A part of

Issue # 7 Thursday, Dec. 18, 1997

About the Author:

Charles Loyd McIntosh

In 1997 Charles Loyd McIntosh was a news writer for the Talledega Daily Home (www.dailyhome.com). He was a former reporter for The Western Star in Bessemer (a small city west of Birmingham), Alabama, and a former Sports Editor for the Clanton Advertiser. At the time he was writing for the Sideroad, Loyd was pursuing a Masters in English degree at the University of Montevallo, Alabama. An avid sports fan, soccer is Loyd's sport of choice, one he has been known to coach in the recent past.


Coaching Youth Soccer

As a soccer player in high school and on into college, I always, in the back of my mind, thought I might like to coach one day. Although I am not currently coaching now, I have had the opportunity to coach kids from the ages 5 to 19. Moreover, for an American, I think I was fairly good at it, not great, but good.

Although what I am about to talk about may not apply to some of my international readers (since America is still in its infancy in international competition) I would like to spend a few minutes to give a little advice to anyone who might find themselves coaching a youth soccer team for the first time.

One of the first ideas that is important is that of respect. Often times it is difficult to tip-toe the line between authority figure and friend, especially for younger coaches. For myself, this could be more of a problem than it has been in the past considering my young age. I am currently 25 years-old, but began coaching when I was 19.

Kids can tell when you're trying to come off a little too "chummy," and can take advantage of this. This goes for the youngest of kids, not only the teen-agers. Make it clear that you are in control on the field, but, off the field, you don't mind kidding around. You don't want the team to be scared of you, so you don't want to come off as a hard-ass all the time. . .just when it's appropriate.

Another thing new soccer coaches don't understand when they first begin coaching is the idea of movement. In any practice, there should be very little standing around. Too many times coaches set up drills where one or two kids are either shooting, dribbling or passing and the rest are standing around flat footed.

As many coaches know, this can really be a problem with younger kids with limited attention span. Try and involve the team in drills where everyone is in motion. 4V4 games seem to work best. Set up a small field, maybe 25 yards wide by 40 yards long, and separate the players into teams of four. If you have 12 or more players, you may need to make three teams, but, if these drills are done right, no one will stand around very long.

Have the teams of four compete against each other in different variations of soccer. One game that works the best is to set attainable goals. For instance, when a team scores when they complete 10 passes without losing possession. This teaches the importance of passing, as well as movement without the ball. 4v4 games teach players that they cannot stand around and wait for the ball to come to them. Finding space to run into is a skill rarely taught in youth and neighborhood leagues around the US.

Another place where practices break down is shooting drills. Many times, coaches have their players line up and practice shooting onto a goal with the ball at a dead stop. This never happens in a game. Power finesse is another drill that makes kids react and move while allowing for a little bit of fun and competition as well.

To play, separate the team into two lines even with each goal post about 30-35 yards out from goal. Have one coach deliver a ball to a player in one line, as he strikes it with power from 20-25 yards out, deliver a slower ball 10-15 yards in front of goal. After the player strikes the first ball, he must collect himself, and deliver an accurate shot on goal from close range. Alternate lines after each player has taken a turn. It sounds easy, but it is much tougher than it seems.

For more tips on coaching youth soccer, check the following links.

US Youth Soccer Home Page

National Soccer Coaches Association

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Text copyright Charles Loyd MacIntosh, 1997 - '98. Part of the original Sideroad ezine.
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