Jan 17, 12
There are many youth soccer coaching tips out there but the truth of the matter is that many of them don’t work. Those that do, only work in certain scenarios. Let’s take a local recreational league, for example. You will typically be given a team from a random blind draft, excluding your own child if you are a parent coach.
Since it is a recreational league, you will have players with varying levels of experience and skills. You will be limited in the number of days and hours you are allowed to practice and you will have a limited amount of time to get to know your team. This means that it is very important to begin developing skills in your players quickly.
You need to get to their level, face your players one-on-one and learn something about each and every one of them so that you are better capable of coaching to their needs. When you help the individual player improve and build confidence, you also help the entire team build confidence. That’s really what it’s all about.
One way that I do this is to give a coaching survey about half way through my season. This allows me to gather information about my players, what they are enjoying about practice, what their personal goals are and more. I try to make this as quick and as simple as possible so that little practice time is lost and take the answers home with me to read later.
There is a wealth of information that can be obtained from these surveys. They should be created with age and maturity level in mind and always start with an ice-breaker question like “what’s your favorite team” or something to loosen them up and help them feel comfortable answering the questions. Be sure to emphasize there are no right or wrong answers and that they are each free to give their own answers however they choose.
Then let the team know that you will be implementing some of the best or most popular suggestions into future practices. This shows them that you really care about what they think and feel and it gives them some power over their own team. This builds confidence and team-building skills.
This is the survey that I use for my 9-11 age group soccer team:
Soccer Survey – Fill it out and get a “treat” at the end of practice!
- What’s your favorite soccer team? __________________
- What do you like MOST about our practices? ________________________________________________
- What do you like the LEAST about our practices? ____________________________________________________
- What could we add/change to make your practices more fun? __________________________________________________
- What is your single most important question, issue or problem when it comes to learning soccer? _______________________________________________
- What skills would you like to learn more about or improve? _______________
- Why did you decide to play soccer? __________________________________
- What can I do to make you feel better at practice? _____________________
- What main goal would you like to achieve by playing soccer? _______________________________________________________________
- How would you rate your current coaching sessions: “very bad”, “bad”, “ok”, “good” or “very good”? ______________________
Is there anything else you’d like to add?*
I use Icee pops as a treat at the end of practice when all the kids had worked up a good sweat.
There are many things to learn from the answers to a survey like this. You can use it to help develop future practices, meet the needs of individual players and to help the players learn to play together and support one another as a team. This is one of the best youth soccer coaching tips you will ever learn and it’s easy enough to put it into action today.
*The survey I use is a variation of one suggested by The Youth Soccer Coaching Manifesto.