When coaching kids soccer, one quickly realizes how it can be difficult, because young soccer players seem to always be wandering in a different direction! How can a coach keep his/her players’ attentions and keep control of their practices? By mixing up activities and using as many senses as possible, a coach can give players an outlet for their energy while still teaching them. By keeping lessons short and focused, a coach also encourages players to pay attention before being let loose.
Mix it Up In my youth coaching career I have seen coaches be all fired up and full of creativity after they first get their coaching licenses but soon they fall pray to the weekly training boredom blues. A lot of coaches show up at the field, sometimes late because of their daily routines, not properly prepared with a coaching session plan for the day. They try to wing a training session and at times forget that their key subjects are youth soccer players that they might have had a long day at school and might want a bit of release of energy in the soccer pitch. Coaching kids soccer requires one to be innovative and always engaging and mostly to be always using their creativity and imagination. Kids do not stay focused for long, so coaches must constantly invent new ideas, games and techniques for keeping their young soccer players excited about participating in soccer and learning. To do this, I personally have had plenty of wacky, creative ideas from time to time…crazy hat day, golf soccer, hula soccer, for the younger soccer players, daily player game creation and favorite exercise, or player run training session for the older ones…
Keep it Short Coaches do not have much time with youth soccer players before their minds will begin to wander. To stretch out this time and get more undivided attention from young soccer players, coaches should work to involve players by asking them questions, asking them to repeat things just said, summarizing important lessons, and making the session interactive.
Because of short attention spans, coaches should keep lessons concise and very focused. By encouraging players to pay attention to one lesson at a time, broken up by periods of physical activity and reviews of material covered earlier in the practice, coaches lengthen the amount of serious time they have with young athletes.
Increase Interactivity When Coaching Kids Soccer Youth soccer players today are not as able to sit and absorb information as previous generations because of the readily available media streams. They are now able to process multiple inputs at once and often get bored or restless if they are simply listening to someone talk at them. To reach young soccer players on their level, I incorporate videotaping of training sessions, with the aid of a parent and then email all kids that training session with comments and remarks. Kids love to watch themselves and realize much better what the coach was talking about when they see themselves participate in that particular training session. Skills that were explained or mistakes and adjustments that were discussed in a training session, all of sudden become understood by watching the video playback.
Coaches should remember that any internet usage by young players needs to be heavily monitored by responsible adults to prevent athletes from wandering to inappropriate sites or accessing unapproved material.
Those coaching kids soccer can also provide written material or charts for older athletes who can read and write. Charts could contain a list of what skills have been taught, when they were first introduced, and the coach’s assessment of how well the athletes perform that skill. For written material, coaches can pass out brief instructions about skills or a one-page review of what has been taught to that point in the season.
The use of different soccer aids that are fun and engaging is another great way to teach and improve their skills while holding their attention and always have them ask for more.
Lastly one of my least favorite methods of training is “LAPS”. I see kids running laps, either for warm up or cool down or for punishment. My philosophy is that soccer is a game or quick short sprints. Running nonstop for a prolonged period of time is called cross-country or long distance running. A soccer player’s heartbeat is different from the one of the long distance runner. Why not develop and strengthen that heartbeat with proper sport appropriate exercises. I have found some fun engaging videos of great ideas on these sites:
www.futworkz.com - www.soccertoplay.com
As I write this, I am still bathing in the joyful accomplishment feeling from the performance of my new,
only months put together U9 girls team in yesterday’s 14 team scrimmage fest. Let me point out
that all teams in the scrimmage fest were 2 to 4 flights higher than us but we played teams that were
2 and 3 flights higher as the 4th flight were high level premier teams. I felt that my girls could compete
with teams 2-3 flights higher and they proved it. We did not win any games, nor was I expecting to win
any. My goal was to introduce them to more serious challenging competition and see how they would
handle it. They were competitive in all games, scores were very close and there were two reasons why
we lost the games.
1st Physicality – I explained to them that we can play against bigger faster kids by mastering our
fundamentals, passing and moving without the ball and letting the other team do all the running. Even
though teams are in higher flights does not always mean they are better.
Most youth level teams play for today, kick and run, more physical style of football. That will earn them
results "today" and get them in higher flights, but as the development goes "tomorrow" will come and those same teams will find themselves losing to the teams they used to beat as those teams have developed their fundamentals, touches on the ball and movement without the ball. So we play for "tomorrow".
2nd The “BUTT DRAGGING” Phase of the game caught up with us. In today’s pro level football
matches there are more goals scored in the last couple of minutes and extra time than the entire game.
That is also true for most youth games if the teams are not as fit as their opponent. Lack of stamina leaves the kids wondering what happen to their skill level. The fatigue of a less fit team is shown as their quality of play starts to fall off and their decision making falters. Technique goes out of the window as the athlete is struggling for oxygen after an intense run or a series of moves. The advantage in those late minutes swings to the opponent. When a coach helps a player improve their technical skills while on the verge of exhaustion will pay huge dividends at those late minutes with the game on the line.
We have been working on those two points, fundamentals as well as our stamina, and have been making huge improvements. Although we have not reached our goal yet working with Futpro and the Futwork Training System has most definitely put us on the path of competing with higher level teams. A few months ago when this team was put together we had a hard time competing with a U8 higher level team. Since we started to use Futpro and Futworks I can see the fundamentals, footwork, agility and stamina improving. Best of all my girls love to train and the "boredom blues" have gone away. Going from U8 to U9 higher level competition is leap of development.
Watch videos here --->http://www.soccertoplay.com/futworks.html