Soccer Updates

Are you Important as a Coach?

Authors: Sam Snow - US Youth Soccer

Youth coaches play a very important part in the growth and development from U-6 to U-12 in the game of soccer. One of the most important areas that with the growth of a young player is the positive environment that is created by the coach. Coaches must be understanding, not only in the game of soccer, but they must do it as it relates to the age of the youth that they will be training. They also must understand how leadership comes into play concerning the players and the parents. 

Coaches need to have the ability to provide an experience that will contribute to the life skills of the soccer player and family and he or she has to do this for all the players and family members they come into contact with. The Coaches Section of the US Youth Soccer website offers many training videos and reading materials to support the issues of concern. 

A coach must have realistic expectations and consistently reinforce athletes when they succeed in meeting their goals of the game, i.e. scoring a goal or making a wall pass in the attacking third. It is a good idea to reinforce a positive occurrence as soon as that happens but even if you delay the reinforcement, it's better late than never.

What you chose to reinforce is of significance when dealing with our youth players. It is easy to recognize and praise an athlete who just scored a goal or made a great move. A coach is not likely to reinforce a player who made the great effort but did not meet the goal of the task. The second player needs praise just as much as the first player.

How much time do we spend talking about how to praise a player for the effort?  We must learn as coaches to be able to describe the behavior or action the player performs in order to better understand how to give him/her the deserved praise as opposed to not giving feedback for the effort.  Tell the player what you saw them trying to accomplish and that they almost completed the task; "You'll get it done the next time!" Don't forget to let them know how much you appreciated the effort behind attempt.

Remember, correction shouldn't come from yelling. Don't be harsh or demeaning, don't give corrective information in a punitive or hostile manner and don't let your good intention in giving instruction be self defeating.

Legendary coach John Wooden would say that he thought a mistake was the "stepping stone to achievement." This is one of the reasons behind the developmental aspect of the National Youth License; we give children a chance to learn what is needed to improve performance. By getting the players to become part of the decision, the player will learn from their mistakes.  

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