Becoming a youth soccer coach isn't always easy and believe me, it doesn't get easier from there. Soccer might be an easy game to play but coaching it takes a lot of patience, preparation, knowledge, and understanding.
You need to be able to relate to your players and communicate with young individuals as they're going through challenges in life.
The role of a coach is incredibly important as you're often seen as a role model for these kids.
With the right level of practice and planning, you can turn your passion for soccer into effective coaching skills.
Responsibilities of a Youth Soccer Coach
Before we outline the steps about how to coach soccer, here is a look at the main responsibilities of a youth soccer coach.
- Guiding and instructing players to help improve their soccer skills.
- Educating the players on soccer field layouts, soccer rules, and strategies
- Evaluating strategies for training sessions and matches
- Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of players and delivering player-centric coaching
- Ensuring the safety of players and helping them to stay fit through soccer drills
- Motivating the players and keeping them active
- Teaching the players concepts of good sportsmanship and fair play
- Making sure to keep the players interested by having fun
- Planning and organization of soccer sessions
How to be a Soccer Coach
The first step is to determine the level or age group at which you want to start coaching. The challenges will vary depending on whether you are planning to coach the grassroots or high-school students.
Learn About the Game
To start with, you need to have a clear understanding of soccer fundamentals, including all the rules of the game. One way to prepare yourself is to watch a variety of soccer matches and study the coaching philosophy of successful coaches.
It goes without saying that training a U10 soccer team will not be as challenging as training at the club level. For soccer training of university or state-level players, you might need certifications. Otherwise, you can start by volunteering as a coach or assistant coach for a local youth team.
It is easier to start coaching soccer if you have experience in playing the game. This helps to understand the practical aspects of the game and form a better connection with the soccer players.
The next step is to attend workshops and online coaching courses that will provide the necessary guidelines for beginner soccer training. If you are interested in club-level coaching, you can also consider getting certified in how to coach soccer.
The United States Youth Soccer Association offers six different certifications from A to F levels. An E or F level certification should be good enough for training young players. Since safety is an important aspect of the game, you can also consider getting a CPR/First Aid certification.
In addition, you can also consider getting a degree in sports management, sports medicine, or fitness.
Even after you have earned certification, it is important to keep learning to make your fundamentals stronger.
Communication and interactions are extremely important for youth soccer coaching. Addressing the questions of the players in an open manner helps in delivering the right coaching education.
Coaches need to be good listeners and ensure clear communication to build strong and meaningful relationships with young athletes.
As a coach, remain aware of prejudices and biases that can negatively affect communication. Besides, the use of angry words, improper facial expressions, and voice quality can distract the players and make them lose sight of the coaching tips being offered.
Using a Player-Centered Approach
Every player is unique and needs a different kind of guidance to develop their skills.
They need to work on various aspects of the game through multiple soccer practices. So, coaches need to know all the players to attend to their individual training needs for different soccer positions.
Coaches should create individual targets and set simple objectives depending on a player’s skill, ability, playing position, and age. It is also important for a coach to be creative and try out multiple teaching methods to ensure that players do not get frustrated with the same coaching style.
Engage the Parents
You should involve the parents of the players to win their support for reinforcing your training philosophies. You can also outline your expectations from the players to help them understand your coaching philosophies.
Note, it is not necessary for making the coaching sessions a one-man show. You can seek the help of a “team parent” to help you out with certain activities.
Keep in mind that you can also assist parents with their soccer training-related purchases on gear and equipment. If you find a special deal on good training equipment, let the parents know about it.
Allow Kids to Have Fun
To make the kids fall in love with the game, you need to ensure that every aspect of the practice, from warm-up to small-sided games, is a lot of fun.
That means you need to create a positive environment that encourages the kids to participate and enjoy themselves on the soccer field.
Without developing their love for the game, you will not get the hard work that is needed for player development. Making soccer fun also increases their chances of sticking to the game in the long run.
Keep in mind that developing their love for the game is not about winning matches or being able to scrimmage against other teams.
For this, the playing time should be challenging, exciting, and the players should keep making progress. The training sessions should vary in terms of intensity, complexity, and rhythm.
Keep The Kids Active
The fact is, young players will get bored quickly if they have to listen to coaching interventions or stand on the sidelines or in a queue for long periods.
It is important to keep the young players active not only during the matchday but at all times during the training session.
Ideally, coaches need to keep the soccer ball rolling for at least 70% of the time during the training sessions. The practice sessions should flow smoothly and keep the players engaged. Also, make sure that the lessons you deliver are short, simple, and easy to understand.
Organize the Sessions
Every first-time coach needs to work on their organizational skills to ensure the best results from the practices. It is important to focus on the key objectives for developing individual players and the team. The training sessions should be planned accordingly.
Besides, good planning will ensure that all the sessions are well-organized with the right balance between playing time and listening to instructions. In addition, this will also help in preparing the players for a game day or soccer tryouts.
These are some of the pointers for individuals looking to learn how to coach soccer. Even if you do not opt for a coaching certification, there are plenty of online resources to help you become a better coach.
While coaching youth soccer, keep an open mind and embrace new ideas. Ensure that you set high standards, stay calm under pressure, and become a role model for the kids to follow.