Thursday, March 27, 2014

Coaching Young Soccer Players

My oldest daughter, the one in Baton Rouge will be coaching soccer.  The kids are seven and eight.  She has eight kids on her team.  She has been coaching 13 year olds and been enjoying it.  She is baffled by these young kids.

I was thrilled when she called and asked for a little bit of advice.

This is what I told her.

Keep expectations low

The priorities are
  • Keep it safe
  • Keep it fun
  • Keep them moving
  • Maybe teach them a little bit about soccer.


Keep it safe and fun

Don't practice more than half an hour without some kind of water break.  Part of the fun is the socializing.  Plus, she is going to be having them move more than they are used to.

Slow the kids down a little bit if they start getting bonkers.  But mostly let them play.

Snacks are a big part of soccer when you are a young kid.

Keep them moving

With all of the "hyper" kids you would not think this is a problem.  But it is.  Too much TV.

Dead time is bad.  That is where you are talking at them.

Most drills are high-dead time and it is debatable that many of the skills you drill on will get executed in a game.

"Games" like keep-away and scrimmages are GOOD.

Always ask yourself, is there any way I can increase the number of balls in play? Can they play keep-away with two balls instead of one?  Is there any way I can piggyback skills...Example: If the keep-away is done on a smaller "pitch" then many out-of-bounds will result.  That is a great time to practice throw-ins.

Keep them moving Part II

Another way to keep them moving is to go "fat" in the middle.  Have one "striker", three "mid-fielders", and one stopper and one sweeper.  Those young kids will want to run the entire field anyway.  Teaching position is harder when kids have to keep left-and-right in their brain as well as which sector along the length of the field is theirs.

Keep them moving Part III

Pay attention to how often you use the whistle.  If you are blowing it more than once a minute you are blowing it too often.  If you blow it less than once every five minutes you are missing teaching opportunities.

Remember, remember, can blow the whistle to call attention to a player who is doing something particullarly well.  For example, that kid who is not near the ball but is perfectly positioned for a pass or a shot.  Or maybe it is the stopper who is roaming the half-field line waiting to pounce on the ball and push it back up the field.

Maybe teach them a little bit of soccer along the way

Better Soccer, More Fun: A website that does a nice job talking about teaching soccer to young kids.

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