When it comes to youth soccer coaching, there are many responsibilities that you will have as the coach. You need to be a leader of both the players and the parents and you help set the stage and the mood for the game. You also need to be able to create a game plan and provide technical instruction to the players in order to play the best game possible.
Another part of game day coaching is to learn what is best discussed at a practice instead of at a game. Players have a lot of pressure on them already on game day and they will only be able to absorb so much. Usually parents are adding to the mix with advice and other pressures and it can be too much for young players.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Game day is not the time to address things the team is doing wrong unless it’s to point out a small and specific detail that the players have already been taught.
Game day is not the time to teach new skills. If you have one particular player who learns quickly and is having trouble with something in the game, you can provide them with a pointer but don’t try to cover an entire new skill, play or formation on game day. Stick with what you already know and save the new stuff for practice day.
The players will mimic your attitude and behavior. Win or lose, the players see you as a role model. They feed off of your energy and they will mimic how you behave on game day.
You should never yell at a player or call them out on the field in front of their peers (teammates and other team). Avoid comments like, “Johnny where were you for that?” or “Sandy, they scored because you were not in position.” This can embarrass the player and damage their self esteem which affects their performance for the rest of the game and can even affect their opinion of the sport as a whole. Remember they are children.
One of the most important pieces of advice you can learn about youth soccer coaching is that not every issue can be handled at the game. On game day, players should be focused on the game at hand. Things should remain as simple as possible and depending on their age range, you should not try to hit them with too many things at once. Players at this level typically put a great deal of pressure on themselves to play well so they will need a lot of encouragement and praise from you as well as constructive criticism when needed.