Coaches Code of Conduct

View our NSL Club Standards
Coaches Code of Conduct

NSL wants to ensure that games are fair, positive and enjoyable experiences for all of the children and adults involved.  A soccer game should be friendly and unifying – a spirited social and athletic occasion for players, coaches, referees and spectators.

To clarify expectations of coach conduct, we jointly expect all coaches to conform to this code of conduct.

  • Before, during and after the game, be an example  of dignity, patience and positive spirit.
  • Before a game, introduce yourself to the opposing coach and to the referee.
  • During the game you are responsible for the sportsmanship of your players.  If one of your players is disrespectful, irresponsible or overly aggressive, take the player out of the game at least long enough for him or her to calm down.
  • During the game you are also responsible for the conduct of the parents of your players.  It is imperative to explain acceptable player and parent behavior in a preseason meeting and enforce it during a game if necessary.
  • Encourage them to applaud and cheer for good plays by either team.  Discourage them – and you may need to be forceful and direct – from yelling at players and the referee.
  • During the game, it is permissible to address a referee if done in a calm and reasonable manner.  If you have an issue discuss it with the referee at half time or after the game.  If you have a major complaint, or if you think the referee was unfair, biased, unfit or incompetent, report your opinion to the league.  Your reactions will be taken seriously if they are presented objectively and formally.
  • After the game, thank the referee and ask your players to do the same.
  • Inappropriate language from either team officials or parents has no place in a youth game and will result in immediate expulsion from the field.

We Stress two points:

  1. Referees – especially young and inexperienced ones – are like your players and yourself, in that they need time to develop.  You can play an important role in helping them to improve by letting them concentrate on the game.  You can help by encouraging them, by accepting their inevitable, occasional mistakes and by offering constructive post-game comments.  On the other hand, you could discourage and demoralize the referees by criticizing their decisions, by verbally abusing them and inciting – or even accepting – your own players’ overly aggressive behavior.
  2. Your example is powerful, for better or worse.  If you insist on fair play, if you concentrate on your players’ enjoyment of the game and their overall long-term development, and if you support the referee, your players and their parents will notice.  If you encourage (or allow) your players to play outside the rules, if you’re overly concerned about results, if you criticize the referee harshly, your players and their parents will also notice.

Coaches who don’t follow the expectations described above will be disciplined or removed.

Coach’s Ethics

Conduct at the Game

  • Remain within the technical area
  • Keep your comments positive
  • Do not abuse your players verbally
  • Treat the game officials and opponents with respect

Responsibility for Others

  • If an assistant, manager or parent becomes abusive in any way, and you cannot quiet them, ask them to leave before the referee does. They are all your responsibility from the time you come on to the field until you leave.
  • Explain to parents that the referee is trained in the laws of the game, and is almost always better positioned than a spectator to see what actually happened. Point out that much of refereeing is judgment and that the referee is neutral – parents are not. Let them know that all referees miss calls in every game; three people watching 22 in constant motion over 2 acres cannot see everything.


  • Before inviting a player to try out for or join your team, ask him/her if he/she has signed with or is committed to another club team; if he/she has or is, leave him/her alone. Do not try to exploit technicalities; if the player believes he/she is dedicated to the other team for the seasonal year, that is sufficient.
  • Do not approach, or encourage the approach of, an individual player on another team for the following seasonal year until their team commitment for the current seasonal year has ended. Currently rostered players may not be invited to practice with another team or to club events. Inviting a player to be a guest player for an invitational tournament is acceptable but we advise doing so only with the consent of an official of the player’s current team or club.
  • Tryouts are permissible during the seasonal year as long as no invitation, either oral or written, is addressed individually to a player currently rostered to another NSL team.
  • General public notification (i.e. via print, electronic mail or broadcast media) of a scheduled group tryout while players are still signed with other teams does not constitute tampering. Specific invitation delivered after the end of a team’s final participation for that seasonal year in NSL play – whether seasonal, promotional, post-season tournament games, or in State Cups – also does not violate the tampering rules.
  • Do not hold any tryouts for the next seasonal year until all NSL and State Cup play is over for the previous year. These dates will be posted on the NSL website.

Player Selection

  • Notify each player who tries out for your team of your decision as to him/her. If you are cutting him/her or not picking him/her up, tell him/her why; if you cannot, you did not give him/her a fair look. Try to make a painful experience as productive and helpful as possible. Prompt notification may afford the player opportunities with other teams.
  • Give marginal players an early and honest estimate of their chances of making the following season’s roster and of playing regularly. Give them enough information to make intelligent decisions about their own future. Do not roster a player you do not intend to use regularly, for any reason