11 Coaching Keys to Develop Stronger & Better Youth Soccer Teams
As a youth soccer coach for the past 6 years, I’ve tried different methods and ways to develop great teams. From my experience, these 11 coaching keys will help you develop your youth soccer team into a “winning machine.” All great youth soccer teams share the same attributes. They are: Tough, Unselfish, Motivated, Competitive and Confident. This guide will help you reign in your focus on 11 keys to get the best out of you as a coach, and your players as a team.
Whether you believe it or not, your team’s attitude toward training and playing begins with you. You should be passionate about the development of each and every player. Your reward is watching your team develop and succeed. If you don’t care about each player on your team, the rest of the steps are pointless. If, you are a coach that cares about your players, the beautiful game, the team, the philosophy of your club and you’re not coaching to collect a paycheck, this article is for you.
2. Encourage aggressive play.
There’s nothing more frustrating as a coach than watching your players get pushed around and be bullied on the soccer field. Encourage aggressive, strong play at all times. In your coaching points, emphasize proper stance, using your body strength to be strong on the ball and take possession.
3. Reward unselfishness
Sharing the ball and possession are key to produce great teams. Teams that are unselfish trust one another. Trust is key in building great youth soccer teams. As a coach you must praise and encourage unselfishness. It doesn’t really matter if the extra pass was necessary at the time. This can be corrected later.
4. Accept failure, but never accept less than their best.
Failure is inevitable for all youth teams. Accept failure at first, and lots of it. I’m not referring to losing, failure is not losing. Failure is poor effort. Learn to distinguish between losing and failure. Losing doesn’t matter when your players are giving it all they have. Winning is inevitable.
5. Show them how to use failure as motivation to get better.
Let them know, no matter the disappointment; failure is never finality. There’s always another opportunity, another practice, another game, another tournament. Use these failures as growth and let them fuel your future success. Remind them of the times they almost had it and they will know what they have to give to get it.
6. Let them know you believe in their ability. Even when they don’t.
Greatness is within reach. How hard will they work to get it? Trust their talent and your ability to nurture and develop it in each of your players. Remind them of the times they were tired, sweaty, and out of gas. Then remind them of when they dug deep within themselves and found the fire to carry on.
7. Use training drills that maximize the amount of touches each player gets on the ball.
Use training games and drills that maximize each players touches on the ball. Let’s say that every 10,000 touches each player gains a +1 attribute. Eventually, they will each be confident enough to take on the world. The end goal is a team in which each player is extremely confident with a ball at their feet. When this happens, it’s game over for everyone else.
8. Encourage team camaraderie.
Fundraising works well. Sleepovers work better. Hopefully you have a parent on your team willing to host such an event. It will pay dividends for team chemistry and respect. No sleepovers? That’s ok too. Trips to the water park, theme park, pool, arcade also work well. Start planning a BBQ after the next practice session.
9. Play them where they want to play.
“We want each kid to be well versed in a variety of positions.” Well, everyone does. Sometimes, it just isn’t feasible or possible. I’ve listened to this argument over and over from coaches. The truth is if you have players playing where they don’t want to play, you have an unhappy and ineffective team. Don’t be that coach! Play the kids where they want to play.
10. Create competition within the team.
There are literally hundreds of competitive practice games you can play where there’s a winner. I try to incorporate this into every training session. Healthy competition amongst your team creates respect amongst the players.
11. Respect each of your players and their value to the team.
Arguably the most important key in this article is respect. To earn respect you must give respect to each of your players. If they don’t respect you as a coach you will undoubtedly face lots of failure. Each child brings something special to your team. Respect it. Being a jerk is not respecting your players. I don’t mean you should allow your players to run over you, goof off or not give their best. You draw that line about what is acceptable on your team and what isn’t. Do it with mutual respect and love in your words and actions. I wish you the best of luck.