How To Become A Good Youth Soccer Coach
"Dictators lead through fear; good coaches do not.” John Wooden
Congratulations! Working with children is a huge privilege. A good Youth Soccer Coach must: (but not limited to)
Always Have a Positive Attitude
I have seen great things coming from sidelines during games in both recreational and competitive leagues, but I also have seen many horrible examples from coaches and parents. How many times have you told yourself you would never allow a certain coach to coach your children? You see, a good coach builds characters as well, not only soccer skills. The youth coach should set the example on the sideline for players and also parents.
You can question a bad call from the referee, but the coach's arguments to the ref need to be respectful. When coaches lose control, it gives parents a green light to also lose control. It's just a bad example for children. Good coaches are all over the place from recreational to competitive leagues, but there are bad coaches as well. A great youth soccer coach can transform the life of a child and a bad coach can be devastating to a child.
Many players quit playing after a bad experience with a coach and that should never happen in the life of a child.
Just because you talk loud and are tough with your players it does not mean they will respect you. In order to gain the respect of players, a coach needs to respect players.
Patience and Dedication
You will see yourself repeating instructions over and over again. This is how it is. Girls are more focused than boys but girls are more sensitive than boys. Boys want to be the best on the team, girls want to be part of the team and they also also want a couple of minutes in practices to talks about "One Direction". :)
Always Do More
A good coach takes the time at practice to show players different techniques on how to correctly kick the ball instead of accepting players to kick with the toe.
Remember: Youth players will never learn the correct way if you don't teach them.
If players kick if the toe repeatedly, this a sign of poor soccer skills. I think a great approach is to not allow players to kick with the toe during practices, but if you just tell them that a toe kick most of the times is a bad idea, you as the coach need to demonstrate why they should not do it at practices.
Now on the other hand, you need to also explain to them that the toe kick may be the only option for a certain moment of the game to score a goal, especially when they are falling down and the only chance of scoring is a toe kick. Remember: Toe kick never in practices, but might be okay during games.
Once a music teacher told me: "We practice countless hours thinking about proper technique, position of hands, arms etc. But when you play in front of an audience you forget about technique and everything you practiced, you just go with the music and play with your heart. Your muscle memory will take care of the rest."
In practices toe kicks are NO'S. This is what I do: After I explain and demonstrate game situations of why toe kick does not work, I start a kind of game that in the event of a toe kick = 5 push-ups. After a while I do the 5 push-ups with the player or sometimes I get the entire team to do push-ups just to loosen them up and make it a fun environment.
Have the Ability to Demonstrate On the Pitch the Do's and Don'ts of the Game
If you are a youth soccer coach and expect your players to know the master technical fundamentals of soccer, you are wrong. Once a coach told me: "This is an All-stars team, they should have master the basics by now". Even though that is true, if you see some players struggling with some basic fundamentals are you going to let it go and ignore the problem?
You see lack of fundamentals on recreational players, club players and even in MLS players! It is your job to correct those issues, so don't ignore them. Your positive attitude as a youth soccer coach will impact your players for the rest of their soccer lives. You are responsible for developing these players and this is a big responsibility. Don't ignore it.
Other Must Haves:
- The ability to demonstrate correct soccer techniques, dribbles and kicks
- The knowledge of different Systems Of Play
- Know what proper physical training to use according to the age group of players you work with
- Know the rules of soccer
- A good amount of good sense to deal with parents and different family models
- A common sense of what team work is
- Be fair to players
- Teach your players how to read the game of soccer
- Respect for referees
- Be a positive model to your players
- Be capable of passing instructions to players in a fun, creative and objective way
- Avoid long speeches before and after games.
- Be critical of your own work
- Winning games are great but you need to understand that player development is much more important than winning at all cost. You have a huge responsibility as a coach. You are also building character.