Our past coaches have put together some important tips.
- Always attend the 15 minute clinic given before the daily session.
- Always arrive early to ready the field and the balls before the first player arrives.
- Greet every player by name and tell them good-bye by name. (You might want to bring adhesive name tags to help you learn & remember the kids’ names.)
- Smile as often as you can.
- When you are talking to a player, go on one-knee to get on their eye-level, and keep the sun behind the kids.
- Bring the team snack the first day (then get a parent to organize a snack schedule for the rest of the season).
- Bring some masking tape or name tags and put the players name on their jersey just like the real soccer players in the Olympics. This will help you learn their names. Do the name game in week 1 and again in week 2.
- Have a name for your team before the first day. This way you can call them Blue Woodpeckers or Red Woodpeckers, rather than team 12.
- At the end of practice, bring them into a huddle and have them cheer their fun.
- Remember the sense of being on the edge of chaos is normal when coaching this age group. If the best laid plans seem to suddenly fall apart, just call a water break or start them on a new game.
- Never spend more than 40 seconds describing a skill or technique. Never make the players wait in line to practice a skill or technique. Lines are the devil's instruments to problems like fooling around with your buddy, wandering off, forgetting why you are in line, losing your ball, etc.
- Call at least three water breaks during the hour. Keep the little ones hydrated.
- When providing "training" or corrections, use the phrase: "Let me show you a trick with that..", or some equally engaging and encouraging lead in.
- Scrimmage at least 20 minutes. They came to play soccer, make sure they get to 'play'.
- Identify those players who are more aggressive or more skilled and create 3v3 squads based on intensity level. This will allow all players to participate in the scrimmages equally.
- If you should have a player on your team who is developmentally challenged, go out of your way to make him or her feel special. The other children will follow your lead.
- Remember there is at least a three week delay between teaching a skill and the player learning it. So don't conclude that your instruction is flawed simply because no one seems to get it at first.
- Tears of frustration are developmentally normal. What can coaches and parents do? Acknowledge the tears, give the player a pat on the back, and send him/her back into the game when they are ready to play.