Being a youth soccer coach is a very difficult task. Not only are you probably dealing with people who don’t know how to play their positions properly but you are also probably dealing with kids who are only there because their parents wanted them to get outside and get some exercise. Especially when kids are a young age it is important to be careful with how you treat them as becoming angry at them or doing something like benching them when they do something wrong could potentially put them off of playing soccer for the duration of their lives. Here are some tips to help you to be a better soccer coach:
One of the most important things you can do in order to keep young players motivated is encourage them and tell them when they do a good job. If they make mistakes it is important to tell them how to fix what they did wrong and tell them that they are still doing a good job regardless so that they are motivated to continue playing and maybe even change their actions the next time they come across the same kind of a situation. Encouraging your team to try their best can really go a long ways and you should also try to encourage the kids to try to encourage their other team mates and to show them themselves when they think that they have areas that they could improve. Communication is a key component in the game of soccer and it is important to make sure that your team utilizes this tool to its full potential.
Besides encouraging your players it is a good idea to get them working together as a team. It is important to make sure that even your shy player’s get comfortable with all of the players on the team and that any disputes you come across get settled as fast as possible. If you can’t get some of your players to solve a dispute, it may be a good idea to get the kid’s parents involved as they will likely have a larger influence on the kid and you can also get to know what kind of influences the kid has on them by meeting their parents.
Prepare for Injuries
One important tip for youth soccer is to make sure that you have some packs of ice and/ or some sort of cold treats with you at all times. Some kids are much more sensitive to pain than others and when you have a lot of kids running around playing soccer it is not uncommon for someone to trip or for someone to get kicked and get a bruise or have some swelling. At least if you have some ice with you it will help to remove some of their pain and in some circumstances it may help to save your ears and keep other children from becoming scared to play, knowing that their coach is there for them if they need. Their child’s safety is also the utmost concern for parents when dropping their kids off for practice.
One thing that a lot of youth coaches do is reward the players on the team when they do good thing. You don’t necessarily have to get them a physical reward each and every time that they do something right. Saying positive words to the players does much more than you think and you can even offer to do something like tell them a joke or let them all shoot you with water guns if you win the championship game. A little reward can go a long way and it really helps to teach kids that hard work does pay off which is a great life lesson that you can have the privilege of teaching them.
One thing you are going to want to do as a youth soccer coach is to make sure that you have a good amount of practices so that you can get everyone to play their positions properly and show them how to properly do things like kick the ball, dribble and pass the ball. Practice does make perfect and the more you practice with your team the better your team is going to get. It is important to remember the level that you are coaching when considering how often you should hold practices because a rep or higher level team should definitely have a lot more practices than that of a local league team.
Give Playing Opportunity
Playing time especially for youth players is extremely important. Playing time should be based on age as well as the level of soccer that you are playing. If you are playing soccer in a competitive league then it may be okay to occasionally bench some players in order to allow you a better chance at winning. If you are in a house league team you should probably try and give everyone pretty even game playing time so that you don’t get any parent complaints and so that no one on your team feels as though they are left out.
Build Shooting Confidence
If you want to improve the quality of the shots on your team this is one drill that really helps. Get all of your kids to line up in a semi-circle and have each of them kick the ball one at a time. This will allow you to see who is kicking the ball improperly and allow you to show these kids individually how to kick the ball. Another thing that you can do so that you can individually see the shots of each kid on the team is to line each kid up at the center of the field and have each of the kids come in and shoot at the goal one at a time. This is a great way for kids to practice their approaches and help to build confidence. It may be a good idea to switch the goalie up or to play in net yourself so that you get a close up view of each of the kid’s shots and so that you can praise them or advise them as you see fit.
Encourage Growth & Learning
Not only is it important to teach kids how to play properly at a young age but it is also good to allow them to be able to experience different positions and it may even be a good idea to force them to change positions every once and a while. Playing different positions at a young age helps to give the players a better understanding as to the importance of each position as well as the difficulties that you may have in each of the positions on the field. It can help the players to get a better grasp for where they should be on the field and it will also allow you to see where everyone plays at their best so that you as a coach can change the line up and make it as productive as possible in order to allow for the greatest chance to be successful.
Remember Whats Really Important…
One final thing that you can teach the kids on your team is that success is not the only thing that matters in life. What really matters is that you have a good time and that you try your best. It is important not to take losses as a negative thing, instead of doing that you should learn from your losses and take from them the things that you need to work on in order to have a better chance of winning the next time around. The ultimate goal of the game isn’t to win, it’s to learn new things and have a good time no matter what number is on the score board.
Hopefully these tips have helped you to get a better grasp of the situations that you might run into as the head of a youth soccer team as well as given you some tips as to what sorts of things you can do to help out the team. It is not easy to run a youth soccer team and you are bound to have a few ups and downs throughout the course of the year whether that be the quality of the gameplay on the field or issues that you have to deal with off of the field. Best of luck with your coaching experience and good luck in your team’s soccer games!