3 Lessons Coaching Soccer Has Taught Me About Recruiting Volunteers

I went to the meeting with no intentions of being the coach.

When I left the meeting I was the new head coach of my son’s soccer team.

How did this happen?  This little story actually has some lessons for working with and recruiting volunteers.

My 9 year old wanted to play soccer this spring. So like most parents, we signed him up to a community soccer team.  As the season quickly approached my wife and I were wondering when we would hear from the coach.  Days later we got a phone call about a parent meeting happening at our community hall.

We thought, great, this coach is on the ball.  As I was driving to the meeting I thought, if the coach asked for help I should help out.  When I walked into a room with a bunch of other parents I realized that this meeting wasn’t going to go as I expected.

The gentleman leading the meeting wasn’t our coach but the commissioner of the league.  His speech basically said, “Everyone in this league is a volunteer, it is a great league of volunteers and no one has volunteered to coach this team.  If you want we can refund your money or someone can volunteer to coach.”

It got really quiet in the room and everyone was staring at their shoes.  Then some parents started to volunteer to be assistant coaches and managers.  This was great but we still needed a head coach.

I started to ask some questions about the commitment level and what was expected of the head coach.  That is when I noticed everyone looking at me.  I volunteered to be the head coach.

On my drive home I realized that I just witnessed some pretty good lessons on recruiting and working with volunteers.


  1. Be Honest

The soccer commissioner didn’t make threats, he didn’t blame anyone, but he was honest.  It was clear, we needed a head coach in order for there to be a team and they would do everything they could to support/train that coach.

When recruiting as you honest and open with people?

  • Can you tell them exactly what they will be doing?
  • Can you tell them exactly what support they will get from you?
  • Can you tell them exactly what kind of training you will provide for them?

If you answered no to any of those questions you might need to reevaluate how you recruit volunteers.


  1. Its Team Not Top-Down

This commissioner made it very clear.  We are all volunteers trying to create a great soccer season for our kids.

I am not sure if you are paid or a volunteer but I would say you must communicate to your volunteers that you are a team.  You are all working together to introduce your students to Jesus and see them grow in Jesus.

Your volunteers do not work for you, you all work together so your students discover and grow in Jesus.


  1. Deciding as a Team Strengthens a Team

There was something powerful that happened that night.  All of us parents are working together as a strong team.

I believe this happened because we decide who would step up as a group.  Those that couldn’t help out are 100% in our corner because we decided as a team.

Instead of you coming down from the mountaintop and telling volunteers what to do could you decide and plan as a team.  I promise you it will strengthen your team.

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Tyson Howells

Tyson is the associate youth ministry director for Vanguard Youth Ministry Institute. He has been a youth pastor for many years in Winnipeg as well as in Edmonton. Tyson is passionate in seeing relational youth ministry that results in youth that are passionate about following Jesus. He still leads a small group at the youth group in his home church.