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Getting Started

Never forget you may just be the best thing happening in a player's life. Soccer may be the best part of their week. Your players will remember you for the rest of their lives… How would you like to be remembered? Please make the deliberate choice to have a positive impact.

Volunteer Coaching is An Awesome Experience

You will never regret having said "yes" to becoming a volunteer coach. It is a large responsibility, and the rewards for helping kids become better players, teammates, and people are huge. Take heart, you have it within you to become a great coach for the kids on your team. Understanding soccer and being able to successfully coach kids how to play is only one aspect of being a coach.

You have advantages! Yes, you do! As a parent you have an understanding of kids most professional coaches do not, a patience born from the trials of caring for kids everyday. You have climbed a learning curve available only to parents. Using the knowledge you've gained through parenting to reach kids is invaluable.

Absolutely take the time learn about how to coach soccer for the benefit of your players but also have confidence you can do well for the kids.

Quick Tips

  • Have patience… it is always greatly appreciated
  • Attend coaching clinics
  • Read online coaching materials
  • Talk with other coaches to get ideas
  • Find an assistant coach who can help you
  • If you are struggling… ask the club for help
  • Find a mentor
  • Never forget the reason kids show up to practice is to be with their friends and to play soccer… not to listen to their coach talk.

Coaching Education

Why Bother?

"I have played soccer since I was a kid, I played in high school/college/adult leagues… Seems to me I know enough already. Don't I?"

Sound familiar? There is no doubt being a player and knowing the game helps with being a coach. There is, however, a big difference between playing and coaching. Every coaching clinic you attend will change how you play, view, and coach the game. Your effort will make you a better coach and your players better as well. Another large component of attending clinics is meeting your fellow coaches and learning from them. Be sure to take advantage of the coaching clinics and other resources included here on the EYSA website.

What is the secret?

USSF teaches coaches to have a theme for each practice and to use a four-stage progression. An example of a theme could be "Improve your team's ability to play through the middle third" or "Improve your team's ability to penetrate through passing and dribbling." All stages in the practice plan need to support the theme.

The higher the level of the Coaching Clinic, the more complex the practice plan and the more knowledge required of the coach to be successful.

What are the Stages?

The four stages are as follows:

Stage 1: Technical warm up; an activity, without defensive pressure, using one or more technical aspects required by your theme.

Stage 2: Small-sided; defensive pressure is introduced with games ranging from1v1 up to 3v3. Again, the games need to relate to the overall theme. Multiple fields are typically needed for this stage to maximize player touches.

Stage 3: Small-sided, expanded; Games using 4v4 up to 5v5 or 6v6. The games chosen should recreate game conditions your players need to improve on based on the practice theme.

Stage 4: Divide your kids into two teams and play. In the past this was simply called "scrimmaging." USSF would like this stage to use two full-size goals. However, within our clubs, this is not always possible, so designate what you intend to use as goals and play.

Along the way you will learn about the coaches toolkit as well as the many ways you can manipulate the rules of a game in order to change the demands on your players to achieve what they need.

What is the Coaches' Toolkit?

The coaches' toolkit instructs coaches on how to interject themselves into the practice to make a coaching point. This requires the coach to first appropriately recognize what has happened during the flow of play with respect to the theme of the practice and to then appropriately coach players in order to improve their play.

There are four basic times/ways the USSF suggests the coach can/should make their coaching points:

  1. Coach in the flow… talk to the players as they play without stopping the game.
  2. Coach to one or two players while play continues. It matters little if their team plays short for 30 seconds.
  3. During natural stoppages… the ball goes out of play or the players simply need a short rest.
  4. The fearsome "Freeze" method. This part of the coaches' toolkit is the most over-used by coaches. The coach shouts, "Freeze!" and everybody and everything stops (including the fun and learning that was going on), then the coach often launches into a far-too-long discussion. A freeze should only be used when dealing with a point involving the entire team. Experienced coaches know that If you freeze your team more than once a month, you have over-used this technique. Kids lose interest if what you have to say lasts more than about 20 seconds. Avoid it like the plague, and if use it you must, use it once during a practice and only during Stage 4.