“A player left training crying after a hard tackle from a team mate and stayed away for two weeks. How can I integrate him back into the team?”
It’s unfortunate there was a two-week break, but getting the player back on the horse, so to speak, is really important, and this is a small incident that shouldn’t interrupt his enjoyment or future development.
I think it would be good for the player in question to know there are no hard feelings, which I certainly imagine is the case. It can be that he feels embarrassed that he cried in front of the other player.
Why not bring together the two players involved in the challenge so they can have some ‘clear the air’ talks, if necessary. You’ll need to oversee the chat, and ensure they shake hands at the end of it.
You could also try putting them together on the same team in training as I often find this helps bond the players again and gets them talking to each other.
I always find humour is a good way to take the sting out of any awkward situation, so maybe make a reference to even the best soccer players in the world shedding a tear because of their art (Paul Gascoigne, Ronaldo and John Terry spring to mind, for starters).
What you mustn’t do is make a big deal out of it, so conclude their chat and press on with the training session without saying another word about it.
From time to time the kids we oversee will surprise us. They’ll do things which make them seem every bit the adult in waiting, yet at other times their actions remind us that they are minors, and sometimes need to be treated with kid gloves.
Try this team game Handball Overlaps from my digital magazine Soccer Coach Weekly to get your players bonding again as a team.