Attention soccer coaches: School is now in session

Coaching youth soccer can be more difficult that you imagine  Credit: Simon Bruty/Allsport
Are you a rookie coach? Or do you feel like you want to improve your technique? Well, we're here for you. In the first of a two-part series, we will be throwing out some quick, easy coaching tips you can adopt that will really improve life out on the practice fields and at game time.

Player to coach ratio
Try to reduce the player to coach ratio by getting parents to assist you if possible. For the younger players, three or four players per coach is a good number, and with older kids try to have one coach for every eight or nine players.

The better coach to player ratio you have, the better your players will learn. Also, this year's assistants are next year's coaches, so you'll be helping your club. Plus, your assistants will know a bit more than they would have if the become coaches.

I would add the suggestion to find assistants, as well, from the ranks of the U-16 to U-19 teams in the area.

Particularly for girls, roll models they can relate to can make a world of difference. I am currently using four U-17 girls to help with my U-10 girls and everyone is benefitting greatly. The older girls are even saying that they are learning as much as the little ones since teaching a skill allows them to understand it better.

Teamwork
DON'T focus on having star players, but work on teamwork instead.

Teamwork should be the key to the development of your players. An entire team that works well together can beat two or three star players, easily.

Also, like all others, star players might move away or get hurt, but if your entire team works well together, then one player leaving the team won't devastate the rest.

Stay away
Stress to your players that they stay away from each other. Proper spacing is essential to the game.

It's very easy for players (especially younger ones) to bunch up, and that will hurt the flow of the game and the development of the players. Constantly tell them to keep away from each other ? explain to them where their space is, and how important it is to keep it.

Positions
Rotate your players through all positions.

Every player should know how hard it is to be a goalie, defender, midfielder, and forward. Besides the fact that the talents seen in young players might not be the ones that are best when that player gets a little older, you never know when you'll need one of your defenders to play up on the front line.

When assigning position, remember how important it is for players to be versatile, especially when they are younger. Nailing a player down to one position early on is not wise. A valuable defender for your team might have the ability to be a star striker ? you never know until you try.

Having fun
Fun, for you and the players, should be the number one priority.

Your second concern should be that the children learn, and the very last should be if they win or lose.

Coaches who focus on the win-loss record are the ones whose players don't return the next season, and that is the true measure of a good coach.

Check back here next week for part two of this series!


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