How to Coach Soccer: Coaching Youth Sports

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

How do you coach youth soccer? Becoming a successful soccer coach takes time, work, patience, an understanding of the game, and a passion for helping players develop.

The most important part of being a soccer coach is helping young athletes become better at their sport on the field and better human beings off the field. As a youth soccer coach it is important to plan training sessions ahead, really get to know the players on a personal level, and see what can be improved every training session.

In this blog I will provide you with tips on how to coach youth soccer including soccer coaching basics as well as the equipment that you will need for a successful learning experience for your students.

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Coaching Soccer Basics

To begin, it is important to go over some soccer coaching fundamentals. The best way to really learn the basics about coaching soccer would be to take a course, such as the free FIFA grassroots soccer coaching course.

This is the introductory course for soccer coaching and after you have done this one you can do more advanced courses to keep the learning process going and learn how to coach higher level players.

Make Soccer Fun

Kids want to get better at their sport, that is true, but the reason they are playing sports in the first place is because they want to have fun. If you are a youth soccer coach it is especially important to make sure the kids are engaged and having fun throughout the entire session by having fun drills and letting them play a lot of small sided games.

Let Youth Players Learn Through Play

As a soccer coach it is important to follow the “play-practice-play” model which simply means you let kids play, then you train the main focus of the training session, then you let the kids play again. Kids learn the most through play and personal experiences and when they get to play, without being over coached, that is when they are able to get the most out of their training sessions.

Drills can be a good way for kids to master the basics of the game, but to truly understand and get better at handling the unpredictability of the beautiful game, players must be playing small sided games and pickup games as much as possible.

Keep Kids Active During the Entire Training Session

Another key part of making practice fun is to keep kids active during the training session. Avoid using drills that have players stand too long in line without touching the ball or being active.

Also having a planned training session will lead to a more optimal use of your time and will lead to a lot less waiting time for players.

Focus on Individual Development, not Team Development

For youth players the most important thing to focus on is player development. Although winning games and tournaments is important, for youth players the most important thing is to make sure they are developing properly to get ready for the adult game.

This means that although you should always want your youth teams to win, it is more important to make sure that the entire team is developing their essential soccer skills such as juggling, dribbling, passing, shooting, first touch, attacking, defending, and understanding the different positions, formations, and tactics of the game.

Ask Questions

The next most important thing for being a great youth soccer coach is to ask a lot of questions. If you really want to get to know your young soccer players you have to ask questions and let them talk.

Avoid over coaching and over talking by choosing effective coaching strategies such as summarizing only the key points, letting kids learn through play, and of course letting the kids talk and express themselves.

Encourage Good Sportsmanship

One of the most important parts of making better athletes on and off the field is by reinforcing good sportsmanship behavior. Always encourage your athletes to be respectful towards their teammates and opponents.

how to coach soccerImage by Alliance Football Club

Soccer Coaching Equipment

Now that you are familiar with the basics of soccer coaching it is very important to have the proper training equipment which includes the following:

how to coach soccer Image by Alliance Football Club

Explain the Rules of the Game

As a coach, especially a youth coach, it is very important to make sure that your players understand the rules of the game. Rules for youth soccer can vary slightly from league to league so it is important to be aware of those changes, but for the most part, all the leagues will have very similar rules.

These are the most important rules for young soccer players to understand.

  • The layout of the soccer field
  • The handball rule
    • Only the goalkeeper can use their hands if they are inside their goalie box
  • The role of fouls and the consequences
  • When the ball goes out of bounds on the sideline it is a throw-in for the team that did not kick the ball out
  • When the ball goes out of bounds on the goalline it is a goal kick or a corner kick, depending on which team kicked the ball out last
  • The offside rule
  • Goal scoring rules

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Good Coaching Tips for a Beginner Soccer Coach?

Some tips for beginner soccer coaches include taking coaching courses to learn more about the job, making soccer fun for the kids, following the play-practice-play method of training, keep kids active during the training session, focus on player development, and ask a lot of questions.

Also having assistant coaches, who are ideally experienced coaches, can help improve the quality of your sessions because that way each student can get more 1 on 1 time with a coach.

How do you make playing soccer fun for young athletes?

To make sure that youth soccer players have fun during soccer season, it is very important to have a variety of fun soccer drills, let them play a lot of small-sided games, and to not have a lot of waiting time between drills or during drills.

Conclusion

In conclusion, coaching youth soccer demands dedication, patience, and a genuine love for the game and for helping players improve.

In this blog we covered everything you need to know about how to coach soccer from basic soccer coaching tips, to the equipment required, as well as the main rules to make sure all players understand.

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