My Youth Soccer Guide

Coaching Youth Soccer
Story of Success

Coaching youth soccer in America is in hands of parents that volunteered to coach their child's team. Most of the time those coaches are appointed very accidentally or simply because…

...somebody has to be a coach. And majority of them have little or no experience coaching youth soccer or coaching at all.

For the first time I have learned about this "American youth soccer reality" when I was signing up my son for his first soccer team.
At the inaugural team meeting, the man hosting it asked for a volunteer to coach my son's team. I had thought he was the coach. It turned out he was one of the board directors.

I am not sure what exactly triggered him to point directly at the man sitting next to me (maybe…he was scratching his head or stretching his arm at the time?).

"Great! We have a coach!"
"Who me? O! No!" the man responded. "I don't know much about soccer, I can't coach."
"Sure you can", said administrator passing a sheet of paper to him. "Here's the list of few good references about coaching youth soccer. It's not that difficult."

I was astonished. A parent was selected as a coach with not much knowledge of soccer and coaching at all!

I know, as a former soccer player I should have step up and volunteered. But I didn't. Why? I guess I was too dazzled by the whole process of appointing a coach to a soccer team (even for six years olds). Later on I have offered a new coach my assistance. And it worked out very good.

He took his new role very seriously and learned about the game of soccer pretty quickly. But that's not only the reason why he became a great youth soccer coach. He had:

Characteristics of a Good Coach

  • He was patient.
  • He was dependable and flexible.
  • He enjoyed teaching.
  • He wanted to get to know his players
  • He felt comfortable with being in charge.
  • He had a good sense of humor.
  • He was willing to learn.

    While I tried to help him as much as I could, I have realized that having playing experience doesn't mean knowing how to coach. Of course it helps in many ways, but you still need to develop your coaching skills, regardless if you had played the sport before or not.

    So, as much as the new coach of my son's team struggled at the beginning, he went beyond the characteristics of a good coach and learned, and developed several essentials that he used as a foundation of his successful coaching.

    Essentials of a Good Coach

  • Knowing the basics of the sport.
  • Teaching good sporting behavior.
  • Planning the practices ahead therefore they'll be productive.
  • Communicating effectively with players and parents.
  • Coaching effectively during games.
  • Knowing that success at youth level is not based on winning but overall development.
  • Understanding that the main reason why kid play soccer is to have fun.
  • Teaching skills and tactics.

    All these characteristics and essentials can be learned and mastered by anyone. There are many ways to do so:

  • Through coaching youth soccer resources, like books, videos or DVDs or good soccer web sites.
  • Through observing other coaches.
  • Through coaching clinics.
  • Through learning from your own mistakes.

    Don't get discourage, if you have never played soccer before. If you really willing to learn and you'll "get your hands" on right resources, you will be coaching youth soccer with success.

    "What about skills?" You ask. "How can I teach anybody something that I am not capable of doing myself?"
    I understand. For those who didn't play much soccer or…never, teaching skills will become very challenging. But not impossible!

    At the beginning try to find someone who is able to properly demonstrate each skill and will be willing to assist you in trainings. It could be other parent, one of your player's older sibling, your best friend's son or daughter, your co-worker etc.

    Then learn each skill in…theory: when and how each skill is used.

    In the meantime… practice kicking the ball yourself (the proper way). It takes time but sooner or later (hopefully sooner) you'll be able to show proper technique of basic soccer skills without any assistance. Just like my son's first coach. After one season he didn't really need my help anymore. Even more, he turned into a decent soccer player.

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