Tips On Becoming An Effective Youth Soccer Coach

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Coaching is not an easy task. Some people think that coaching is a bed of roses because it looks really easy. Well, it’s not. There is more to carrying a clipboard during a game and talking to your players about what play to use during a match. The real coaching happens not during the game but during practice.

Coaching requires a lot of skill not only mentally but socially too. Social skills are highly required in all coaching levels especially when it comes to coaching the youth.

Here are some coaching tips and essentials when it comes to coaching at the youth level:

Know the basics

While it is highly required for a coach to know how the game works, it also essential that you remind your team that the game is not about winning but having fun. Make your practice a venue for fun and safe camaraderie. Teach your team to be humble when winning and to be gracious in defeat.

Pick a safe place to practice

When coaching a youth soccer team, parents would most likely want to be involved. It is normal for them to be concerned on where your practice venue is. Pick a venue that is accessible to your players and to their parents. Make sure that all training equipment is working and safe. The last thing you would want is a parent complaining about his or her child being hurt from a huge rock or nail. Aside from that, always be ready with a first aid kit just incase an injury happens during practice. Assure the parents that you have a contingency plan just incase something goes wrong.

Instill the benefits of fitness

Young people often take fitness for granted. They think that since they are still young they can eat whatever they want and get away with it. They can but in the long run it wouldn’t be beneficial to them anymore. As coaches, you need to make them understand why there is a need to be fit. Once they understand the importance of fitness in soccer then they would do it naturally. When they make a mistake do not punish them by letting them run 10 laps or push-ups instead challenge them to do better in their performance.

Use positive positioning

Communicating to your players is essential in all levels when you are a coach. It is mostly critical when you are coaching younger players such as young adults or players in the youth level. You have to be very careful to use positive words when correcting a player’s mistake. Children at this age tend to be very sensitive and easily get upset or discouraged when they are being yelled at. When correcting them you have to make sure that you choose your words wisely, in that way they wouldn’t take it against you or the game. This in result builds character.

Help them mature

Being part of a team instills responsibility. Let each individual feel that they are part of a bigger whole and that they have a responsibility to the team. Give each player assignments such as team secretary to check attendance, someone who can be in charge of uniforms, practice schedules and the like. When they do this they become accountable for their actions and helps them mature. At the same time, teach your players to man up. The real world might not be the same as what they are currently experiencing. They should be ready for whatever comes their way.

These five simple tips can help you become a better soccer coach. Aside from that, you should also remember that you are part of the team and you should also do your part. Doing your part as a coach not only means that you do it while you are with them, but you would also have to do some research off duty. Equip yourself with the knowledge and skills that a coach needs by reading books, attending conferences or joining coach clubs. There are a lot of different books available for you to read and learn how to deal with kids with different personalities.  Joining coach clubs can also help you learn the different strategies that other coaches use on their team. You also get to meet people that you can run to for advice when your team gives you a hard time.

How To Build Teamwork In Soccer

A lot of people think that soccer is won through technical skills alone. Is this true? Take a look at teams that are composed of elite players, what do they have that others don’t?

Aside from ability, talent scouts look at one very important factor, and that is attitude. Scouts want to make sure that the person they are selecting would be able to blend with the team not destroy the team’s dynamics. After watching a potential player play, these scouts will do a lot of research by talking to parents, coaches and teammates. They want the person that they choose not to  have a hard time fitting in and adjusting to the team.

Here are some tips to make sure that your players do not put “I” in teamwork.

1.            Encourage participation

Having your players present not only during the game but in regular practice sessions builds teamwork. This is also how you get to know how committed they are to the success of the team based on their attendance during practice. It is during practice sessions where you cans tart building camaraderie and feel the chemistry of the team. Encourage your players to spend an hour or two a day, three times a week to practice and get to know his or her teammates. Meeting and strategizing via Skype, FaceTime or any social networking site is a no-no when it comes to sports. It is important to be physically and mentally present during practice.

2.            Bond off the Field

Aside from regular practice sessions it is also essential to bond off the field. These bonding moments help break the ice and help players get to know each other. Schedule a pizza and beer night with the team if you are guys while watching your favorite soccer team. For the girls,  you can plan a slumber party or even carbo-load together before a big game. Make it a rule to hide or get rid of gadgets during your bonding moments for you guys to really bond and get to know each other.

Aside from eating out, another way to bond would be to go on an excursion trip together. This would help you get to know your teammates especially when you are all out in the wild.

3.            Do teambuilding activities

During your bonding off the field sessions, try to incorporate teambuilding activities or games that would encourage participation and social skills. Try doing paintball, hiking, computer games or laser tag that would let you test how competitive your players are. There is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. If you know how each player acts, then you would be able to use that when you put him or her on the field.

4.            Vary your drills

Having the same drills every practice bores your players and when they get bored, they lack interest and then they might not show up anymore. Change your drills every now and then during practice. If one player is already good at a certain position or skill, then let them swap with another player who is equally good at his or her own position. Since each player goes through all positions,they would know how to rely on one another which in result builds teamwork.

Try to also incorporate team exercises or team workouts during your practice sessions. One example would be have one player do laps while the other one is dribbling and two other players doing a passing and receiving exercise. When the player doing laps is done he proceeds and does another drill or exercise while the one who was dribbling does laps. One of the two players who were doing the passing and receiving exercise moves on to dribbling while a new player partners with the one left in the passing and receiving exercise. The goal is no one advances to the next work out round until the first one finishes.

5.            Have a one on one session with your players 

The best way for you to get to know your players is to talk to them individually. Schedule a one on one session with each player at least once or twice a month. Talk to them about your plans for the team as well as the plans that they have for their soccer career. This is how you would know who is truly committed and who plans to take their career to the next level.

How To Ace Your Game

Every coach’s dream is to enhance the development of his team. This is their main objective before and after every match. However, just like any professional athlete, training does not happen overnight. It takes passion, hard work, discipline and determination. Here are some tips on how to help your players ace their next soccer game:

* Understand the benefits of running

Some coaches just let their players do five to ten laps without checking on their progress. Sure, one can run every day at the same pace but what good does that do to your players? How do they benefit out of that? As coaches or players even, it is important to monitor your players speed. How else can you make your player run faster in a game if you don’t make them run faster? Challenge your team and make them understand the benefits of speed in a soccer game.

* Make running creative

Now that you understand the benefits of running, and your players are running the tendency is they might become bored and eventually slack off. Some coaches usually start their daily practice with five to ten laps around the oval and then proceed with practice. Try to spice up your warm up by varying your running drills. This can be done by including sprints and tempo runs to increase your team’s endurance. Another way would be to include soccer drills in your run, let your players dribble or do passing and receiving drills while doing laps. In this way,  they are not just increasing their endurance and speed, but they also get to practice on their soccer skills.

 * Emphasize on conditioning

Some players think that as long as they know how to dribble, pass and receive the ball then they are good to go. What most of them take for granted is the importance of conditioning. The skills that they learned such as passing, dribbling, receiving and trapping the ball will stay with them forever but conditioning won’t. The moment they take endurance for granted would be the start of their down fall. * Never underestimate speed

An average skilled soccer team with very high endurance will have a strong advantage over a team that’s highly skilled and slow. The ability to change direction quickly and run fast is very critical in a soccer team. It is the great equalizer.

* Have your players work on their core

Though some might think that working on your core and abs is a girly thing, well it is not! Soccer is not just a game of speed but also a game of balance. Knowing how to tackle your opponent and not fall when you are being tackled is crucial not just for the game but for your self-esteem. You wouldn’t want to fall every time someone steals the ball from you, right? Let your team do some abdominal exercises to develop a strong mid-section. In that way,  they will be able to control their movements when they play. * Add ballistic exercises to your practice

Ballistic training is a combination of speed and strength. They usually involve throwing, jumping or striking against a certain force. One of the most famous ballistic training exercises is plyometric such as hopscotch or even jump rope. These exercises make you work on speed and agility like jumping every time the rope is about to hit the ground and making sure that you are quick enough to not trip on the rope when it is about to turn. Jump rope is a very simple exercise performed by a lot of athletes and even professional boxers around the globe. These are just few tips to help increase the speed and improve the endurance of your team. Always remember to educate them on the importance of conditioning. When you are teaching a soccer league especially, teenagers or young adults who plan to become professional soccer players they usually get bored when you don’t do drills. They sometimes do not understand why conditioning training has to be done every week or two to three months before the actual season. As a coach, you have to make them see the big picture and as to how conditioning will benefit them in the long run.

How To Teach Fun Defensive Soccer Drills

The primary objective of almost all defenders is to prevent the opposition from scoring a goal. Although the defense’s final objective is keeping the ball out, its primary job is to get the ball in their custody as swiftly as they can. This is because if they do not have the ball with them, the opposition’s offense will find it impossible to get the ball into the goalpost.

A defender has two approaches that he can adopt; one is to win the opponent’s ball; get the ball to give adequate space and deal with the football while the opposition hits. If the defense fails to catch or tackle the ball, then the defender’s center of attention should move on to put a stop to the infiltration that the players on offence might use to create opportunities to scoring.

Most defenses use a four-kid back arrangement that employs a precinct defense to take care of three kids on the attacking position and defend open area. As the attack gets more aggressive, the likelihood of the midfielder trying to slow down and support the defensive position increases. Hypothetically, offenses could compensate by the game of numbers by moving forward more kids to the fore. However, this may result in them facing a higher possibility of an attack from the opposition.

These four defending players are the halfbacks. Out of them, two players positioned at back called the outside backs and two as the center backs. Some teams like it better to position the center backs, where the player positioned on top is the stopper and the one next to the goalkeeper is called as a sweeper. The players positioned at the back have the role of maintaining the ball possession and winning the football from the opposition whenever the opportunity arises. That kid who has the ball’s possession is seen as the most dangerous player and is therefore watched over in view of that.  The second most risky opponent is the one in the best position to obtain a pass and score a goal. As the offensive teams moves the ball from side to side, the defense will accordingly take turns, ensuring that they cover the ball from the second attacking kid.

If a player on the offense breaks in the first streak of defense, it then becomes the sweeper’s responsibility to prevent the shot. Mostly, it’s the sweeper’s position that ensures safety in the game. The sweeper’s job is to relieve the pressure upon the goalie by hitting a tricky shot.

So in the following paragraphs, we will discuss some of the basic things about different ways to defend in soccer. These skills are even more important if the players are playing in defense. However, players playing in various other positions can gain from these as well.

Surrounding the opponent – When surrounding an opponent the kids need to lower the center of their gravity by first bending their knees and then inclining forward. They may also shift ground if the opponent begins to move to one side. They should never run straight at their opponent as they’ll make it pretty simple for the opponent to get around you. Instead, teach your players to stay patient and let the opponent make the first move.

The second skill is called the slab tackle and is great for winning the ball from your opponent while keeping their own balance. A slab tackle is carried out by the player when he first fences his non-kicking foot in a spot that will allow him to maintain good balance.

Then, as soon as the opponent gets in touch with the ball, your player needs to promptly put his kicking foot in the direction in which the opponent is moving. If your players are able to do this tackle with resolve and full attention, their opponents will not get even a single chance against them.

Punch tackle is the way that lets a player tackle by simply stabbing the ball away from the opponent. But, do caution your players to always remember to use his or her foot that is rather closer to the ball. If they don’t do that, they’ll not be able to always get the possession of the ball as this technique is a little dicey.

Then there is the surface tackle which is very effective but can be very unsafe if the players don’t really understand what they are doing. The players should use it as their last tackling option. For instance, if they feel that it’s extremely difficult to reach the ball by using a punch or slab tackle, they may use a slab tackle. Even though this seems to be a very simple tackle to perform, you should still have equal respect for it.

Being a successful defender requires a lot more than what we just discussed above. There are some other things also that you will have to include in player’s training and practice regimen in order to master the skills of ball handling, soccer formations and advanced strategic measures. All these things will come naturally to your players as long as they can keep their focus on developing their game.

Some Defensive Soccer Drills

A strong defense is the most important part of any soccer team. Without a strong defense the team will not be able to achieve much success. Your team may be able to score many goals, but if they can’t stop their opponents from dodging them and getting into their territory to hit goals, they’ll be in trouble. The drills mentioned below should be incorporated by every youth soccer coach as regular practice of these defensive drills will definitely improve every soccer teams’ skills in defense.

Though there are many effective and advanced defensive drills, the two most common soccer drills to include in your training programs are as follows;

Group Defense: This drill involves several features that happen in live soccer matches and situations that require the kids to play together as a team. Determination and teaching control is the most important task of performing group defense.

To set up the drill, the coach needs to separate the kids into two parts; blue and red team as defenders and attackers respectively. The red team should have 2 more players than the blue team. Each kid in the attacking position should have one ball each. One may use cones to create a rectangle as shown in the image below.

The thing to remember while performing this defensive drill is that the team which will be defending (the red team) should all squeeze inside the box which will make it difficult for the attackers to find passing alternatives.

Begin the drill with blue team playing as defenders while the red team as the attackers. The red team should make an effort to retain the possession of the ball by aggressively searching for free space inside the rectangle; where as the blue team should attempt to mark as many players as possible. Of course, 2 kids will always remain unmarked.


The main intention of performing this drill for the players is to practice defense and counter attacks; to teach them the way in which they can create a counter attack. This drill will train them in getting the ball’s possession from the attackers and indirectly teach them their roles, positions and responsibilities.

To set up this drill, you need to divide your players into two parts; one being the attackers and the other being the defenders. Also decide upon whether you want to play with 3 or 4-line defense. Attackers will play in groups of three and their mission will be to deal with their defenders and conclude with a shoot at the goal.

Attackers in the ball position shall start performing the drill and they will start dribbling through the defense and score goals. There should be four defenders and one goalkeeper and the attackers should try to find their way through the defense in order to score goals without losing ball position. Make sure the defenders are able to get ball position at all costs in an attempt to stop the attackers from scoring big shots.

Soccer Nutrition – What Players Should Eat

Deciding on the right nutrition and healthy eating to fuel young soccer player’s workouts and improve their performance on the field can be quite a challenge. But you can simplify the role of diet and nutrition in a player’s performance by breaking it down into segments. There are some basic principles when it comes to diet and they apply to just about every player. For example; what and when your players eat and drink before, after and during exercise, training, practice sessions and live tournaments is essential for building stamina and allowing them adequate recovery. A coach should have a complete and thorough knowledge about when and what to eat after players have finished their workouts for optimal recovery.

Talent is not the only ingredient that makes a sports person an icon. It also depends heavily on whether they are getting adequate nutrition. Like most soccer superstars celebrity coaches, if you too long for the feeling of thousands of fans screaming your player’s name when they are about to hit the winning shot, you need to be extremely disciplined with your kids from the very start to experience that.

Nutrition for soccer players is different from nutrition for an average kid because with players need more nutrients to keep their energy levels up throughout their training sessions. They have to perform strenuous activities and therefore lose a lot of fluids during their game. Dehydration being one of the greatest problems in the sports world, when players get tired and thirsty, it affects their performance, making life a lot more difficult to live. Drinking enough water and eating a balanced diet to get the right nutrition will help your player’s body to utilize energy well and also stimulate top performance. This is why water is the most important factor in sports nutrition as it makes up about seventy percent of an individual’s body weight.

Since our bodies cannot produce and store water, you should make it a point that players replace all fluids that get eliminated while they exercise, or else they’ll have to suffer being over heated and dehydrated. For players, there are various sports drinks that have ingredients and salts for stamina and staying power for longer events.

Another important aspect of soccer nutrition is that your player’s diet should be based on different factors ranging from their age, size, physical built and the level of soccer that they play. But before you chart out your player’s diet chart, you should first consult a certified doctor for advice about their diet and nourishment. You lose a lot of fluids every time you exercise.  For players, eating a balanced diet that has the right combination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins gives players more energy for a consistent performance. These nutrients help a player’s body to perform strenuous exercises with improved stamina and less exhaustion thus improving their confidence.

Carbohydrates provide about sixty to seventy percent of a player’s calories and are the most important fuel source. Carbohydrates are found in almost all foods. For example; fruits, vegetables, cereals, pastas, rice and breads are some of the many food items rich in carbohydrates. So you, the coach and parents should let the kids know the value of a balanced diet that includes high amounts of carbohydrates and the various foods that supply them to their bodies.

Our body converts sugar and starches from carbohydrates into glucose, which is the most important source of energy in the body. This glucose gets stored in our liver and muscles and to some extent in the bloodstream giving our body a pool of energy. When kids participate in a match, their body uses this stored energy to perform. So if the player’s bodies, particularly their muscles lack glycogen, the body will not be able to produce enough energy for the muscles to function properly. This will affect player’s performance along with increasing the risks of soft tissue injuries. So, the more the amount of carbohydrates in your player’s diet, the more energy they will have to give out and least will be the chances of an injury.

It’s your responsibility to make sure that kids don’t attend trainings or even play matches on an empty stomach. Your players should never starve prior to any training session or any match because if they do so, the body will start utilizing its stored glycogen. Players therefore need to keep filling in its glycogen reservoir with nutritious foods at regular intervals. In no condition should you allow kids to fast before a big game or replace foods with high energy drinks filled with nothing but sugar. Nutrition is crucial not only to a player’s coolest performance on the field but it’s also a necessity for his or her overall well being.

If players do not eat foods that have enough carbohydrates, they can also get good amount of energy form fats and proteins. Protein is found in dairy products, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, nuts and beans to name a few. Proteins are used by the body in tissue and muscle building and provide about fifteen to twenty percent of our daily calorie consumption.

When it comes to soccer, it goes without saying that coaches need to teach players the correct conditioning techniques as it is an energy intensive sport and players need to be in excellent physical shape to be successful in it. But they must also give equal importance to the knowledge of proper nutrition. Good nutrition for young soccer players calls for them to develop good eating habits before, during and following training. As discussed above, players especially need to have ample stores of carbohydrates and keep refilling the lost fluids. This is the reason that sports nutrition, food supplements, diet and sports drinks are becoming increasingly methodical and are being given due consideration in soccer as well.

Some of the salient factors why nutrition is important for young players have been explained by nutritionists or similar expert advisors. Soccer requires a lot of exercise and food strengthens our body, our mind and all other organs. The amount of energy in a player’s body depends mostly on his or her level of blood sugar in the body.

Though it is necessary to eat a full meal, one should teach players to stay away from over eating because if they over-eat, they’ll gain weight more than their ideal weight. Their stamina and the ability to accelerate quickly will reduce as the muscles will have to work harder consuming more energy to do the regular exercises. So if players don’t eat a proper diet, they’ll feel weak with their overall health declining, because of lack of enough nutrients. Moreover, a nutritious diet will help players recover from injuries more quickly, build good stamina and perk up their agility together with a fitness training program.

Along with what your players eat, timing of their meals is also important. For instance; in the morning of the match date they should eat only a limited amount of fatty foods and foods rich in protein, as these need a longer time to digest. Also, you should plan their pre-match meal at least 3 hours prior to the match and it should not be very high on fat, high in carbohydrate, low in protein and light on the system to digest. So include toast with jam or bread with honey, bananas and orange juice, breakfast cereal with low fat milk, sandwiches, energy bars, pasta or rice in your player’s diet on their crucial days.

A coach can try out different combinations of healthy foods for different events and training sessions. Have the players eat toast, sweetened cereal with low fat milk, fruits such as bananas or grapes to see how their bodies respond to different foods.

When the players are performing cool down exercises, give them sports drinks and fruits like a banana or grapes. Though the importance of a well balanced nutritive diet cannot be undermined, never underestimate the value that the full time treats have in a player’s learning phase. After the match is over, treat your players with their favorite food as a reward for competing in or winning a match. Think beyond the usual sandwiches and a cup of tea at half time, because food and nutrition is a huge part of soccer players lives, even for the younger players. So encourage them to eat & play well, and have fun while doing that!