Do You Make These 5 Mistakes When You Coach Youth Soccer?

January 17, 2020

We’ve all seen it before.

In the heat of the moment.  There’s just a few minutes left in the game.

And the coach has lost his cool… or worse.

Sometimes without even realizing it.

Let’s look at 5 coaching mistakes that you don’t even know you’re making.

To make sure you’re not that coach.

1. Over-emphasize the importance of winning and create a poor?

Sports are competitive by nature, and, as a coach, it is easy to get wrapped up in the competition.

However, coaches need to remember that they are the adults and should be modeling appropriate behavior for the players.  Being a positive role model is among your most important roles as a youth soccer coach.  And over-emphasizing winning can create poor motivational environments for the children.

When children become too focused on winning, they lose sight of the learning process, begin taking shortcuts (cheating), and often become frustrated or feel a sense of failure if they lose.

Coaching Tips

  • Pay attention to your “motivational talks” and make sure emphasize the importance of the learning process in youth soccer.
  • After a tough loss or a mistake, communicate with the players in a way that helps them learn from the situation and feel confident that they will improve for the future.
  • As the coach, note the common mistakes and address these in drills during practice.

2. Communicate poorly with parents, players, and other coaches?

As a youth soccer coach, you are responsible for managing the team dynamics.

This requires effective communication with not only the players, but also the parents and other coaches.  Parents are inevitably going to have complaints or suggestions, and the only way to be aware of these is to communicate with parents often.

Then, you can make changes as appropriate and avoid hostility (gossip) on the sidelines!

Communication with other coaches is necessary to make sure all are on the same page in regards to values, techniques, and plans for practices and games.

Finally, communication with the players should involve some personable conversation to let the players know you care about their well-being—not just about soccer. Showing that you care can help to become a mentor for the kids, which will likely improve the effectiveness of your coaching because the children will have a greater respect for you!

Coaching Tips

  • Arrive early to practices and games to be available for casual conversations with parents and players.
  • Make a point to communicate with parents as a group once a month, addressing what they like/dislike, what their kids are saying, ideas for the future, etc.
  • Meet with other coaches each week to communicate your ideas and listen to their ideas, and then plan for the week accordingly.
  • Ask the players how their day at school was, what they are doing for holidays, etc. These casual conversations can help you understand if and why the players are moody, etc.

3. Not building team cohesion?

As the coach, you are responsible for creating the best experience possible for the players. Team cohesion (teamwork) will not only improve the team’s performance, but it also will improve the sport experience for children.

Building team cohesion requires setting team goals and designing practices to work towards the team goals.

Coaching Tips

  • Don’t play favorites.
  • Reward players for a variety of reasons (nice pass, good support, attitudes, effort, etc.) in order to balance the “favoritism.”
  • Address the goals of the team each practice, only using individual goals to boosts team goals.  Ask players, “How will your individual goal help the team?”
  • Pay attention to any bullying that may be taking place, as this will demolish team cohesion.

4. Expect kids to only play your sport?

Early sport-specialization is a huge issue in the world of youth sports.

More and more coaches are expecting a child to choose one sport to devote all of their time to only that sport.  This can create a less enjoyable sport experience and, possibly, even make players quit sports altogether.

As a coach, you set the rules for the team, and “playing only soccer” should NOT be one of your rules.

Coaching Tips

  • Encourage players to play a variety of sports, and work with them to create a schedule that allows them to play multiple sports.
  • Understand that youth players may have conflicts during some practices and/or games, and work with their parents to make sure they are receiving an effective soccer experience.

5. Underestimating the responsibilities of a coach?

All too often, youth soccer coaches expect to be able to just show up to practice and games and tell the kids how to dribble through cones, pass a ball, and shoot the ball on goal.

While these technical drills are necessary pieces of coaching youth soccer, there is much more to coaching than teaching soccer skills.

As a coach, you should become a mentor for the players. As a mentor, you should set a good example by showing up on time (early!), having a positive attitude during practice and games, showing respect for referees and opponents, and demonstrating your passion for the game.

Coaching Tips

  • Show up prepared for practice.
  • Drills should be designed to address common mistakes from previous practices and games, but also be flexible and recognize that you may have to come up with a new drill if and when players are not receptive to the original drill.
  • Another important coaching technique is demonstration. Don’t just talk at the players, join in on the drill or scrimmage to make it more fun for the players!

Share with Your Coaching Friends

Sharing is caring.

So please pass this on and share with your coaching friends.

It’s very likely that your coaching friends will thank you!

We all want to become better youth soccer coaches.

Did we miss anything?

Is there a mistake that you see too many coaches making?