Working with Young Athletes
It is important as a coach that you subscribe to a philosophy that acknowledges the role of athletics in developing children as complete individuals. Remember that AYSO’s vision is to provide soccer programs that enrich children’s lives.
As coaches we need to recognize that each athlete is an individual with unique needs and that we treat them accordingly:
- Understand that players want to enjoy attending practices and games. If they are not having fun and learning, they will lose interest and not want to return.
- Organize your activities and games so that every athlete on your team has an opportunity to develop and maintain positive feelings of self-worth.
- Provide positive encouragement to all players for both accomplishments and mistakes.
Play in this very young age group is meant to give a “taste” of the game, some experience in working together as a team, and, most of all; a positive introduction to the sports experience.
One of the appealing things about soccer as a youth sport is that practically no skills at all are required to play the game at its simplest level. If a youngster can run and can kick a ball, he or she can play soccer and enjoy it.
If we understand and support player development as both athletes and individuals, the players will enjoy themselves more and want to continue playing. We must help them understand that the objective of any game is to win, but that the overall goal is to enjoy the game and strive to do their best!
What to Expect From Kinder Players
Remember that kids will develop differently, both physically and socially. You must take the needs of ALL of your players into consideration.
Physical/Gross Motor Development:
- are in the early stages of development
- can run, jump, and skip well; motor skills are continuing to develop have lots of energy, although in bursts; they tend to tire quickly
- can perform runs, starts and stops
- can’t sit still for long
- may have fears of the unknown
- experience rapid and unpredictable mood changes
- tell tall tales
- need encouragement
- may have difficulty sharing
- crave praise and attention
- do not like to repeat
- lack judgment regarding their own safety and abilities
- don’t think logically
- ask lots of questions
- are fond of stories