How To Get Your Soccer Team To Hustle

Get after that ball! - (Photo: Wickedlocal.com)

Nothing frustrates a soccer coach more than when their players aren’t hustling after the ball.  When you watch an opponent dribble past your entire defense and score a goal, and all you can do is sit back and stare as your players lackadaisically jog back, there is definitely a level of anger and frustration that builds.  When you see your team routinely get beat for those 50-50 balls, you know that there is a certain lack of effort.  How can you get your soccer team to fight harder and really hustle?  Here are some tips to help your players become true fighters!

There are two issues of concern when it comes to hustling: physical ability, and heart.  The physical aspect of hard work is generally up to the players’ fitness. Many people are simply slow or out of shape.  Meanwhile other kids are naturally fast and have great stamina.  While you shouldn’t engage with conditioning practices until high school aged years, you can definitely recommend your players to go for jogs or do some sprinting exercises in order to boost their physicality.  This is simply the physical body that someone has and how in shape they are.  While you certainly may see some improvements over the course of a 10-week season, don’t expect major changes of the players throughout the year.  Also, you’ll notice some players definitely struggling by the end of a game.  Soccer can be exhausting and wear on a young body.  When a player cannot last a full game, make sure you monitor their minutes and encourage them to jog in order to build that stamina.

The second aspect of hustling is heart, and this is where a coach can have an impact.  You want a team of players that always give it their all, no matter what the situation.  Sometimes this means sprinting back to help in defense, sometimes it means a striker running ahead to pressure the opposing goalie knowing that 99 times out of 100 that the goalie will easily kick it away.  You never know when a massive keeper error can lead to a goal.  This even happens at the professional level!  You especially want your team to hustle when they are defending.  Pressure and intense defending will always rattle an opponent and will put your team in a position to get the ball back and go in for a score.

A simple fact remains true amongst the game of soccer.  The team that fights harder and hustles more almost always wins!  Make sure your players know that and try to make them care.  Encourage your players to hustle through positive energy.  Don’t yell at a player to hustle; sub them off and have a quiet word with them.  When you do see a member of your team giving it their all, then yell your applause so that everyone can hear it.  Hard work is a tough game, and can often come with little rewards at first.  By heaping praise of somebody’s hustle you are helping make them believe in themselves and are pushing them to continue.  So when trying to get your players to hustle more, get them to want to fight, to win, and to work hard.  The results can be tremendous!


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