How can I be the best pee wee soccer coach?
August 12, 2009 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Help me be a good Pee Wee Soccer coach.

I signed up to coach my 5 year old's pee wee soccer team and our first practice is next week. I want to plan practices and interactions in such a way that the kids will have a lot of fun and come back next year. I understand that the key is to not overcoach a pee wee team and that our overall team strategy will be "KICK THAT BALL!" but I'd like to at least foster some basic dribbling/passing/kicking skills.

Coaches and parents of pee wee kids - what are some practice drills/games that have resonated with your kids? What advice do you wish you had received (or given your kid's coach)?

Bonus questions:

(1) one of my players has a severe nut allergy. In dealing with parent sign-ups for snacks/drinks after practices and games (this is apparently a time-honored tradition) should I request that they be entirely nut-free or should I independently prepare a nut-free alternative myself?

(2) one of the common complaints I heard from parents who had kids in the program in years past is that the kids didn't really get to know each other. One thought I had is inviting parents to stick around with their kids for a half hour or so after practice at the playground adjacent to the practice field. I think this would be good for the kids' socialization and it would be totally optional but don't want parents to feel like this is an extra chore or a strange solicitation. If your pee wee coach said "my kid and I plan to play at the playground for a bit after practice; anyone is welcome to join us," would that be weird or welcome?
posted by AgentRocket to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
just don't be to serious and over aggressive. There's an asshole that coaches in the park next to my house, and he's a total douchbag.
posted by ducktape at 10:34 AM on August 12, 2009

My Dad has a web site that attempts to help out coaches & parents. There is also a Q&A section that might have some specific advice for soccer.

MeMail me your address, and I'll send you his book. It's specifically about coaching football, but the beginning might give you some insights.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:46 AM on August 12, 2009

Look, pee wee is the one with the 30x20 yards field and no goalie? if it is, don't insist on them playing defense and attack -- their tendency will be of simply chasing the ball, all of them -- most of them. it's a lot of fun.

just try to teach them how to kick the ball to try and control it a bit -- they should hit the ball in the middle, not with the toes but with the laces of their shoes

just let them have fun and run like hell, it's great

pick the shyest child and make him/her the captain, armband and all. make it a big deal.
posted by matteo at 10:47 AM on August 12, 2009

Just realize that not every kid is destined to be the next great soccer star, and not every kid has a win-at-all-costs competitive streak in them. At that age the focus should be primarily on fun, and on fundamentals - in that order.

Hopefully you're not one of those coaches (and every parent of kids who have played sports has run across them) who takes the whole coaching gig way too seriously and personal.

Finally, be polite but firm when drawing the lines between the pushy parents and your duties as a coach. Make sure everyone gets to play an equal amount of time, and that all the kids receive the same amount of attention/coaching from you at practice and games (which is not an easy task).

Spoken as the father of three former youth soccer players.
posted by doh ray mii at 11:27 AM on August 12, 2009

No coaching tips, but I wanted to chime in to say that I love the idea of inviting everyone to stick around after practices and games to play at the park. The kids will like it and it will be good for the parents to get to know each other. A lot of my good friends are people I met because of my kid.

As for the snack business, you may want to ask the parent of the child with the allergy how they'd like it handled. They may not be able to trust that snacks provided by other parents will be safe for their kid. Consult with them to come up with a strategy they're comfortable with.

Hope you have lots of fun!
posted by Kangaroo at 11:41 AM on August 12, 2009

Be sure you have a couple of simple drills set up at the very beginning of practice. As soon as the kids run through a couple times and seem to start getting bored, switch drills. Always do your most set-up intensive drills first as they will have zero patience for down time. Plan plenty of time for just plain playing soccer into the last half to 3/4 of every practice. This is what the kids are there for, not your stupid drills.

A good tip I got from a great coach was always wear the same thing, something distinctive (like a bright shirt) at practice and games. Tell the kids to look for that article of clothing. Their parents and everyone else on the sidelines are going to be barking at them during the games, but it is YOU that they should be focusing on for instruction. The quicker they can pick YOU out the faster the right messages get through.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:18 PM on August 12, 2009

Keep in mind that most peewee soccer games involve all the kids in a big group following the ball with some kids standing around picking the weeds in the grass.

Make sure you attempt to teach skills but are not too harsh on them.

Make it fun.

Keep in mind pee wee soccer games arent very soccer like lol.
posted by majortom1981 at 1:30 PM on August 12, 2009

My biggest advice for practice (as someone who coached and helped coach girls soccer) is to keep as many of the kids as possible as busy as possible. Anything you have planned that requires the majority of them to stand in line is going to be very difficult to do.

Along those lines: Try to have as many balls as possible at practice (you can ask everyone who has a ball to bring it with them to practice). This is so that, if you do decide on some drills, more kids can be doing them at the same time.

More balls also means that when you have them scrimmaging, you can immediately throw a new ball into the mix as the current one is kicked out. This keeps them in constant motion and (better yet) keeps them from running out of the field chasing down errant balls.

Regarding the excellent distinctive clothes idea by Pollomacho: I was lucky enough to coach for a league that put the kids and coaches on one side of the field, and the parents on the other. If this is possible for you to arrange, do it.
posted by kajj at 1:34 PM on August 12, 2009

Please consider the normal abilities of your child and his skills and interests. Five year olds aren't really so much interested in winning as they are about waving to the rents, wearing uniforms, and figuring out other kids. A great goal is getting them interested in excercise. Don't forget about basic warm ups, and maybe try to create one that they do in pairs to foster friendships.

Be a fair and kind coach, teach the kids respect and you will have done a wonderful job.

Best of luck!
posted by littleflowers at 6:01 AM on August 13, 2009

I played soccer at this age. It was a cluster of kids chasing the ball. There were no positions. Our coach tried, but it didn't work out. Two or three kids would stay in their positions for a few minutes, realize they weren't even trying to get the ball and then just join the cluster. This repeated itself several times with different kids.

It took until about 7 when I started playing a position, as did other kids.

In terms of practice, everyone needs to keep busy at that age. 2 versus 1 keep away games were best and very tiring. If the 1 got the ball away from one of the 2, the person who lost it would then become the one who had to try and steal it. It encouraged excellent ball handling and passing skills. I'm sure you'll get many other suggestions for practice ideas.

I played soccer through high school and it was a blast.

Our teams always did orange wedges for half time, brought in by a different parent each game.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:25 AM on August 13, 2009

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