“Kids’ football (soccer) is all about the individual loving the game: dribbling and shooting, playing games and scoring goals, experimenting and copying. It is very simple and lots of fun.
Adult football is all about the team and results. It is physical, tactical, complicated and very serious.”
Tom Statham of Manchester United Academy
It may be that the most important ‘key’ to successful youth soccer coaching is:
To always and constantly aim to make training sessions a joy for everyone – including you!
This can only be done with the aid of careful and thorough planning.
Care about what your team has to achieve in the long term as well as in the short term (today). Always have a plan.
It is important to take the age and capabilities of your children into account when planning your training sessions. However, most youth soccer coaching sessions pattern like this:
Warm ups and muscle stretching - to raise the heart rate and get the focus of your youth for the upcoming training session;
Explanation and demonstration of what they are going to learn and why they are learning it;
Fun games that will allow them to transfer the learned matter into practice. In this case, go for small sided games since they are better than 6 or 7 a side. Be prepared to let them do their thing when applying this specific training format. Try to finish the session without your intervention during the play;
Dos and Don’ts in Youth Soccer Coaching
Don’t overwhelm them – remember to allow time for discussion, setting up, drinks, and so on;
Don’t stick to a plan that apparently isn’t working in your favor. Have tried and tested alternatives.
Don’t use dull drills that involve kids standing in lines for more than a few seconds – with their span of attention, they’ll soon get bored. And don’t forget that bored children equal trouble.
Don’t be alone in your job. Training children on your own should be avoided. Always have at least one assistant who can come to your aid when needed.
Do treat your players with the respect they all deserve. Listen to them and take notice of their feelings and opinions since they long for it.
Do set up rules that have to be followed.
Do consider child protection issues, specifically if you are working with a mixed group of boys and girls. A female assistant can come handy in situations where youth soccer coaching involves female players.
If you coach soccer (football), anywhere in the world, The Best Soccer Coaching Blog is for you.