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What Everybody Ought to Know About Coaching Youth Soccer – The Top 5 Factors For Fun and Success!
I believe there are 5 key factors that contribute to having fun, and even being successful, when it comes to practicing and playing the game of soccer.
Make it fun for the kids
The first and most important factor is to make it fun for the kids. If you can make them happy, they will come to practice with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. That sets the stage for teaching the fundamentals of soccer.
The basic fundamentals of football are the second most important thing. This should be done at an early age. By teaching children the basics at an early age, they take this foundation with them for future learning. Like anything else, building a house, putting together a project plan for Information Technology system projects, or learning the game of soccer. A strong foundation is the key to success.
Plan your practice sessions
The third factor is being prepared and having a plan for each practice session. Each practice session should focus on a particular subject. Maybe today we will learn to dribble the ball with the inside of each foot, controlling the ball and keeping it close to our feet and not leaving it too far in front of us. Ball control is a key factor in learning the game of soccer. You can make this teaching exercise fun by having the players dribble around the objects, each other, being a race with control, etc. The focus however should be on keeping the ball close, using both feet, and having fun while doing these exercises. . Each practice session should have a theme, or, an expected outcome of what you are trying to accomplish in that session. Other items to work on are passing, shooting, trap, etc. Also, at a very young age, like 6 – 8, you should keep the practices short. Young players do not have the ability to stay focused for a very long period of time.
Organize your team, support for parents
The fourth factor is to have the support and understanding of the parents. You need to give at the beginning of each season what your parents’ expectations are going to be and discuss with them. Parents need to understand that you, and only you, will teach the players how to play the game. There will be no emphasis on winning. The focus will be on learning the fundamentals of the game. If the players do so, the victory is right there.
Parents also need to know that only the coach should provide positive feedback to the players both during practice and on game day. Parents must show positive support for their child and the other children on the team, but at no time should any parent shout instructions to their child during practice or game day. Players can only follow one teacher, and that is the coach. I remember like it was yesterday, I had a girl in one of my Under 8 teams come off the field at half time crying and I didn’t know what was wrong. I did not see that she was hurt or injured. So I asked her why she was crying. She said, my mom and dad yell at me to do one thing, and you tell me to do another thing. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to disobey my parents. Well, you can bet when the game was over, we had a parent meeting to prevent this from ever happening. Also, at no time should any parent be negative towards players on our team, an opposing team, or adult game officials.
I coached youth soccer for 12 years. During this time I have seen many different styles of coaching. I also met many people who are football experts. Coaching youth soccer is not a mystical science. Many of my teams went undefeated winning numerous age group league championships both indoor and outdoor. They have won soccer tournaments locally and travel to other states such as the prestigious Soccer Hall of Fame Summer Tournament in Oneonta, NY. I also had 3 teams that were crowned EPYSA State Champions, 1 outdoor and 2 indoor.
That being said, you always wonder if you’ve done the right things when it comes to teaching kids how to play. I recently had the opportunity to attend a Super Liga match at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC between DC United and Atlante, Mexico. Watching both teams warm up before the game, I was amazed to see both teams using warm up drills that I used with my teams 4 years ago. Those types of things help to confirm the fact that you have done the right things in training your children how to play the game.
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