Coaching Fundamentals of youth soccer,
building skills and techniques
Coaching youth soccer is very rewarding. If handled properly it can have a lifetime of benefits for
youth and coaches alike.
Just the smiles and the laughter are worth it, not to mention that you are shaping minds and
changing lives through youth soccer, hopefully for the better.
Attitudes are important
Attitude is everything, and a positive attitude produces
positive results. Youth Soccer is a sport, and sports are supposed to be fun. Many youth drop out of sports
it stops being fun. Youth soccer is no exception to this "rule". Having fun is contagious. So if you are having fun
as a coach,
so are the players.
Understanding youth at different phases (ages and stages of development) is vitally important.
Youth at certain ages can
only accomplish certain tasks, so you should not implement
adult practices and regimes with them and expect to get
positive results. This makes youth soccer challenging yet rewarding.
Appreciating that all children also develop at different rates
even within an age group, helps you design a program that
will get better results.
When I talk about results it is based on skill, technique and performance. I do not mean winning
every game or competition. Losing is a humbling experience. It teaches youth how to cope with life's ups and downs.
It also shows how to respect themselves as players and people that have tried and maybe
not succeeded all the time...but are still worthwhile in their performances.
Even more importantly is the fact that players are still worthy individuals and they are loved, liked and
respected, win or lose.
When they are in their final years of growth can we really start emphasizing "winning". 16 yeras old and older are
the "competitive" years.
Players develop at different rates
The youth at age eleven (11) may be a "super" player but may not display the same outstanding
performance compared to
the rest of the "Team" at age fifteen (15). Again, players
develop at different rates and everybody catches up
Don't give up on that "player" you don't see performing at a specific level. In fact if you spend more time on you
links in the beginning of their soccer careers it will pay off for many years to come. Soccer can be a life long
For more information, go to these sites;
Long Term Development for Youth Soccer, and
Mental aspects of coaching youth is also understanding
Mental training needs to start early on in the athletes life.
Just as the body needs to be prepared, so does the mind.
This is covered in more detail at In The Zone.
Technical skills development
Less talk, more action is the "motto" of the practice day.
When you have put together your practice plan, you already have a certain type of drill in mind.
Get the players moving
right away. The players didn't come to hear you talk.
They can hear you as you are giving them pointers on the go. The pointers and coaching tips are on the skills and
the techniques that they are doing ... right now... and not 2-3 minutes ago, or last practice.
Make sure your tips are topical, timely and to the point.
This means stay on the topic and don't coach multiple skills
Success to effective coaching is one step at a time.
The players will fill in the rest and probably become very
creative in the process.
Try and use positive phrases, in other words, catch someone doing something good, and praise them
For more great information on drills and skills go to; this site.
Social skills development
Most youth start playing soccer indoors at their homes
with siblings and friends. They will have gone out in the neighbourhood and played street ball and had lots of fun
sweating and competing. They then join teams because their groups are getting larger and their parents want to keep
them active. Very few children will just show up to the field after having never played at one time or another.
These youth will have learnt from each other and their older soccer rivals. They will also have
enjoyed watching other
games and would have tried out new and "cool" moves.
Learning new skills and techniques is exciting and adds to the creativity level for the player.
Praise those who show initiative
in trying something new, even though it might not have been perfect.
Positive talk gets positive responses and the will to do more, a better performance.
Negative talk gets negative responses and the will to do less, even if it is just to avoid criticism. This
therefore relates to a lack of performance. This may sound obvious, but it is amazing to hear the type of
communications that could be improved, if only we took the time to listen to ourselves.
The only other primary influential person in the lives of players other than their parents is
Coaches have enormous responsibilities with respect to development of players and athletes. Many
players will emulate the coach's expectations, philosophies, habits (good and bad), mannerisms, and attitudes.
Quite a responsibility isn't it?
Make sure you are listening to yourself and to others around you. Try and find as many resources
available to you on the role of the coach. Ask your assistant to give you some feedback, because we all sometimes
lose ourselves in the heat of the moment. Don't be affraid to make positive changes for your own benefit.
Ensure that the youth player is also fully versed with your expectations. This is specifically with
respect to their nutritional habits and personal hygiene.
Most people accept rules when laid down before them.
These rules set boundaries and tones to the team.
If all the expectations are presented everybody understands and appreciates their role. If rules are
continually changing and sometimes newly introduced players get a sense of confusion in the manner of their
Expect to grow, expect to improve and set goals in the beginning of the season.
Use a number of evaluation tools to monitor the progress of the individuals and the