


During Training Sessions


Just as we develop activities for improving physical skills, we must create situations in training where players learn how to Honor the Game. For example, during a practice game, coaches can make a bad call on purpose to see how players react. If they react in a way that is consistent with Honoring the Game, praise them. If they don’t, use that moment to discuss how you want them to respond in a game situation (e.g., not letting the questionable call throw them out of their rhythm). You might also consider having your players officiate during practice games to appreciate the difficulty of officiating.



Referees:  A Simple Gesture that Goes a Long Way


How Coaches can Build Rapport with Game Officials

Steve Mariucci (nicknamed "Mooch") (@SteveMariucci) is an American sportscaster primarily for NFL Network. Before that, he was head coach of two different NFL teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions. Mariucci also coached collegiately for the University of California Golden Bears.

In this video, provided through PCA's national partnership with USA Football, Mariucci talks about the importance of relationships between coaches, players, and officials in football. He acknowledges that being an official is a tough job and is respectful of their calls because he wants to be a role model for his players by keeping his composure and professionalism.




 USSF_LogoUS Soccer Grassroots Coaching Education

Professional development is key to our growth as coaches, for those interested in upcoming coaching education opportunities, courses are added throughout the year. If you're interested in engaging in coaching education, I would recommend reaching out to your club’s Director of Coaching or myself. I’ve included a link below to the Vermont Soccer Coaching Course page where you can find more information. Member clubs of Vermont Soccer interested in hosting a course for your coaches can also reach out to me at

Current course offerings:


Interested in coaching development, but unsure where to start? This free introductory module, which represents the first step in the newly revised coaching license pathway, is now the general starting point of the licensing pathway and it is the required prerequisite to undergo any of U.S. Soccer's Grassroots Licensing Courses. Coaches who complete the module will also be provided with four complimentary Play-Practice-Play training sessions.


The module takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.




 United_Soccer_CoachesUnited Soccer Coaches Coaching Education


Goalkeeping Level 1

The overall objective of the Goalkeeping Level 1 Diploma is to explore some of the myths and mystiques surrounding the goalkeeping function. The six-hour course is directed towards the team coach – not the specialist goalkeeper coach. The object is to empower coaches with knowledge and practice methods that will enable them to evaluate a goalkeeper in game situations and then design appropriate practice programs for goalkeepers in and outside of team practices. The course includes lecture (theory) and field (practical) sessions. (Friday, August 5: 5:00 – 8:00pm & Saturday, August 6: 9:00 – 3:00pm)

Time Commitment: 6 hours

Cost: $100

Testing: No

Prerequisites: None

Location: South Burlington High School


Goalkeeping Level 2

The overall objective of the Goalkeeping Level 2 Diploma is to create an optimal learning environment for this specialized position. The 9-hour course is geared towards the specialist goalkeeping coach and the team coach looking for more in-depth information surrounding the coaching of goalkeepers. The course includes both lecture (theory) and field (practical) sessions. A United Soccer Coaches Goalkeeping Level I Diploma is a prerequisite for this course. (Saturday, August 6 3:15 – 5:15pm & Sunday, August 7 9:00 – 4:00pm)

Time Commitment: 9 hours

Cost: $150

Testing: No

Prerequisites: Goalkeeping Level 1

Location: South Burlington High School


*If you register for both courses the cost is $200.










Vermont ODP players are preparing to compete in the East Region ODP Tournament in Lancaster, Massachusetts June 10-12, 2022. Good luck to all the players that will represent Vermont Youth Soccer Association.


To find out more about Vermont ODP 2022-2023 and how to participate in the upcoming cycle click here.


You can reach out to John Curtis at or 802-497-8587.


Thanks again to all our players, parents, coaches and referees for all you do to make Vermont Soccer so great. We hope you’ve all had a great start to the Spring season!  Remember, we are here to support you in any way we can.


- John

John Curtis, Vermont Soccer Director of Coaching – US Soccer A license, youth coach, high school coach, college coach, coaching instructor, and parent.

​Director of Coaching John will provide the Vermont Soccer Community with his perspective monthly on important events, ideas and initiatives that impact players, parents, coaches and families (current and past).