A Guide to Coaching Youth Soccer

You've volunteered to start coaching youth soccer. What's the first thing you should know? Coaching is a lot like parenting. It requires patience, love, and energy. But coaching should also be fun. Kick around these ideas to help guide your practices and performances.

Learn the Rules
If you've never participated in soccer, or even if you've only observed from the sidelines, you will need to learn the official rules of the game. If you're team is part of an organized league, you'll need to know the rules of the league. One of your responsibilities will be to instruct your players about the rules of the game.

Keep Soccer Simple
When explaining the game, it's best to keep it simple. This is especially true for younger kids who are just learning the basics. Using over-the-top terminology will only confuse kids and add frustration to practices.

Arrive Early
As a coach, you need to set a good example and be ready to start practice on time. This means you need to arrive early and retrieve and set up any equipment or youth soccer uniforms necessary prior to practice or a game. Show enthusiasm, and watch it spread to your players.

Develop a Plan
A coach needs a game plan for practice. What goals do you want to accomplish during this particular practice? Do certain skills need to be drilled? Or should you concentrate or team play or individual aptitude.

Determine an objective for each practice session. Then begin the planning process by deciding which warm up activities you'll use, planning which individual, small-, and large-group activities you will focus on. The use of progressions, where you build on skills, works like this:

  • Start with a passing warm up drill.
  • Build on the passing skill, without pressure.
  • Add defensive pressure.
  • Scrimmage with a scaled-down version of the game.
  • Full scrimmage.

Add time for warm down. You will also need to allot time for each of these activities. Without a practice game plan, practice won't make perfect because both you and your players will feel unstructured.

Have Fun
Remember that the goal of youth sports is to teach skills and teamwork while promoting good sportsmanship. Practice and play should be fun and productive. 

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