How To Re-Energize a Bored Soccer Player
It happens at every level of the sport: A player loses interest and completely fades away from the game. Although at the youth soccer level it typically happens to players when they realize that their dreams of glory are likely to remain just dreams, it can often happen to professional soccer players too. One prime example is Carlos Tevez, who last year left his club, Manchester City, and moved back home to Argentina for six months in the middle of the season to re-organize his thoughts. Though that saga ended happily with a reunited player and team, many young soccer players’ journeys end this way. How can you as a coach keep up the spirits of a disinterested player?
The most important thing is that soccer needs to be fun. That means that the coach and players are positive and keep up happiness around the team. You as a coach can only really control your own actions, but as the leader of the team, your attitude is more important than those of their teammates. The easiest way to turn off a player from a sport is to be too tough of a coach. Yes, conditioning is vital, but does every practice need to start and close with a twenty-minute exercise that sends players hurling on the sidelines?
Make sure the drills are fun too. Keep them simple and give them a “game” feel by creating competition and goals. This will be similar to the actual game itself and can lift a bored player to start caring again.
In the matches, utilize your whole bench of substitutes. Often times players lose faith in soccer because their coach never plays them in games. Perhaps these players truly aren’t very good, but allowing them ten minutes on the field leaves them feeling like part of the team and gives them belief that they can still make an impact. If the player was so bad you wouldn’t even want him or her in the game, perhaps they should have been cut during tryouts.
If you notice a player becoming disinterested, take them aside and talk to them about it. There could be any number of things eating away at their desire, perhaps their grades are suffering, or their girlfriend recently dumped them. Kids deal with many emotions in their adolescence and express them in odd ways. If something like this is the case, teach them that soccer can be the escape for other issues and give them an hour’s time away from their other thoughts.
Sometimes the sport itself can be the problem. Soccer isn’t for everyone, and with numerous distractions like video games and friends pulling them every which way, perhaps a bored player is simply ready to move on from the game. If this is the case for a player on your team, respect it, and let them move on with their lives. Soccer should never be detrimental to one’s overall life enjoyment, so don’t force anything on a player, but do help the player through a tough spot, because perhaps they may just return hungrier than ever to compete in the beautiful game.