10 Youth Soccer Coaching Tips
Learning these 10 youth soccer coaching tips will lead to a successful season. So you've graciously volunteered to coach your son's soccer team this fall, giving your time and energy to make a few kids' first weeks back at school a little more bearable. The only problem is, your soccer coach knowledge couldn't fill a bottle cap. Don't worry, with these 10 youth soccer coaching tips and a truckload of patience, nobody will know that you know as much about soccer as you know about astrophysics.
- Get to know the kids. First and foremost, especially if you're coaching girls, is to memorize everyone's first name. Kids feel small and unimportant in the world of adults, and knowing everyone's name and maybe a little about them is a great way to build trust right off the bat. Make sure you tell them a little about yourself too, bonus points if you can make them laugh.
- Meet the parents. These folks trust you with their children, make sure you at least introduce yourself to them. If the parents feel comfortable with you, you're less likely to have conflict with them, and they'll help make sure their kids behave as well.
- Learn the rules. Get a rule book from your soccer club or association and learn it. At the first practice, go over the rules the kids and parents need to know. If your association requires a certain style of shoes or shin guards, make sure you communicate that to your players and their parents. That way, nobody has to sit out the first game because they weren't properly equipped.
- Tools of the trade. Get yourself a dry erase clipboard and a stack of small cones if these weren't provided to you by the soccer club. Diagram your drill so the kids can see it, and then use the cones to lay out drills on the field.
- Keep them busy. Kids get bored easily, don't spend a lot of time talking, focus on doing. Explain what you want them to do once, then make corrections as the drill or game progresses. This allows you to coach the specific skills to the specific kids that need it, without giving their minds time to wander.
- Focus on the basics. You're not coaching the national team here, odds are that some or many of the kids on your team still need to work on the basics. Complex drills and game plans only confuse and waste time. Ball control, agility, passing, and shooting are the core skills of the game.
- Keep it fun. Trying to get a kid to work hard or get better at something that she doesn't want to do is like trying to push an earthworm back down its hole. Some things are more fun than others, but the game or practice as a whole must be a fun experience. Letting the kids play a scrimmage game or some other game of their choosing that will work on soccer skills for the last 10 minutes of practice will help ensure that they go home happy.
- Don't leave anyone out. This sounds like a no-brainer, but the truth is that some kids are better than others. Coach to your players' strengths as much as possible, but make sure everyone gets a turn at every position. If you're worried about having the kid with three left feet play goalkeeper, have your best player help him out as a defender.
- Focus on improvement. You probably won't have a bunch of superstars right off the bat, so work on team improvement. If your players learn something new, or improve an existing skill, your practice or game is a success.
- Remember, it's just a game. Coaches do not need to be champion yellers. Be firm, clear, confident, and fair with your players, and don't ever take it too seriously and never lose your patience. Your job is not to win every game, it's to guide a handful of youngsters through what should be an enjoyable experience. The best indication of a good game isn't the score, it's the number of smiles.