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Like with many sports, the key to building strong fundamental skills is to start young. Soccer is a great sport to get youths involved in as it is excellent exercise, instills confidence and builds teamwork skills.
At times, coaching young kids can be a challenge, although, for many coaches, youth soccer is a worthwhile effort. Here some tips for coaching youth soccer that may help your team on and off the field:
Make it Fun
Coaching youth soccer is different than coaching an older group. Younger kids are often not as competitively driven and are looking to have fun rather than win a championship. By making practices fun with drills disguised as mini-games, your kids will feel like they are playing, while learning the basics and fundamentals of the sport.
Always Plan Ahead
Sometimes practice doesn’t go how you imagine it. If the kids are especially rowdy or have too much energy to focus on your drill or game, it might be a good idea to have a backup activity to do in case your current plans fall through. By planning ahead, you can make sure the team is always in control, and you are always the authority figure on the field.
Talk to the Parents
Encourage open communication with parents to be more involved in your team. Find out how the kids are doing in school, what their other interests are, and if they have any special needs that should be addressed on the field. By keeping an open dialogue with the parents, you will, in turn, be able to communicate and relate better to the kids. Gaining the support of the parents will also make coaching easier, kids often take many cues about what adults to trust by who their parents trust.
Don’t get Hung Up on Winning
In youth soccer, winning is not the most important thing. It’s important that you stay positive if losing is the reality. At a young age, kids will develop social cues from the adults around them, and if they see the coach as being calm and composed in the face of loss, it will instill good sportsmanship-like behavior in them for the future. By not focusing on winning, you can also reward the team when they try their best. This will encourage them to keep trying and work hard, instilling a good work ethic for the future.
Do not Single Players out
If you have a star player on the team, make sure they receive recognition, but do not put other players down or ignore them. In youth soccer, every player must get the nurturing support and encouragement from the coach, regardless of skill level. This type of coaching boosts confidence in your players and makes sure everyone feels included.
The Most Important Tip of All
Since youth soccer is all about having fun, make sure it’s always fun for the kids. At the end of the season, reward your team with a pizza party or trophy regardless of their standing in the league. By following these tips, you can help create confident and skilled players while your nurturing and encouragement stays with them for the rest of their lives.