5 Ways You Can Motivate Your Soccer Players
Leading a soccer team (especially a young one) to become tough fighters and winners can be extremely hard. With so many distractions rampant throughout our modern world, many kids simply don’t care about soccer and often don’t want to try. How can a soccer coach help motivate their players and make them want to try hard and win every game? Here are 5 great ways in which you can convince your team to give it their all:
1. Make the game of soccer fun – the problem that often exists in youth soccer is that people forget that the sport begins and ends with fun. Competitive players and parents want their kid to be the best ever and expect nothing less. There is immense pressure to push others out of the way and be better than everyone else. Help the players overcome this insane ideal by simply carrying a fun, light-hearted demeanor, expecting nothing of the kids but hoping for the best. When too much pressure to win comes from parents and the coach, it can overwhelm a youngster, ruining the sport and sapping all the fun out of it.
2. Use Positive Reinforcement – Don’t berate kids for messing up or punish the team with sprints following a loss. Instead, focus on all the good things that they did. Perhaps there were a couple great team goals you scored in the loss, or maybe some solid performances and passes kept the team in the game. Make the players feel good about doing things well and they will want to feel that praise again and again.
3. Set Attainable Goals – While putting pressure on players to perform in a competitive game like soccer can be tough, goal-setting can be very beneficial as a motivational tool in soccer, especially at practice. Good examples would be getting each player to learn to juggle a soccer ball 10 or 20 times, getting the team to string together 5 passes before anyone can shoot in a scrimmage, or limiting a team to just 3 touches before they must pass or shoot in a small-sided game. Keep these goals in practice sessions mostly, but you can really challenge your team with a strong goal in a game like holding a clean sheet.
4. Be Fair to Each Player – Everyone can share a story about a kid on their team getting favoritism. Don’t give a special player on the team have any more respect than anyone else. A soccer team needs to be made of equals. This encompasses all facets of the game: Who starts, who plays the most minutes, who runs the team. Especially at the youth soccer level, playing time must be equal and everyone should be given the same opportunities, no matter what their skill level.
5. Make Them Believe in Themselves – While very few people ever become professional athletes, the ones that eventually do are the ones who fully believe in themselves and their abilities. A great coach can help start this belief by believing in the team and letting them know that they can accomplish anything if they work hard enough. While empty promises are often left unfulfilled, a good deal of encouragement could just make the difference in a young player’s pro soccer aspirations.