Imagine you’re coaching a big game against the undefeated team.
And you’re players are playing great. All the practices and drills have paid off.
You’re team is winning and the parents and players are having a blast.
Sounds fun, right?
The question is… how can you become this kind of a coach?
Why Your Role Is Super Important
You already know, a coach’s role is vital to the players’ experience.
It is a big responsibility, which should not be taken lightly.
If you are an effective coach, you will not only develop a skilled player, but also a skilled person.
Take a breath… coaching can be simplified.
Use the following ten tips to succeed at coaching a youth soccer team.
1. Set Goals
Goals will provide children with a purpose for playing. Short-term goals should support long-term goals. Individual goals should support team goals.
- Teach kids SMART goal-setting. Make goals specific, make them measurable, attainable, and rewarding and include a time-frame to achieve them.
- Brainstorm team goals at the beginning of the season, and develop a list of 5-10 team goals for the season.
- Set short-term team goals each practice that coincide with long-term team goals.
- Encourage players to use SMART goal-setting to set personal goals that support team goals.
- Evaluate team and individual goals periodically, and address what is working and what is not working for the team or individual.
Motivation drives players to achieve their goals—make sure players develop proper motivation for soccer goals.
- Instill a sense of confidence so that players feel that they are able to achieve personal goals.
- Encourage players to try something new to develop autonomy.
- Encourage them to work hard towards their personal and team goals without making players feel pressure to win.
- Reward both making and big play and trying hard during a game.
3. Demonstrate Your Knowledge
Players need to understand why they are learning a skill and how to apply it. Make sure your practices are well-thought out and have a purpose.
- Explain each drill in detail and demonstrate the drill.
- Ask whether the players have questions, and answer them thoroughly.
- Stop players and correct when needed, but make sure to not micromanage each play!
4. Encourage Teamwork
Instill the importance of giving support to and receiving support from teammates.
- Drills that emphasize possession help to develop movement off the ball in to support a teammate.
- Drills that emphasize communication off the ball develop verbal support (turn, time, and man-on).
- Establish a team warm-up and team cool-down routine.
- Outside team activities help to build relationships among players.
5. Develop Character
Each player should understand his or her responsibility to the team, and create an honest culture.
- Value individual talent and make the player feel important in team success.
- Prioritize sportsmanship.
- Reward reliability.
6. Be Consistent and Fair
Establish a coaching style early on, and stick with it.
- Maintain your style of communication no matter what sort of mood you are in.
- Treat each player with the same respect, while understanding each player’s individual needs.
- Re-evaluate the effectiveness of your coaching style periodically, and make minor changes in order to maintain the original style.
7. Earn Respect
Respect is the foundation for a successful player-coach relationship, and this relationship is the basis for success. Perhaps the best way to earn respect is to give it.
- Arrive prepared for practice and games.
- Show a passion for the game, and demonstrate your investment in the team.
- Ask about life outside of soccer.
- Give advice when pointing out a player’s mistake.
8. Communicate Often, and Communicate Well
As a coach, you are responsible for setting team expectations in regards to communication.
- Make expectations known for the season (time to arrive before games, staying in shape, etc.)
- Maintain maturity in all communications with parents of the players and players themselves.
9. Listen to the Players
Communication is not possible unless you listen to the players, and vice versa.
- Convey an understanding persona.
- Make players comfortable enough to voice their wants and needs.
- Set meetings with players individually to discuss progress towards individual goals.
10. Make it Fun!
Fun is the number one reason for playing sports. Understand what makes soccer fun, and monitor the players fun experience often.
- Use friendly-competitions to spice up the mundane practice routine (“Wimbly,” “World Cup,” etc.).
- Games such as “tag,” “capture the flag,” or “red-light green light” can be used as warm-ups to engage players.
- Challenge the team to a season-long competition.
- Make the kids laugh!
The Key Takeaway
A youth soccer coach should always be concerned with well being of the players.
Just in case you missed it. The most important point to keep in mind while coaching is that it should be FUN!
As a coach, you will be laying the foundation for a successful career in soccer. And in life.
So remember, you’re doing a good job when the players are enjoying themselves.
Use these tips to structure your style of coaching, communication, practices, and goals in a way that will foster a fun experience for everyone.
Your Action Plan
Which one of these tips resonates with you?
Do you now realize a mistake you are making as a coach?
How are you going to approach your next practice or game differently?
Let us know in the comments below!