Youth Soccer Drills – Information for Soccer Coaches
Coaching youth soccer is harder than it looks. It isn’t just about leading kids through the fundamentals of soccer training and some good youth soccer drills. Getting the very young players properly motivated requires an understanding of psychology and good leadership skills.
Planning Ahead and Professionalism
Some people that are new to youth soccer coaching may not think that placing a great deal of emphasis on professionalism is important, since they’re going to be working with children anyway. They may also be under the impression that children find professionals intimidating or boring anyway, and having a more carefree approach to youth soccer coaching is the way to go. The people that embrace that approach will unlearn it just as quickly, because they’ll end up with a lot of awkward silences as they try to improve at the beginning of their practices.
Coaches will need to devise a practice plan and soccer training program in advance. The practice may run in different directions when the players get going, of course, but that doesn’t mean that the plan was useless even if it becomes more of a set of guidelines instead of a set of directions. Young children, in fact, often do recognize authority figures. It’s important that those authority figures act accordingly. Being strict is unnecessary, but conveying some semblance of professionalism is essential.
Soccer Drills and the Placement of the Cones
Soccer coaches are going to use soccer drills that use cones as obstacles. These exercises allow their young players to learn the fundamentals of dribbling soccer balls quickly, avoiding the cones the way that they will have to avoid players on the field during an actual game. Many soccer players take to these exercises fairly readily.
However, some inexperienced soccer coaches make these drills unnecessarily difficult or unpleasant. They will often line up the cones as if it’s traffic school, making the players conduct the drills that way. Drills like these are about as entertaining for the players as traffic school. They will each be taking turns dribbling the ball through the cones during linear drills like these. Meanwhile, the other players will wait for their turn. Soccer coaches will have to keep an eye on the bored and restless stationary players while timing and guiding the player who is currently completing the drill. It’s an unsatisfactory setup.
It makes more sense for soccer coaches to set up the cones to make a series of gates. All the players will participate at once in this drill, and they’ll all be trying to dribble their own soccer balls through as many gates as they can. In that case, the goal is to make sure that the soccer balls don’t touch. Drills like these get all the players on the field at once while keeping everyone engaged and dynamic.
Multiple Soccer Balls
Even if soccer coaches don’t use the aforementioned drills during their practices, it’s still a good idea to bring multiple soccer balls to a practice in some way or another. Far too many soccer coaches just bring one, which is risky at the best of times. Some young players may end up getting the ball lost during the practice, depending upon the location of the practice. Having only one ball limits the possibilities for the practice as well.
Some soccer coaches encourage or require players to bring their own balls, which may be the best solution to the problem. Bringing a few dozen soccer balls to every practice can be tricky, unless the soccer practice is part of an established sports club or gym. Individual players will also be more responsible when it comes to their individual soccer balls, which they know will rightfully belong to their parents.
Punctuality and Tardiness
Coaches, of course, should prioritize being punctual at all costs. The young players will quickly become restless when their coaches are even slightly late, and punctuality is a huge part of professionalism. Of course, tardiness is going to be a problem when it comes to any activity involving large numbers of people, especially parents and children. The kids aren’t going to arrive at the practice on time, and some of them are going to arrive late enough that it becomes a problem.
One of the best ways to motivate kids to show up at the practice on time is to assign chores to the player that shows up last. Someone needs to put away the equipment at the end of every soccer practice, and that responsibility can go to the player that gets there last. This technique will motivate everyone else to show up on time, especially if they’ve ever been in this situation before and want to avoid it. Soon, players that show up seconds late will be the ones doing the chores.
Communication With Players During Soccer Training
Some adults get nervous about talking with large numbers of kids, even if they’re parents or educators themselves. They should try to think back to their own school days, remembering the adults that they found personable and engaging. There are just a few basic rules that adults should keep in mind while coaching youth soccer:
- Big words are going to intimidate most kids. It’s best to avoid them.
- Kids can still recognize when adults are talking down to them or treating them like they’re younger than they are, which can be worse than using big words.
- Adults will have to modify their speech patterns somewhat, but not so much that they’re being condescending.
- Telling a few jokes to break the ice can always help, especially in the beginning.
- Kids like adults that are professional but who still know how to have fun.
- Adults sometimes have to modify what they say in order to explain it on a child’s level. When kids ask seemingly odd questions, in many cases, that’s all they need.