FA Respect Campaign – Parents Guide Videos

Most kids (~70%) drop out of organized sports by the time they hit their teens.  Too many adults treat youth sports as the adult version.  It’s not.  If we can catch ourselves as parents, and coaches, and put it all in perspective I bet we have a whole lot less quitting.

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Filed under Respecting the Game for Parents/Coaches

FA Respect Campaign – Respecting the Ref

I think that if parents/coaches thought about how they would like to be treated if they were the referee, and acted on that, we wouldn’t have a problem.

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FA Respect Campaign – Respect the Technology

Easy to get caught up in it all as a parent, but we teach kids quite a bit through how we react.

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Why You Shouldn’t Shout at Players to Pass

There are more than 40 different decision pathways to follow when deciding to pass.  The player’s situation changes constantly so they have to keep reassessing.  The players need to figure it out.

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Filed under Encourage To Think vs. Explicit Instruction

Want Players to Learn More and Develop Faster? Stop Telling Them What to Do.

That’s One Loud Coach!

The more you talk and instruct, the less your players get out of it.

“Mountains of educational and behavioral research testify that telling is the lowest form of instruction. It shifts learning into first gear, breeds dependency and fails to transfer ownership to the individual. ” From the Yell-Tell model of coaching.

“Yelling does not empower athletes,” and “Mistakes are a wonderful way to learn” from Dear Vocal Coach.

U.S. Youth Soccer, also state this explicitly in their coaching manual with quotes like “If a coach is constantly talking or yelling at players during the game, it prevents your players from thinking for themselves.” -Steve Sampson, Former Men’s National Team Coach, June 1998.

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Focus on the “How” and Then the “What”

How you coach youth sports is way more important than what you coach…

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11 Tips for Coaching Youth Soccer

Soccer America’s Youth Soccer Insider posted a great article giving coaches 11 tips for coaching young soccer players.  Though this was written in response to a question on how to coach 6-year-olds, most of these rules apply no matter what age you’re coaching.  Some of my favorite points:

  • Say “no” to the three L’s – no lines, laps or lectures
  • Use age-appropriate games and don’t bore them.  The longer you have to talk to explain it the better the odds that you’ve picked the wrong thing to do.  Don’t sweat it.  Improvise.
  • Don’t yell instructions. This is a tough one for most of us. If you do, you are hindering their growth more than helping it.  Challenge yourself to say less.
  • Your players are not mini-adults.  They’re kids.  Try to see the game through their eyes.  They want to have fun.

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Keep Players From Wandering – Create a Watering “Hole”

Water Bottles

Water breaks are good.  Players need to keep hydrated.  Younger players especially need to make sure they’re drinking water often.

I don’t know about you, but for me they also ate away valuable minutes from a training session.  Not the drinking part, but everything else that came with the water break.  This has been my experience…

When I would tell the players to go get a drink of water during a training session it usually took quite a bit of effort to bring them back in for the next activity.  Their bottles are usually over where their packs, snacks and parents are.  So not only were they drinking water, but eating, showing off stuff they brought with them, talking to their folks, horsing around and so on.

They were also far enough away that I’d have to yell to bring them back in.  Often I’d have to resort to the countdown trick to finally real them in:






…there are only so many fractions a coach can take.

So I started something new at trainings and it’s working brilliantly: a watering “hole.” Once I setup my field for training, I take a bunch of cones and make a small circle somewhere about central to where all the activities are happening.  At the start of practices I have my players put all their bottles in the watering hole.  That’s where they’ll go when they need a drink.

When it’s time to take a drink they go to the “hole.”  They are in easy earshot.  They come back in quickly for the next activity.  They can still make small talk and goof around, but it eliminates distance and all the other distractions.  Works awesome.

Additional benefit – when a girl’s team comes off the field from a small-sided game, an they want to grab a quick drink while they’re waiting, I’m more likely to say OK because it’s right there.

Because I’m eliminating much of the delay in getting the players re-engaged, in addition to me being a bit quicker to get started on the next activity because the girls are naturally back faster, I’m guessing I am gaining around 5 minutes more time each session.  For a 90 minute training, that’s 6% more engagement with the players!

Highly recommend giving it a go with your sessions.

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Interesting Reads – 2/21/2014

Achievement Goal Theory and Why Kids Quit Sports

Lots of kids drop out of sports by the time they hit 13.  70% in fact.  With the upside of sports on kids being so positive, that’s a disturbing number.  The good news is that most of the reasons are within the coach’s influence of control.  When looking at the competitive side of things, Achievement Goal Theory (AGT) also tells us that what motivates people the most is demonstrating mastery of a task or to one’s self.  That link in the article to a 15 minute video on AGT is worth the time.

Why Kids Quit Sports

Unleashing Creativity in the Uncreative

Being creative is an important part of soccer.  Usually when I read things on how to get kids to be creative the overarching theme is usually a “hands off” approach.  However, there are going to be some players that struggle with that kind of freedom.  In fact, there are going to be kids who need a bit more structure, a little more praise and a bit more engagement from you.  Know your players and get some tips from this great article.

How to Unleash the Uncreative Children

More Bad News for Crossing

I love data and analytics. This analysis is another angle of why crossing has the lowest percentage of success for scoring goals.  The other article is in this post from last week.  Now, if you follow me on twitter and/or read this blog, you know I care more about development than about winning.  So why should this matter? For me, it just puts things like crossing and completing passes in the attacking third into perspective.  It’s hard.  It can help shape the expectations for you, your parents and your players.

And there are a lot of pretty graphics.

How Can an Attacking Team Get Close Enough to Expect a Goal?


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Filed under Coaching Tips, Developing Creative Players

Putting Things in Perspective – 2/14/14

Focus on the Individual

“Our idea is: don’t think about teams anymore, just think about individuals. It’s all about developing the individual.” – Dennis Bergkamp

If you are coaching players under the age of 14 the focus should be developing the individual, not the team.  Technical over tactical.  Skill and technique over positions.  Develop the whole player.  Most of us who volunteer will not meet Cryuff’s profile for the ideal youth coach.  We don’t have to.  As long as we never assume we know it all (note to self: this means you!), keep questioning, keep learning and focus on developing the best all-around player both on and off the pitch then great things will happen.

Cryuff & Ajax’s ‘Way Forward’

A Little Cross on Crossing

It takes about 91 open crosses to score 1 goal in the English Premier League (EPL).  91!  These are not the set plays resulting from free kicks or corners, but all the other crosses.  What this research indicates is that if EPL teams focused a little less on crossing they would score more goals.

Good too keep in mind when you’re out there teaching crossing for the youngsters.  It’s hard for the pros to execute and we’re teaching kids.  Have patience and put things in perspective.

Crossing in Soccer has a Strong Negative Impact on Scoring

Talk Less

If you want players to learn more, have them stop looking and listening to you so much.  Watch those lines in practice.  Standing around isn’t even on the pyramid.

Passive vs Active Learning

Pulled the image from this link, but made it a little bigger for this post.

Stay Positive

In addition to creating an environment where mistakes are OK, it’s important to focus on the positives after games that just don’t go well.  Highlight the things that did go right during the game – you were watching for those, weren’t you?  And those problems during the game aren’t problems.  They are teachable moments.  They are opportunities to find solutions and to get better.


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Filed under Coaching Tips, Development Over Winning, Positive Coaching