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Do You Make This Mistake When Coaching Youth Soccer? »

As President of my local soccer club I get a few complaints from parents with regards to some of our coaches. Since I took over about three years ago, I must be honest and say the complaints have decreased, however there is one complaint that comes up consistently every year and throughout the year. Do you know what it is?

The biggest complaint I receive from parents is that the coach is not giving their child sufficient game time. The complaint not only comes from parents with children in the older age groups, unfortunately it also comes from junior teams as well, sometimes as low as U6. I must clarify at the outset, that I am talking about club youth soccer here, not elite representative [tag-tec]soccer[/tag-tec] where players are playing at a much higher level and have undergone a rigorous trial and grading process.

I must admit, when I first started coaching youth soccer, I was guilty of this as well. My attitude was more about winning the game and I would always look to put my strongest team on the field. If this mean’t that a couple of the weaker players in the team only got limited time, well unfortunately that was the sacrifice that had to be made for the team to be successful. I have always been a very competitive person and hated losing so I would not accept defeat well. It was very quickly pointed out to me the error of my ways.

One of the most important things that you have to know about [tag-tec]coaching youth soccer[/tag-tec] is that the emphasis should never be on winning games. The kids that you are teaching should be able to do what they are supposed to do in a [tag-tec]soccer[/tag-tec] game but always the emphasis should be on having fun and on learning the rules while they play and not on results.

Give each of the children equal playing time. It doesn’t matter if some of them don’t get it or they aren’t very good at playing soccer. This isn’t the point of learning how to play soccer. You want to be sure that you are able to have each of the kids play for the same amount of time and when it comes to various positioning, you want to be sure that you provide the child an opportunity to try out different field positions. This is something that is very important when coaching youth soccer because you have to be sure that you are teaching them correctly. One of the most important things that you can do when [tag=tec]coaching youth soccer[/tag-tec], is make sure that everyone is getting a fair amount of game time and that no one is feeling like they are being left out.

I know as a coach sometimes the players you have in your team are not always at the same level. This becomes especially difficult if you are coaching a higher graded team and there have been players graded in your team with lesser ability. Having been involved in numerous grading processes within our club, we don’t always get it right and unfortunately, due to team size restrictions, we have to place players in teams that do not necessarily match their abilities.

In conclusion, when coaching youth soccer, if you are in a position to have a number of reserves in the team, ensure everyone gets a good run on the field and share the substitutions around amongst all players. This will lead to greater team harmony both on and off the field and also provide you with a greater opportunity to coach the children and for all players to learn more about the game.

Good luck with it and I welcome any comments on your experiences as either a coach or a parent.

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  1. 1 Comment(s)

  2. By Volunteer coach on Feb 16, 2011 | Reply

    Problem with the not about winning ideal, which I try to uphold, is this – if the leauge is not recreation and is a select club or select teams, the parents expect their kids teams to win or at least go 51%. If the team does not do so, then they complain about the coach and that coach would likely not last. Rarely is the coach of a team in 1st or 2nd place ever complained about unless the coach is a total fool.

    Equal playing time for recreation venues for sure. For more competitive venues, unless its mandated, the time is *earned by 2 main factors, practice participation and effort, childs overall ability to play, which also means might be tired and need or want to rest.

    Parent pay a large sum of money for kids who make and are on select and travel teams. They put in a lot of time and money with trainers too if they make a team. Chances are if you make the team, show at practices you will get a fair shot, unless you are not keeping up and your are clearly no pulling fair share. The rest of the parents will not want to see team lose if they all feel certain kid(s) can;t keep up.

    You are not doing the child a favor by setting up an entitlement system. Sends the wrong message.

    If not getting the playing time, ask why and be perpared for the answers. Maybe it turned out that the child is not yet ready for the higher level competition.

    Most yougner kids even in shape could not play a full 1/2 as younger kids tire easy. So frequent subbing is often called for anyway.

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