Young players will always copy their heroes on the pitch but sometimes they copy the bad things as well as the good MORE
It infuriates me when players turn up with dirty boots and kit that hasn’t been cleaned. Am I getting wound up about nothing?
I know where you’re coming from with this problem. A clean kit means clean minds and denotes the respect players should have for themselves and their sport. But other coaches will say youth soccer is about players enjoying themselves first and foremost, and everything else is secondary.
I guess this all depends on what sort of coach you are and what the standards are that you expect of your players. We’re all different in that respect and often it comes back to how we’ve been coached when we were young players ourselves.
There are only two hard and fast rules when it comes to appearance. Firstly, treat all players the same. If you’re going to impose a clean kit rule that means, say, players with dirty boots have to start on the bench, then that has to apply even when your star striker turns up with last week’s mud caked around his boots. The other rule is that no matter what condition your players are in, your appearance must be exemplary at all times.
Personally, I’m of the opinion that kids are kids, and in all areas, cutting them a bit of slack is generally smart if you want to get the best out of them. It should also be said that, in terms of clean kit, I’ve had numerous occasions where players have ended up covered in mud just from a pre-match warm-up, so they still start the game looking as if they’ve been rolling around in a swamp.
I guess when you’re playing football, there will always be some things that it’s impossible to avoid – mud being one of them! And turning up with focused mind is far more important.