How do I best coach my son's Gr. 7/8 school soccer team?
September 21, 2013 5:00 PM   Subscribe

I've decided to help out my son's grade 7/8 soccer team this year as a coach but I have no experience with the game or coaching in a team environment. What can I do to make this fun for everyone involved?

Due to a huge turnout for soccer at my son's school this year there are not enough coaches for all of the teams. Or there were until I stuck my hand up to help coach. What's the catch you ask? I have no experience coaching soccer, very little playing experience and I'm not really a huge fan of the game. What I do want to do is help support my son, make sure the soccer team goes ahead and make this whole thing a positive experience for everyone involved.

I'm looking for some advice on how to proceed with practices and games. I've attended one practice with the kids so far and there are some pretty good players on the team; I'm sure they know more about the game than I do. What should I expect from the kids at practice time? What about game time? We have a very short season with two tournament style game days and about 5 practices altogether.

I would appreciate any advice from youth coaches in any sport.
posted by talkingmuffin to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
What other sports are you familiar with/like?
posted by jacalata at 5:26 PM on September 21, 2013


I know hockey quite well (big fan but never a great player) and I'm immersed in competitive road bike racing.
posted by talkingmuffin at 5:32 PM on September 21, 2013


The three things that worked for my son's ballhockey team this past spring was

1) working on clearing the ball out of the end (there were no rules about icing)

2) making sure defence never let anyone get behind them where they couldn't be seen (and could score a goal)

3) working on passing in offensive plays (usually a forward, due to the egocentric nature of their age, would grab the ball and dry to score on his own)

Mastering the first two gave the team a great first half of the season, but working on the teamwork aspect of offensive (simple passing) caused them to choke in the second half as other teams caught up on defense and started to master passing.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:38 PM on September 21, 2013


Are there any other parents with any coaching or playing experience? Do you know anyone who might have such experience? Have you looked for any AYSO forums or blogs? I would search your social circle to find someone who can assist you with this. Here's why--as the season goes on, the good players ( and their parents) will become increasingly frustrated if the team does not continue to improve, even if your teams don't keep score.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:42 PM on September 21, 2013


I'm a long time player and recently did the US Soccer E license (a lot of fun btw and highly recommended). It will depend on what level they are playing at. Is it rec or travel? At that age, they are starting to move from individual skills to develop more team skills. You may also have more diversity of skills and physical ability.

The three L's: No lines, no lectures, no laps. Keep them always moving and always doing soccer stuff.

In general terms the recommended approach in the national curriculum for practices is to build in four phases:

1. technical warm-up. this is an activity, typically solo, possibly with two that is non-competitive and serves as both the warm-up and the technical focus for your practice session. There is not necessarily a separate warm-up that is non-technical, i.e. your warm-up on a day where you're focusing on throw-ins might be gentle lobs and returns by foot.

2. 2 on 2 with optional competitive elements. This might be one of the structured drills you can find a million of online (for example).

3. 3on3 or 4on4 with competitive elements. If you've been practicing attacking, this might be 4 attackers against 2 defenders with rotation after the ball is dead.

4. scrimmage: half the team against the other half. This should be at least 20 minutes of your practice. they need to have fun, but point out coaching points.

In an 11v11 game, the team will typically be organized with a goalkeeper and then (at the simplest) 4+4+2, i.e. 4 defenders, 4 midfielders and two attackers. Staying organized is half the battle (along with teaching patience in possession). It's hard for good players to learn not to be selfish, but it's critical.

During games, nothing you yell from the sidelines will ever be heard (I'm still learning this one). Talk to the substitutes about what you are seeing and coach them until it's time to sub them in.

Always be positive. Give everyone time to play. Focus on them growing in their own way. If a game is going badly, start counting the positive stuff, e.g. how many times they get two passes together.

Lots of pro teams play a warmup game in which five players surround two. The five pass the ball and the two try to get a touch. If one of the two gets a touch, they switch with the person on the outside who made the intercepted pass. This teaches control, passing, pressure, lots of good things.
posted by idb at 6:52 PM on September 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


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