Remember back to the youngest time in your life when you began to play soccer and think about why you ever kicked that ball. Why did you? It was fun! Enjoyment and fun are somethings that in the heat of competition and on the field for practice is often lost. We have to start going back to the basics and make sure this game we love is still fun, because if it is not then the kids shouldn’t be playing.
It’s a coach’s job, to ensure this, but when we sign the contract it is not in the job description. Any coach that has the kid quit and then asked why…, “It’s not fun anymore.” The dreaded answer no coach wants to hear. It is easy to believe that the kids has lost interest in all the fun everyone is having trying to get ready for the next game, but it is more realistic to believe that the coach did not keep the game fun.
Youth soccer is a time where coaches must ensure 70-80% of the game is fun. Coaches must remember some key points to remember to teach youth soccer.
Make the game FUN (It’s why we started to begin with).
T-E-A-M. The idea of team and teamwork makes for success.
Listen & Learn
Never give up.
Making the game fun can be easy through being creative. Proper planning will allow you to teach the valuable skills needed but also let you plan how to make it fun. Be creative and make games that are new, but still reinforce the skills needed to be practiced.
Teamwork is a must need in soccer and can be taught once again through proper planning. Plan games that work on skills, are fun, and teach teamwork. Youth soccer players may not be able to perform many skills with the accuracy you would want, but the kids can learn the value of teamwork. Teams without a good understanding of teamwork do not succeed as well as those that do. An easy drill to do is a kick and celebrate, kids kick a goal and the team celebrates together as a team.
Listening is a hard item for youth soccer, but if coaches know how to gather there attention it can be done. Line players up to watch and make it short for each drill. Attention spans are low and kids need short 2-3 minute instruction and demonstration before being active and performing the skill. Drawn out speeches do not teach anything because the kids only listen for a couple minutes.
Never give up is a big one for youth soccer. When things go bad for a minute or a kid makes a mistake they are quick to quite. Put kids in come back situations, such as they have been passed and have to catch up, don’t sit there and watch the other team take a shot on goal, get back and disrupt.
If you add the fun and enjoyment back to practice as a coach, it will pay off in the end. Plan to make practice fun and watch the growth and dedication you will receive from the players. Youth soccer is not easy to coach, lots of distractions with kids, but very rewarding when you can get a group of kids to come together, play the best game in the world and most of all, have fun.