Being a great youth soccer coach is not rocket science. You can do it, but you might need a bit of help to get off on the right foot. I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years as a coach. Most of them weren’t fatal, but having a good understanding of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them will help you have much more fun as you develop your own winning team of soccer studs.
5 Coaching Mistakes You Must Avoid:
Mistake #1 – The No Fun Coach
Members of the media call the NFL the «No Fun League» because the commissioner has outlawed
the celebrations and other things that really make the game entertaining. Unfortunately, the same
can be said of the majority of youth soccer coaches. Remember whom you are coaching.
Remember their age and think about how kids this age see things. Put yourself in their shoes if you can and always ask yourself «Would I have enjoyed this when I was a kid?» I’ll give you a key hint here…Kids want to have fun playing soccer. They enjoy the game more when they get to touch the ball A LOT! They don’t want to stand in line.
Mistake #2 – The Survivor Coach
The basic premise of the hit show Survivor is that a group of people are left on a deserted island to fend for themselves. They are given a couple of items when they arrive, but are not allowed to bring anything with them. I have witnessed numerous coaches that come to practice with that same philosophy.
They hardly bring any equipment with them at all. Fortunately, you don’t need a ton of gear to run a quality soccer practice. With that said, having the right equipment can make all the difference between a losing team and one that gets better every single week. There are certain must-have items in your kit that so that you can go quickly from drill to drill and keep your players motivated and attentive. Be sure to bring plenty of balls and cones to every practice and things will run much more smoothly.
Mistake #3 – The Cool Hand Luke Coach
One of my favorite movie lines is from Cool Hand Luke where Strother Martin says, «What we have here is a failure to communicate.» Most coaches and parents have this same problem. Establishing a clear line of communication with your soccer parents can be the difference between a fun-filled season of soccer and a descent into the depths of hell. Soccer moms and dads can be your strongest advocates or worst nightmare. If you set up a good phone & email system ahead of time, you can bet that coaching your team will take less time, be less frustrating and be much more productive!
Mistake #4 – The Drill Sergeant Coach
Most of the drills that you find in coaching books take way too long to setup, don’t hold your kids interest and have your players standing around too much of the time. Good drills should feel more
like games to your kids. Your team shouldn’t spend all of their time waiting in line to kick the ball.
They should be actively involved in the drills, get lots of touches and be on the fast track to becoming better players. Look for drills that involve most of your players at the same time. Look for drills that minimize standing in line and maximize time with the ball at your players feet.
Mistake #5 – The Nutty Professor Coach
I am constantly amazed at the coaches I see that just show up with a bunch of balls, some orange
cones and NO plan. They either forget what they were going to do, or don’t have any idea in the first place.
In order to get the most out of your weekly practices, you need a solid plan for each practice. Ever see a coach who’s team is running around all out of control? If you don’t have a plan for your team, they will quickly develop a plan for you. Players should move from drill to drill and spend the majority of their time actually playing soccer. Designing a good practice plan can take a lot of time, but it is worth it.
Make sure that your players get a good warm up, individual skill time, group skill time & group game time in each and every practice.
What kind of coach do you want to be? A frustrated, pulling your hair out babysitter? Or a fun-loving coach that is developing awesome soccer players on a weekly basis?
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