How Can You Make Your Youth Soccer Team Happy?
Playing soccer as a kid is a great way to make friends, have fun, and earn the memories that will last a lifetime. Therefore, as a soccer coach this is your ultimate goal. It’s not to win the league three years running. It’s not to make sure that your son or daughter gets to play striker in every minute of every game. It’s not to crush a kid’s dream by leaving him on the bench all game (even if he does suck!). Therefore, really do think of the children (all the children!) when you agree to become the coach of the team.
Practices should be easy-going and fun for the players. Make sure there are good drills where the players can team up with one another or work together for a common goal. Don’t make the players run all practice because they lost last weekend. Everyone already feels terrible about it. Let it go. Instead make practice a relaxing time for players where they can learn new skills, develop friendships, and basically have fun while kicking a soccer ball around. Remember, the entire feel of a team begins from the attitude of the coach. If you can relax and have fun, so will your players.
During games, don’t put too much pressure on the children. For many, these are the first games of soccer that they may ever play. Therefore, tell everyone to have fun and work hard. Maybe point out a few things that you taught them in practice and see if they can utilize their new skills. Too often in youth soccer though, those plans will be tossed out the window in under a minute, and the players will commence their weekly ritual of kick and run. That is OK. Remember, this game is about fun. So let the players do what they do and suffer the consequences.
What you need to be focused on is making sure that every player gets to play roughly the same amount of time. Also, be sure to change up the positions that the kids play on the field. Don’t let one kid play center forward all game. Face it, every single kid on the team wants to play up top and score goals. Therefore, give everyone a chance at the position, regardless of their size or skills.
When it comes to select starters, make sure you rotate this as well. No one likes to get all excited for the big game, only to be told to go sit on the bench. Make sure that every one of your players start some games, but also sit out at the start of others. But the important part of your coaching job is to make substitutions every couple of minutes to ensure that everyone gets to play a bit and gets to have a rest as well.
While coaching a young soccer team does place the burden of teaching and developing on your shoulders, you need to take a step back. For many kids, this is their first experience with the sport or competitive sports altogether. Therefore, make it fun and let the kids enjoy exercising while forming bonds with one another. Leave all the yelling and conditioning practices for their high school and premier club teams’ coaches that they will meet down the road!