Balancing Fun with Getting Down to Business as a Soccer Coach
Coaching at the youth level can be a very rewarding experience. Organizing a team of young soccer players can help you learn a ton about the game, and a ton about young children as well. Most of all, it can be a lot of fun! But any leadership role comes with the delicate balancing act of maintaining a fun, positive vibe within the team, as well as getting work done and actually helping these kids develop as soccer players. This second aspect to coaching happens to often be a lot less fun. It’s more about running, conditioning, yelling for them to try harder, and trying to contain your anger and frustration when someone makes a blunder of a play. Anyone who watches professional soccer can see the emotions boiling over a coach during any match when a call doesn’t go their way or their team isn’t performing. So how can you keep the soccer team fun during all of this?
Well, at the youth soccer level, you don’t really have to worry about winning so much. Remember, professional coaches may have their jobs on the line. The same can be said of coaches in high school or premier club teams that are looking to produce results. But for a U-8 recreational team, winning should actually be the last thing on your mind.
Youth soccer is about bringing a child warmly into the all the wonderful things that is this game! On the fun vs. business barometer, you definitely need to be more focused on the fun side of things. You can gauge the interest level of kids pretty easily if they aren’t entertained. While you certainly will want to have good drills at practice, if kids are getting bored and ancy it will be tough going for the duration of practices. Sometimes just letting a team scrimmage unfold can be the most fun training for young kids because they feel like they are actually playing the game. Small-sided games can also be very beneficial to a kid’s development and can get them tons of touches. Perhaps even divide the entire team into groups of 3 or 4 and have a mini intra-squad tournament (Just remember to separate the best players to make it as even as possible!).
But what really is most important about this balancing act is your attitude. If you can make a routine soccer drill fun and exciting with all your energy, your players may just find themselves enjoying it to the max! If you feel a certain thing is boring, the kids will look up to you and respond in the same way. Therefore, keep up the positive energy with whatever drills you create for your training sessions. Also, keep this happy vibe with the team throughout the games. Whether or not the team is winning or losing, your confident and positive demeanor will become the foundation for the kids to fight hard and win some games! Make being a part of your soccer team both fun and rewarding in the skills department! You can certainly achieve both with a positive attitude!