Here are 10 tips for youth soccer coaching that can help you manage your team. While youth soccer is competitive, a coach should make sure young players are also having fun. Many players still do not understand how to play the game the right way when they are young, so remember to be patient as they develop.
- Decide how many days to practice each week. Some parents who sign their kids up for soccer may not realize how much practice time is involved at the youth level. You may want to have a team parent meeting, to find out the consensus on the amount of days to practice.
- Make sure each player has the proper soccer gear. If a child does not have the right type of shin pads or cleats, contact their parents to give them some tips on what you recommend. You can also discuss how their child is performing during the conversation.
- Use soccer drills to determine the starting players. Have the players perform a variety of dribbling, passing and defensive drills during practice. Players who have the best ball control or are the fastest may be good candidates for the starting lineup.
- Make sure each child plays at least half of the game. Regardless of who starts and who comes off the bench, all of the players must see some action. Some youth soccer leagues even have a rule that all players must be on the field for a minimum of one-half of the game.
- Give everyone a chance on offense. Most young players do not want to play defense the entire time, so give them a chance to take some shots on offense. If you have a solid squad, tell the strong offensive players to play some defense after you have a big lead.
- Let each player try goalkeeping. While some of the players may be reluctant to take a turn in goal, give them a few minutes trying the position. If your team has a big lead during a game, that is a good time to rotate some players at goalie.
- Teach good sportsmanship. If a player is having issues controlling their temper during a game, substitute them off the field and talk to them during a dead ball. Do not simply pull them off and sit them on the bench for the rest of the game.
- Try not to run up the score on a weaker team. While sometimes this is hard to do, tell your players to back off once they have an insurmountable lead. This is the time to play the strong offensive players on defense, to give everyone a chance to play up top.
- Never criticize players during a game. This is also difficult at times, especially in a close game, however there are ways to get players to do what they are supposed to without screaming and yelling. Talk with the players once the game is over, to instruct them on how to correct what they did wrong.
- Always meet with your team after a game. Even if it is only for a minute, whether the team wins or loses make sure you thank them for playing hard. Also remind the players the day and time of the next game or practice.
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