All players are individuals that develop at different stages. A coaching session for different age groups must be based on the principles of good technique, player participation, small-sided games, and enjoyment.
Technical Skill - This is the most important component of a young soccer player. At this age it should be the aim of the coach to provide games and activities to enhance their technical level of play. Practices should be structured to allow repetition and progression so that your players can improve in all aspects of their development and technical ability.
Player Participation- Player participation is important to keeping young players interested in soccer. The coach should look to use all players in every game/activity to keep them involved, while allowing repeated touches of the soccer ball. The more they play, the more they will enjoy what they are doing and the chance they have of improving their level of play.
Small-Sided Games - Games using 3v3 and 4v4, allow all players to be more actively involved. It gives each player more touches on the ball which allows players to have more opportunities to practice their technique. 3v3 and 4v4 are simplified versions of the 11v11 game they will play when they are older. Young players must be exposed to these small-sided situations to learn how to attack, defend, and improve their technique with pressure from opponents.
Enjoyment - The main reason most young children play is because it’s fun. They prefer to be constantly in motion and not standing around waiting for the ball. Fun activities and small-sided games have replaced immobile drills and large scrimmages. They are more enjoyable and educational.
Qualities Of A Good Coach
Enthusiasm - A coach can greatly improve the success of any training session by showing enthusiasm and energy. The first 10 minutes of your training session is very important to set the standards you require. Your enthusiasm will rub off on your players and will inspire them to a greater performance. Provide positive feedback to your players an encourage them to challenge themselves during the training session.
Planning - A good coach will always plan their training sessions. You must be able to make the best use of the fields, equipment and players. Correct organization includes allocating the appropriate space to the players for each game/activity. This depends on the skill level of the players. All practices should be realistic and relate to the game in some way. Games and activities should be clear and simple so the players understand the organization and purpose of the practice. Well organized sessions will progress with a purpose and you’ll see the player’s enjoyment with maximum benefits. A badly organized session will have many delays, the games/activities will take too long to work, and the players will not progress effectively or enjoy the practice
Observation - A good coach will be able to observe that the practice is organized correctly according to the needs of the players. You may decide more space is required to make a game/activity more effective or less space to make it more challenging. The attitude of the players should also be observed. If they are not stimulated by the drill or game it could be due to bad organization, or lack of challenge within the game or activity. If the group is not performing one aspect of a skill very well, the practice should be stopped and the relevant coaching points should be made. If the practice is too difficult it should be simplified, otherwise the players will become disheartened. If the practice is too easy for the players, the coach should progress the game or activity to make it more challenging. Individual players should be observed. Players who can perform the tasks with ease should be further challenged by the coach to keep them progressing.
Communication - The coach can communicate through demonstration and speech. A good coach can make technically correct demonstrations that set a standard for players to achieve. Speech should accompany demonstration. It should be clear, brief and easy to understand. Do not spend too much time lecturing players during a training session, it’s ok to stop a session to explain a point, but make this brief and allow the game/activity to continue.
SWSC Director of Coaching