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Coaching youth soccer is an inspiring and challenging task. As a coach, you should be prepared to deal with overexciting kids and overbearing parents.
As a former player and coach, I played in and used different soccer formations. Let me share with you some best practices to carry that mission.
1. Be a role model. A coach is the soul of his soccer team. Young players look up to you. Parents trust you. A team without a coach looks like a car without a driver. Your confidence, positive attitude, your words and encouragements empower the whole team. I used these ingredients to lead my team as coach.
2. Be informative. Give the right information to all players and parents ahead of time. Explain to your players step by step the content of the coaching session, your expectations and outcomes for the upcoming game. It helps to focus on reaching better results. I usually reminded to my players what is at stake for our team before the training or game.
3. Be proactive. As coach, you will always deal with different issues arising among players, during training sessions, games, etc. I tackled this type of concerns while coaching my team by being proactive. I always brought forth these problems during our team meetings to raise awareness. We found common ground just by talking and sharing about them.
4. Use small groups. During training sessions, small groups of players are easy to manage. It creates a fun spirit of competition between the groups and players. My coaching groups were sometimes named after professional soccer teams like: FC Barca, Milan AC, etc. Players enjoyed them and it was easy to work with youngsters.
5. Shorten coaching sessions. With young soccer players, use short coaching sessions. Not only their endurance is not so strong, but also their attention span wears down quickly. The shorter the coaching session, the better the focus of the youths. For an hour coaching session, I always used with my team an half hour of team training such as drills. The second half was for the game practice.
6. Add fun. Make your coaching sessions with youths a fun experience they will never forget. Add humor and positive jokes. the way you speak can make them laugh. How you show them the drills too. Be careful here. Make sure you do not morally wound one of your players. It will affect the whole team for sure.
7. Involve parents. I used to call a parent meeting before the season begins and share my expectations. Inform parents not to yell to players on the sidelines. Make sure they drop off the players 45 minutes before the training and pick them up right at the end of the session. Involve them to carry tasks around the training sessions and games. They will quickly become your helpers and partners.
Coaching youth soccer can be challenging and fun. You need to stand up as a role model, a flexible and lovable leader. All ears and eyes are on you. So use patience, the right word, smart thinking, fun, and be goal orientated to lead your team to success.
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