Monthly Archives: March 2014

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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