Role of Coach
Soccer coaches wear many different hats, particularly when they’re training young players, many of whom are lacing up their cleats for the first time. You might find yourself leading a fun activity one minute and reining in a distracted player the next.
You must be flexible, because a session or drill that was meant to last ten minutes might need to be switched up after half that time to keep the players engaged.
Above all, make sure everyone is enjoying themselves—including you!
Demanding and rewarding.
Being a coach is demanding, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. There’s nothing quite like witnessing the thrill a young player gets when they score their first goal or save a goal. And the lessons a child learns from a good coach can last a lifetime.
Develop good people.
The objective isn’t just to develop better soccer players—it’s to develop well-rounded people who are disciplined, persistent and able to work well with others.
Shaping the lives of young people is a tremendous responsibility. As a coach, you must do everything you can to foster a player’s love for the game, and to help them achieve their potential.
Be enthusiastic and let your personality come out.
Good coaches seek out new ways to develop their knowledge of the game and how players learn. But it’s not just about what you teach. It’s about how you teach. Ultimately, it’s your personality and enthusiasm that will have the biggest impact on your players.
Every soccer player is unique and it’s important to understand and appreciate the differences between players at various age levels. Consider the group of players you’re working with and the outcomes you want to achieve, and choose your coaching technique accordingly. Here are the three coaching techniques that will give you some options to help meet the needs of individual players.
The coach tells the player what to do and demonstrates it.
Example: “I want you to pass the ball to your teammate like this.”
Question and answer
The coach leads with a question and requests an answer from a player.
Example: “Which one of your teammates could you pass the ball to?”
The coach asks a question and issues a challenge.
Example: “Can you show me how you would get the ball past the defender?” The player then demonstrates how they would do it.
Remember, a method that works well with one player may not be effective with another. So it’s important to be flexible, to set realistic goals and to give positive feedback as often as possible. It’s also important to remember that, no matter how wonderful a coach you are, it’s very difficult to force a player to be interested in your training session when they don’t really want to be there. Make the experience lots of fun and all your players will want to come back the next time.
Understand the session drills. You need to know the drills quite well because there isn’t much time to look them up when you are on the field and when the players are getting restless waiting for instructions.
Dress like a coach. If you look like a coach, the players may show you more respect and it will give you some confidence as a coach.
Arrive early and get setup. If you don’t arrive early or on time you will find yourself always running behind which will take away from the training session experience for the players and you.
Be organized. Being familiar with the session and arriving early will help to get you off to a good start. Having the training material handy will help you stay organized and give you one less thing to think about in case you need to check something or make an adjustment to keep the players interested.
Be enthusiastic. Ultimately, it’s your personality and enthusiasm that will have the biggest impact on your players. You obviously enjoy soccer or you wouldn’t have become a coach, so don’t be afraid to show your love for the game and for the players you are coaching.
Be positive. You are going to help players more by staying positive and looking for good things that a player has done than criticizing a player for making a bad play.
Be loud. To get and keep the players attention and to make sure they hear your instructions, use a firm, clear, and loud voice.
Stop. To deliver a teaching point using one of the teaching techniques—Command, Question and Answer, and Guided Discovery—you need to stop the activity and get all the players’ attention.
Demonstrate. Most people learn best if they can see what it looks like.
Rehearse. Let the players try, to make sure they understand before you go live.
“Go live.” Once you can see that they understand, restart the activity.
Training session plan
Standard warm-up. The warm-up is to get the players (and coach) moving and loose and to practice the important skill of dribbling. The standard warm-up is used at the beginning of every training session. Time: 5 to 10 minutes.
Technique. In this section a new soccer technique is introduced and practiced. Time: 10 to 12 minutes.
Skill. In this section, pressure in the form of a defender is added to further develop the skill. Time: 10 to 12 minutes.
Small-sided game: Switch. The game is an opportunity to try out the new technique and to just have some fun. The small-sided game is used at the end of every training session. Time: 15 to 25 minutes.
Key points. Reinforce key points of session. Remind the players what was worked on.
Went well. Discuss what the players did well in the training.
Needs improvement. Outline areas of improvement. Try to avoid singling out individual players in team discussions. Instead talk to the players one-on-one.
Clean up space. Remove your cones, balls, clothing, water bottles and so on to allow the next team to setup and start their training session.
Game Day Plan
Pre-game: Coach preparation and warm-up
Arrive early. Arrive at least 20 minutes before kick-off to setup and greet players as they arrive.
Setup and start warm-up. With help from assistant coach, setup the cones and goals for the warm-up activity and get players warming up. Have assistant coach oversee warm-up. Time: 5 minutes.
Check in with other team. Check in with other team’s coach to decide who is wearing pinnies, game start time, substitution procedure, and so on.
Setup and start technical drill. Setup the technical drill. Time: 5 to 10 minutes.
Check players’ equipment. Check players’ equipment and uniform and ask them how they are doing.
Conduct team talk. Allow at least 5 minutes before the start of the game to have a little talk and to let players rest.
Pre-game: Team talk
Formation and starting positions. For the more experienced or older players, explain the formation and their starting positions.
What to do in attack. On the attack, spread out—forward and back, and side to side—in order to stretch and pull defenders out of position.
What to do in defence. Compete for the ball, be strong in tackling to increase chance of getting ball and to reduce chance of injury, chase other team back towards their goal, get on goal side (inside) of opponent.
Decision making: Dribble or pass. First of all, don’t be afraid to dribble with the ball. Dribble: a) when there is open space around you and there is an opportunity to move the ball closer to the opponent’s goal, b) to keep the ball away from your opponent, and c) to get in a better position to pass or shoot the ball. Pass: a) when your teammate is in a better position to advance the ball or score, b) to get around a defender, c) to keep ball away from opponent.
Never run away from a pass. Always move to the ball as it’s played to you. Otherwise alert defenders will beat you to it.
Forming shapes. For the more experienced or older players, form triangles and diamonds to open up passing lanes.
Passing ball sideways and backwards. If you can’t go forward, there is nothing wrong with passing sideways or backwards. Make sure the other team can’t get the pass.
Moving to open space. The most important thing for any player to keep in mind is that they must make themselves available for a pass by ensuring a clear passing lane between themselves and the ball carrier. Doing this ensures the player with the ball will always have an option if they cannot move forward.
Keeping head up and looking for pass. If you don’t look up when you are dribbling, you are not going to be able to find someone to pass to and will probably give up the ball.
Working hard and not giving up. Yes, a cliche, but still worth mentioning. The teams who work the hardest and who don’t let minor setbacks get them off their game, are usually the most successful.
Being creative. Try different things and don’t worrying about making mistakes. A player who tries something new and fails is going to be more successful than a player that doesn’t take any chances.
Having fun. Of course, that’s what it’s all about.
Don’t coach players with ball. Coach players who are near or away from the ball, rather than the player with the ball. Avoid telling the players what to do when they receive the ball. Allow the players to play and make their own decisions with the ball.
Support players with respect to their positioning.Where time permits, use the Question and Answer teaching technique to get players to learn how to get into position.
Help players stay composed. Help players learn to maintain and hold their composure when they receive negative comments from the sidelines or they have a dispute with an opponent or official.
Communicate with assistant coaches. Communicate with the other coaches to ensure your messages are consistent in content and with the above recommendations.
Manage sideline players. Ensure players on sidelines are watching game and encouraging their teammates and not goofing around, being negative or interfering with the play.
Going well. Identify what is going well and ask players to give their thoughts on the game so far.
Needs improvement. Identify what can be improved, individually and collectively, and discuss how to fix. Try to avoid singling out individual players in team discussions. Instead talk to the players one-on-one.
Players health, attitude and behaviour. Ensure players are getting hydrated and nourished, staying positive, and not goofying around.
Post-game: Team talk
Went well. Identify what went well and ask players to give their thoughts on the game.
Needs improvement. Identify what can be improved and discuss how to fix for next game. Try to avoid singling out individual players in team discussions. Instead talk to the players one-on-one.
Hydrate and get dressed. Encourage the players to hydrate and change or add clothes.
Positive departing message. Send players away with a positive message (e.g., ”keep up the good work” or “we are getting very close”), and emphasize the importance of practicing at home and school, and remind them of the next practice.