Coach’s Code of Conduct

Soccer is the players’ game. Coaches bear responsibility for teaching their players to strive for success while playing fairly, observing the Laws of the Game at the highest level of sportsmanship.

  1. Coaches shall treat officials with respect and dignity, and shall teach their players to do the same.
  2. Our opponents are worthy of being treated with respect. Coaches will model such respect for opponents and expect their players to do likewise.
  3. In both victory and defeat, the behavior of a coach shall model grace, dignity, and composure. Coaches have a responsibility to promote the interests of soccer, with courtesy, honesty, and respect.
  4. Coaches shall model inclusive behavior, actively supporting cultural diversity while opposing all types of discrimination, including, but not limited to, racism and sexism, at all levels of soccer.
  5. Coaches are responsible for taking an active role in education about, and prevention and treatment of drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse, both in their own lives and in the lives of their players.
  6. Coaches shall refrain from all manner of personal abuse and harassment of others, whether verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual, and shall oppose such abuse and harassment at all levels of soccer.
  7. Coaches shall respect the declared affiliations of all players, and shall adhere to all guidelines and regulations on recruiting established by the governing bodies having oversight of their teams and leagues.
  8. Coaches shall seek to honor those who uphold the highest standards and principles of soccer and shall use appropriate protocol to oppose and eliminate all behavior that brings disrepute to the sport – violence, abuse, dishonesty, disrespect and violations of the Laws of the Game and rules governing competition.

NSL Coaches Code of Conduct

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

We Stress two points:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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

  1. Coaches and officials from the club that are on the same sideline as the players are expected to dress appropriately and professionally with club designated apparel.
  2. Coaches and team officials are expected to fully support the leagues’ vision and overall expectations of player and team development.
  3. 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. If an assistant, manager, or parent becomes abusive in any way, and you cannot quiet them, ask them to leave before the official does. They are your responsibility from the time you come on to the field until you leave the field of play.
  4. Explain to parents that the official is trained in the laws of the game, and is almost always better positioned than a spectator to see what happened. Point out that much of refereeing is judgment and that the official is neutral – parents are not.
  5. Before, during and after the game, be an example of dignity, patience, and positive spirit.
  6. Before a game, introduce yourself to the opposing coach and to the referee.
  7. 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. 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.
  8. If you have a major complaint with a referee, think the referee was unfair, biased, unfit, or incompetent, report your opinion to the league utilizing our referee appraisal form. Your comments will be taken seriously if they are presented objectively and formally.
  9. After the game, thank the referee and ask your players to do the same.
  10. Inappropriate language from either team officials or parents has no place in a youth game and will result in immediate expulsion from the field.

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


  1. NSL rosters will be frozen as of the first day of play each season until the end of the season. For 9U players through 15U this will be from the start of the fall season through the end of the spring. 16U players and above rosters are frozen from the start of the spring season. Players may be added during the season if they are not previously rostered to an NSL team.
  2. A player previously rostered on an NSL team may be added to a roster if he/she has been released by their club. According to USSF guidelines, a Club must release a player if requested. The Executive Director or President must approve all player transfers to another Club.
  3. Coaches are not allowed to contact, or encourage the contact, of any players from another NSL club during regular season play.
  4. Coaches shall 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Player Evaluation and ID Clinics are permissible during the seasonal year, BUT no invitation, either oral or written, should be addressed individually to a player currently rostered to another NSL team. Public notification (i.e. via print, electronic mail, or broadcast media) of a scheduled group event does not constitute tampering.
  7. 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.
  8. If, a player initiates contact with a coach during regular season play, the coach must ask the player if they are committed to another NSL club. If so, then the player will be asked to inform their current club of their intent to try-out for another club before any further action may be taken. Players may not be invited to attend training sessions as a “guest” while playing for another NSL club. Players currently rostered on an NSL team may not be invited to practice with another team or attend club events. The League expectation is that Clubs will communicate clearly and honorably through this process.
  9. Inviting a player to be a guest player for an invitational tournament outside of the NSL season playing dates is only acceptable with the consent of an official of the player’s current team or club, otherwise it shall be considered tampering.
  10. The transmission of any proprietary Club information by a coach including the rosters of any teams or personal details of a player is prohibited and subject to discipline.
  11. NSL clubs are not allowed to acquire teams from another club within the NSL to bring into their own organization. Club mergers do not fall into this category.
  12. NSL clubs will adopt a 12 month non-compete rule for any current NSL coach that leaves one NSL club to be then employed by another. For a period of 12 months, the newly appointed coach cannot be named as a head coach or assistant coach and work in the same age of her/his previous teams. The non-compete rule will be waived if there is prior permission from the former club. The non-compete rule may be waived at the discretion of and with the written approval of the NSL league based on mitigating circumstances which could include the coach taking a position at a club that is located with a minimum of 30 miles outside of the current region.
  13. Open tryout dates for the next seasonal year will be posted on the NSL website and will generally occur after all NSL fixtures and State Cups are completed.
  14. The NSL reserves the right to review and overrule the points above if they feel that a club or coach has been found to exhibit behavior that does not uphold the ethics and expectations of the league or feel it would be of benefit to the league and its constituents.

If an NSL member is alleged to be in violation of these ethics or exhibits other behavior not listed above but that could be considered unethical and to the detriment of the league and its members they will be required to stand before the NSL Ethics Committee. The Committee will be made up of at least 3 and no more than 5 members unrelated to the Club involved. Any coach, manager or club official who is found to be guilty of breaching the code of ethics may be suspended from participation in all NSL activities for the current and subsequent season of play.