I'll be coaching a couple 6U teams in AYSO in the fall and am working on a plan for the little guys. Over the past couple years of coaching I've had a bit of a realization that the biggest benefit of rec soccer at this age is just having the other kids to play with. They don't really get those spontaneous neighborhood games we all wish they did. I didn't even get that, but was lucky enough to play pickup baseball with my friends it was one of the biggest reasons I still love the game. Here's the problem I'm facing. We are always learning as coaches and I made a mistake the first year I was coaching. I came up with a bunch of drills/games and pushed them to the level that my son could handle, which was the same ole story (coach's son). For a results-only approach, it worked. We destroyed every team we came across. At the end of the games, kids smiling, parents happy that they are winners, etc. You get the idea. Problem is, next season a couple players didn't come back. Not just to my team, but to soccer. Next season, same story, two more players didn't come back. Eye opening. And ended up forcing me to read a bunch on early development and how some of the more famous players didn't really have much in the way of the over-coaching that I felt I might be doing. I think it was "Shoeless Soccer" was the book that resonated with me and had me rethinking my entire approach. I'd been focused so much on winning that it was driving kids away from the sport entirely. I think they mostly remembered the difficult practices and not the fun part. Queue last fall season, I ended up really easing up a lot. I still did some drills because some of the kids were asking for them, but sometimes I'd just throw some pinnies out on the pitch and tell them to make teams. They didn't quite understand yet, but next year should be old enough to get the idea. A lot of the parents are going to request to be on the team again this year. A few of the dads on the team are fairly pushy with their sons. One of them was running up and down the sidelines yelling instructions. Always trying to interject his two cents at the end of games to the team. I ended up having a team conversation about how we need to let the kids play and how the less instructions we yell, the more confident they can become. Guess who's kid scored a goal for the first time after heeding that advice? I'm highly considering pushing even further to the idea of free play and just calling our practices "Sandlot Days" or something to that effect where parents bring their kids, the kids walk on the pitch, self-assemble, and go play. Maybe some minimal rules like don't use your hands and stay on the pitch. I'm only there to make sure everything is safe and to give them pointers and encouragement if they need it. I can tell you, the parents are NOT going to understand this. I did this for the beginning of one of our games last year to get warmed up. We arrived early, and the kids all found a ball on their own and started just dribbling all over the pitch haphazardly. Smiles on their faces. It was awesome. No way was I going to change that. I think half of them were even using those cheap bouncy balls. Pushy dad shows up and starts asking "When are we going to start practicing?". I looked back at the kids and back at him. "We are!". Dad: "No I mean drills and stuff". Me: "Nope!". .. Team talk. You get the idea. It's a constant battle to convince parents that you know what you're talking about and to chill and let the kids play. I'm looking for any pointers in getting parents on board. Has anyone had a coach or coached a team that does this? Have you managed to set up pickup games outside of the league?