When I first started as a soccer coach, I had a lot of questions going through my head. Even though I played soccer at various levels, I realized there were still many unanswered questions. I didn’t remember what my coaches wore when I played. To be honest, I never thought about it until I needed to. Once I started coaching, I didn’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.
Soccer coaches wear several outfits, depending on the setting. During practice, it is common for coaches to wear athletic clothing (gym shorts or pants, t-shirts, cleats). During games, they may wear polo shirts and khaki shorts or you will be given a coaches’ shirt to wear.
Coaching younger teams is more lenient and relaxed. But as you progress up the ranks and coach more competitive leagues, the expectations can change. Organizations differ. Some have a predetermined dress code for coaches.
To learn more about what coaches wear, keep reading!
Why Is Practice Different From the Game?
During practice, a coach demonstrates to his or her players how to run drills and techniques. This is the time you teach new skills and reinforce old ones. You can stop a drill or scrimmage as a mistake occurs and corrected it real-time. Many coaches wear cleats during practice. When I demonstrate how to pass the ball or perform an attacking move, I find it easier to do with athletic clothing than wearing more formal clothing. I don’t want to be running around in a collared shirt and slacks. If you find yourself more comfortable in another outfit, feel free to try it out.
Games require a bit more presentation for several reasons. When you dress differently than the rest of the sideline, players and referees know where you are all the time. This isn’t as important in practice since the coach is the only one on the field. Other teams, parents and referees aren’t present. Players can easily identify you since there are less distractions. However, you don’t want to blend in during game day. A coach is in charge and needs to be visible to their players. Some coaches wear a yellow or blue polo shirt to stand out.
A major difference between practice and the game is your involvement as a coach. Soccer is considered a “player’s game”. Coaches have limited impact, particularly during a game. In most cases, coaches must stay off the field during game play. Therefore, adjustments must be made on the sideline or during half-time. You don’t have the liberty to adjust player real-time like they do in practice.
Appearance is another reason to dress up for the game. Parents and fans will have their opinion of you as well regardless if you asked for it. It’s easier to demand respect from others when you walk out onto the pitch looking the part. This is no different than when you go into the office to work. Usually there is an expected level of attire. When you deviate from that, people judge you subconsciously.
Why Do Some Professional Coaches Wear Suits?
Mainly it’s tradition. Professional soccer or football coaches play on the largest stage. Many people in the corporate world use to go to work in a suit. This is still true of leaders in many industries. Politicians, CEOs, attorneys wear suits. Sports are no different. The coach is the head honcho of the team. Suits command authority. All the players wear a uniform, the coach just happens to wear a more formal one. However, there is no written FIFA rules on what has to be wore by the coaches.
If you follow professional soccer closely, many coaches are less formal in their attire. When soccer first started, suits were more prevalent in the work place and it likely shifted over. I wouldn’t be shocked if fans used to watch soccer in suits and ties. Everything was formal back in the day. It was the way the world was back when modern soccer started in the mid 1800s.
As with the rest of the Western world, casual is becoming more commonplace, and it seems to be going into all levels of the working world. CEOs in Silicon Valley start-ups wear t-shirts and sneakers. NFL coaches are mandated to wear their team’s gear. In contrast, the NBA coaches still wear suits and ties to every game.
If left to their choices, my guess is coaches are more comfortable in other clothing. Even though a soccer coach or manager isn’t very active on the sidelines. For example, Jürgen Klopp is one of the best soccer managers in the world. He is often seen in athletic gear. The new generation of coaches and managers will likely have a different stance on old traditions. Time will tell.
On the contrary, some might make the argument that you can wear the same clothing as you would during practice, and you have no issues. I intuitively know appearance matters. At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with yourself and the image you present to others. In today’s world, you can likely wear whatever you would like as long as it is appropriate for a youth sporting event.
While this article might not leave you with all the answers, here are a few more tips if you are entirely unsure of where to go and would like some more specific advice.
- Go to a few local games in your area. See what coaches are wearing.
- Reach out to your club and ask what is commonplace.
- Join Facebook groups to connect with other coaches around the country and world. Social media is a powerful tool to get your questions answered. The level of access we know have is unparallel. Hundreds if not thousands of youth coaches are online now looking to help.
- Search or ask Quora.com. Quora is a question and answer website where questions are asked, answered, and edited by Internet users, many of whom are experts in their field. It is similar to Wikipedia for curious question askers.
- Enroll in a coaching course whether it is US Soccer or a local level. Once you are surrounded by eager coaches, this is a great place to ask questions in a safe environment. Most of participants are coaches in your area.