3 Self-Help Tips for Youth Soccer Coaches

So you want to be a soccer coach? Or maybe you just reluctantly volunteered?

Either way, taking on a soccer team is no small task. Even if you have a collection of U-6 rugrats that chase the ball around like a swarm of bees, passing on some useful knowledge about soccer while keeping it fun and somewhat organized is a task that can be overwhelming.

So how do you self-improve as a youth soccer coach?

Keep in mind that most youth soccer coaches across the country never played at a high level. They had to learn the game just like you are--by taking on the task and scrambling to be the best coach they could be.

Don't know where to start? Here are three soccer coaching tips specifically for the newbies.

Soccer Coaching Licenses

Though it's not a requirement to coach a recreational youth soccer team, obtaining your state "E" certificate is a good way to learn the basics of running a soccer team.

Obtaining "E" certification requires attending an 18-hour course, where the basics such as coaching methods, team management and laws of the game are taught. The "E" certification is administered and instructed by state soccer associations.

After "E" certification, coaches can eventually move up the ladder to D, C, B, and A licenses through the United States Soccer Federation. Coaches often can skip the state "E" certification and start at the USSF "D" license if they played college or pro soccer.

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America also offers courses for coaches of all levels.

Instructional Media

The great thing about the coaching community is that those who have had success are happy to pass their knowledge on.

Go to the local library or bookstore--you would be surprised how much there is to read on soccer coaching. Some of the big organizations like U.S. Youth Soccer and AYSO have materials targeted at new coaches. U.S. Youth Soccer has a section on their website called "Help! I Volunteered to Coach!" specifically for coaches taking on a team for the first time.

Beyond reading, there's other media that offer a more visual way to pick up knowledge. One example is a 5-disc DVD, "SoccerU" with Coach V. Few training guides are as comprehensive as SoccerU, which has more than 11 hours of teaching. SoccerU is designed to be reference DVDs, and coaches are encouraged to re-watch chapters down the road to touch up on knowledge.

Though the SoccerU series is not specifically for teaching coaches how to coach, it is a great way to learn skills and pass them on to younger players. It's easier to teach something, of course, when you learn it yourself.

Watching Soccer Games

Watching soccer is a great way to understand the game better. The Fox Soccer Channel has games on all throughout the day, and games can also be seen on ESPN and Fox Sports throughout the year. Your local college plays a high level of soccer and a lot can be learned by studying what they do and why they do it.

Pay attention to how players work with teammates, how set plays like corner kicks are executed, and how teammates at the high levels communicate with one another. For new coaches, seeing good teams at work is a great way to pick up subtle nuances.

And that type of knowledge can go a long way in making your coaching debut a successful experience for everyone.

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