Role of the Coach (young teams)

Coaching a recreational youth team is not difficult, here are some pointers for a smooth season…

Introduction (DVD resource)

West Florida Flames Soccer has donated two copies of “Coach Doug Soccerhelp method of Coaching” DVD to each location:

East Lake Community Library Palm Harbor Library
4125 East Lake RoadPalm Harbor, FL 34685

Tel: 727-773-2665

2330 Nebraska AvePalm Harbor, FL 34683

Tel: (727) 784-3332

Call Number: DVD 796.334 SOC Call Number: DVD 796.334 SOC

The DVDs can be borrowed and returned to the library using your library card.  The DVD is about 30-minutes long and the most amazing coaching video we have ever seen!  This DVD will open your eyes to a better way to coach, your players will improve faster, and players, coaches and parents will have more fun. You will be amazed at the results.

Most Important Coaching Tips

  1. Fun.
    The most important thing is fun – if it isn’t fun, it isn’t good. Players will be more enthusiastic and keep playing soccer if it’s fun. Fun is everything.
  2. Don’t use hands to pick up the ball while on the field.
    Don’t use your hands and don’t allow players to use their hands to pick up the ball in practice or in a game – only use your feet. Put the balls in a bag before you put them in your car, empty out the bag and have the players kick the balls back into the bag at the end of practice. Don’t allow visitors and spectators to use their hands. Talk to your parents about this, and ask brothers, sisters, grandparents, etc. to also never use their hands. Encourage the same at home for all soccer balls.
  3. A ball for every player.
    You can’t have an efficient practice unless you have at least one ball per player, plus a ball for yourself and any assistants you have. I always use a 2:1 or better ball to player ratio, so that I can play multi-ball practice games, such as races.
  4. Abolish waiting in line from your practices.
    All activities should be accomplished simultaneously, with all players participating all of the time. Never have a player stand around waiting or watching others do something, just have them do it all at the same time. Standing in line is boring!
  5. Do not associate any sort of punishment with soccer.
    Do not play elimination games; do not punish children for bad behavior. Correct bad behavior with positive reinforcement of GOOD behavior with patches and praise. No punishment.
  6. Do not scrimmage at practice.
    Scrimmaging is a poor way to practice; the activity level is too low with only one ball with several kids. It is a poor use of precious practice time. Only the fastest and strongest get to touch the ball, the rest get frustration. Scrimmaging also reduces the motivation for the real match day.
  7. Make your games include traffic and pressure.
    Traffic is created by having lots of kids with lots of balls moving through and around each other. Pressure is created by having practice games played together (traffic), or though time pressures to finish faster (pressure). Skills are only learned properly when under pressure and in traffic, these conditions simulate real matches.
  8. Be enthusiastic all of the time.
    You are the leader, make the experience fun and exciting, the parents and players will follow your lead. Enthusiasm is contagious. Build the love of soccer in your entire team and in their parents. Do not be a mean coach or a ‘yeller’, that’s not a fun way to coach!
  9. Include your parents as part of the practice.
    Parents don’t know that they can help, but many like to, if you just ask them. Include your parents in everything; they are an asset at practice as assistants, as well as helping plan parties and obtain trophies, team pictures, etc. It reduces your workload if you have parents help, and it makes it a better experience for them and their kids.
  10. Remember: N. F. P. = Nice, Fun, Patient (From David at SoccerHelp)
    There is a lot to learn from Coach Doug. His Practice Games and coaching methods are great. But there are 3 things Doug does great that some of us, including me, need to keep in mind when coaching kids.

Team Management

This should be one of the very first articles you read. You’ve volunteered to coach your son or daughters’ U6 team, or the league called you and begged you to do it, because there was no one else to do it! That happens a lot. You know absolutely nothing about soccer or coaching.

Help!!! What do I do?

Don’t panic, it’s not that hard, and actually, it’s incredibly fun, and one of the most rewarding things you can do in the world. I wish I could quit my regular job and just coach little kids all the time. There will be challenges, highs and lows, but you will see amazing moments and the personal satisfaction will be awesome. You will see direct results of your efforts, and fairly quickly too.

Before Your First Practice

  • Know when and where to practice
  • Gather your equipment
  • Verify parent contact information on your team roster (call the parents)
  • Dress like a soccer coach
    • This may sound a bit odd, but it actually will do wonders to get you off on a good start. If you look like you know what you are doing, everyone will naturally assume that you do! It helps with credibility and it boosts morale and confidence in the coach if you look like a real coach. Imagine showing up in a three piece suit or flip flops and the reactions you might get. Everyone would assume that you had no clue about soccer.
  • Create a practice plan
    • This is a list of things you want to tell your parents and a list of activities that you want to do with your kids. If you put a little thought into this in advance, it will really help you to have a good first practice. If you do not do this, you could very likely have a much tougher start to the season.

At your first practice

Be early!! Nothing is worse than being late as the coach, never be late!!

As soon as any kids show up, start doing soccer activities with them. Very briefly say hello to their parents and the players and start doing soccer stuff with the kids. Tell your parents that you will have a talk with all the parents once they all show up. Otherwise, you’ll end up repeating yourself a lot. Once they all show up, talk to your parents as a group.

Administration stuff with your parents

You have to address some admin stuff at the first practice, there’s no way around it, and you can do it in five or ten minutes, if you know what you want to say in advance. Fortunately, you only have to do this long of a talk once.

First introduce yourself, and tell everyone that soccer is fun, and that you expect to have a great season with lots of fun for everyone. Reassure everyone that it doesn’t matter whether or not their child has ever played before.

  • Kids must wear shin pads; tell the parents this directly.
  • Ask them to bring water for their child at every practice.
  • When are the games? Where are they? Hand out a schedule.
  • Announce your practice cancellation policy.

My policy was to assume that practice was never canceled, unless I called them. We practiced in heat, cold, and light rain. Pouring rain and/or lightning storms, I canceled by calling everyone. Give out your cell and home phone numbers in case they are not sure.

Get a team Parent

A good team Mom is priceless! Your Team Parent takes care of lots of things that will free you up to concentrate on coaching.  A partial list of team mom duties:

  • Organizes snacks.
  • Communicates your practice and game schedule
  • Takes care of team picture day.
  • Organizes the end of season team party.
  • Coordinates end of season gifts, if applicable.

Ask for assistant coaches

Next, ask for assistant coaches, in fact, tell them that they can all be assistant coaches! Often parents want to help, but instead sit on the sidelines and watch. They do this because they do not know that you want them to help, or they feel like they don’t know what to do.

If you want assistant coaches, then you must do two things.

  • Tell your parents that you want them to help and that you need them to help.
  • Tell them that they can show up in shorts and a t-shirt and help whenever they want.

Once they do start to help, you have to let them know what you want them to do.

Parent helpers/assistant coaches are golden, try to get a least two regular ones to help you. I always tell them, “Hey, you are going to be here for an hour anyway, may as well show up in workout gear and get a little exercise in!” It’s more fun for them, and it’s more fun for their kids. You will eventually develop top notch assistant coaches, because while they are helping, they will be learning. Some times, a player leaves your team to go to an older team, or the family moves to another city, and then you will have trained a new head coach to carry forth the good word on youth soccer!

Talk to your kids as a group (with parents listening too)

This lays the ground rules and set the tone for your team right before you start. I tell my kids only three basic things:

  1. Fun is the most important thing.
  2. Please everyone use only your feet, never your hands. (Parents too please)
  3. Ready for some fun? (Yes, I am repeating myself)

Then start playing soccer!


During the season

During the season, there isn’t all that much to do for team management. You run practices at your pre-set times, and you lead the team at matches. Use your email mailing list for announcements as needed.

After the season

Have a team party. It’s a good wrap up and a great place to hand out awards and trophies. It’s a fun way to cap off the season. A team party is mandatory in my opinion.