Philosophically, youth soccer programs, especially for younger ages should have the focus of the game that is fun rather then a game that is to be won. There will be plenty of time for competition in years to follow. When you coach youth soccer and your new to the game, you should keep a few things in mind.
- You should try to balance playing time among players. Game time is playtime for young soccer players.
- Your job as coach should be one of observing and smiling with minor course corrections made at halftime. Most of your time should be spent encouraging.
- Be a positive role model to your team. After all, they really did come out and join your team to have fun.
- Use practice for teaching and leave the games to the players.
Sounds like a tall order doesn’t it? It probably doesn’t remind you of coaching that you experienced growing up with at all. I believe to coach youth soccer you must think like a teacher, because soccer requires the player to do more than participate, they are asked to think on his or her own. Yes, think independently and think as a team. This is called tactics, and it takes years of coaching soccer to understand and develop it in a soccer player.
Knowing how to coach youth soccer requires certain qualities in a coach. They are knowledge of the game, the ability to communicate that knowledge to the player and the ability to observe so that you can correct and coach to improve play. All correction should be done in a positive manner.
I’m not talking about style of coaching soccer, because that is based on your personality. What I’m talking about is the qualities you possess of leadership, discipline, understanding, motivation and communications. To become this super coach and to be effective coaching youth soccer it will be helpful if you understand some of the characteristics of the young players you will be coaching. (Up to U10)
- Wants to play and have fun
- Needs approval from parents, family and coach
- Has a short attention span
- They are generally emotional when receiving input
- Depth perception is lacking at younger ages
- Coordination varies widely within the age group
- Girls are more advanced physically
- There is limited interaction with more than one or two friends at a time
- Some of your players will know who won or lost but most do not care
In conclusion, I’d like to remind you in order to coach youth soccer you need the following; knowledge of the game, the ability to communicate knowledge to the players, and the ability to observe and correct. Oh yes! The players need to play and have fun.