I like to have players come 15 minutes early to the first practice where I host a players-only meeting with the coaches. My overarching goal is to start to establish my team’s culture. As a part of that I want them to get to know me and each other. Here’s a typical agenda:
- Names – Go around and have the players introduce themselves. You can have them mention what school they go, how long they’ve been playing soccer, what their favorite position is, and always end with a silly story or fun fact about themselves. Feel free to help them out (but not completely let them off the hook) with the last one. I always have coaches go first to prime the pump
- Name game – See who remembered everybody’s name. Keep at it until you have 3-4 volunteers. By that time someone has heard the names enough to get it right
- Goals for season – Explain your goals. I always like: 1) to get better every week and 2) have fun. Those are both things under their control
- Pick a team name
- Finish up with a brief explanation of what you value (i.e. your team culture).
For a bit of inspiration, I really like this video.