What Makes a Good Youth Soccer Coach? Thoughts From Coach Rob, Creator of SoccerTech.
Hey everyone, Coach Rob here. I have been fortunate enough to coach soccer for over 30 years at all levels. During that time, I’ve been a club director, state technical director, college coach, and professional coach. I have also traveled over to Europe to work with and observe several professional clubs to see how they organize their youth soccer training programs. Here are some important core concepts that I think help define what makes a good youth soccer coach.
All players that start playing soccer and parents who sign up their child to play soccer do it to have fun. Even at some of the best youth professional academies in the world, they make it fun for the players. Why? It’s very simple, people young and old like to do things that are fun and if they are enjoying it, they want to get better.
Not only do players play soccer because it’s fun, they love to be around coaches that are passionate about practice and games. Players feed off of a coach’s passion and it’s contagious. Soccer is a game of passion and if coaches can exemplify this, players will respond at practice and during games.
As a coach, there are many emotions that you feel. But one of the most satisfying feelings is that of being well prepared for a practice or training session. It is very satisfying to be able to see the players go through a practice session, see them leave with a smile, and then hear them tell their parents what they learned. I’ve seen hundreds of training sessions where the first thing the coach does is have the players run a lap or run to the fence or run around a tree. This is used as a stalling tactic for the coach who is scrambling and trying to figure out what they should do for practice. You should have a well-formulated soccer practice plan that every player will benefit from. That way the player/team won’t feel like they are a burden. Being prepared makes them feel that they are important. SoccerTech’s Coaches Portal takes the guess work out of creating youth soccer practice plans so coaches feel confident they are doing the right thing for their team.
Another great way to be prepared is dressing like a coach. I’ve seen coaches show up to practice still wearing their work clothes. Take the extra minute to put on some coaches gear and look the part. It will help you feel more confident and be that much more prepared.
Be a Good Listener
One thing that I have noticed over the years in soccer is that coaches like to TALK and TALK and TALK. Most of the time players will just tune them out if it’s too much. A great coach will know that he can make a point in just a few words. Players want a coach to listen to them. Maybe they have some ideas as to how they can benefit the team. LISTEN. That’s all that it takes. Try just being silent during one of your soccer drills and listen to how the players interact with each other.
As previously stated in the “Be Prepared” section, the players will feed off your mood. If the coach comes to practice with their head hung low and shoulders slouched, the team will definitely emulate that. If a coach comes with a smile and dressed as a coach with a voice that carries but does not scold, players will respond in the same way. They will move through the session with the same amount of enthusiasm that the coach brings.
Every player is motivated by something different. It is up to the coach to figure out what motivates the team and also what motivates each individual player. When this is accomplished it becomes a great training tool. A coach needs to motivate and not cut down or be negative towards players. If the coach would like to discuss something negative with the player it is best to do it away from the team. Motivation is not “bashing” or being “negative”. Motivation is something that the coach can do very easily if they remember how it was when they were young. Motivation is finding that one thing that a coach can point out to a player that will make a player want to grow even more.
So get out there and be the best coach you can be!
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