Winning in youth soccer
Could your team compete and win against the best European and South American sides your age? Would a top youth coach classify your competition as top notch? If so you are definitely going in the right direction and have done a great service to your young players. If not you may want to rethink your game strategy. Is winning every game more important then concentrating on developing individual and team skills that will last a life time? I tend to think that up until u14 or u 15 developing individual and team skills should be the most important aspect of youth soccer, not winning. Of course everyone wants to be a champion, it is ingrained in the American Psyche. So what do you do? You play to win but emphasize that skills come first and that you are more interested in proper execution and team play than wins or losses. Believe me if you can develop top individual skills and good team play the goals will come.
Remember youth players will do whatever the coach and parents demand as they want to please and win their favor. Players will try their best to do what the coach wants, but if they do not own at least the basic skills they will only get frustrated by trying, not able to execute the game properly. Sure they may win games against weaker or even better teams but they are only fooling themselves if they think they are really good players. I compare just playing to win without emphasizing good skills to forcing a grammar school student to read a high school book he or she is not yet ready for. It will never bring a good result.
You can make a decision at the start of the season to raise your team’s entire skill level as your goal for the season. The level of each individual player can be noted at the beginning and end of each season.
Be sure to give praise immediately when any improvements are noticed. This is a critical part of successful youth coaching. It is best to point out any mistakes after giving praise for something you have seen the player do well. I once had a very successful coach who would have a team meeting the day after each game and go from player to player pointing out all of the good things he saw him do in the game and all of the areas he saw that needed work, all from memory. He got so much respect and love from the player because we knew that he really cared about us because all of his remarks were right on point. Because we got positive feedback first the criticism was well received.
There are many fun drills designed to build individual technique that when used will quickly improve a players game. There are also soccer training aids that can greatly help your players improve their individual skills.
In the end your players will remember you and be grateful to you for what you did for them as individuals in improving them as players and as a coach you will feel the satisfaction of knowing you have helped young players toward reaching their potential. This is winning in a real sense.
By Richard Moore – Inventor of
The Kick Coach
I was born in Trenton, N.J. and grew up in a soccer hot bed. Have been playing soccer since I was seven years old and played on several top ranked U.S. soccer teams, an under 19 Junior team, New Jersey All Stars who traveled to Europe and Mercer County Junior College.
I studied business in college and always enjoyed creating new things.
The culmination of all my soccer experience and creative abilities have merged into an innovative soccer training aid that is second to none. It is my goal to enable as many young soccer players as possible to supplement their soccer training to enable them to get the most out of their soccer experience. t