TOPIC: Coaching the Youth Player
CHILD PROTECTION THE BASICS 3 years, 6 months ago #594
Child protection: the basics
It's a sad fact that many children are abused sexually, emotionally or physically. Often, the person committing the abuse isn't even aware that what the've done is wrong.
As a soccer coach you are in a unique position to spot any signs of abuse among your children. It is vital, therefore, that you are able to recognise the signs of abuse and know what to do if you suspect anything untoward.
You also have a responsibility not to abuse the children in your care by bullying or criticising them in front of their peers. You must also make sure that you do not expose your children to extremes of weather, leave your children unsupervised, tell them to 'get on with it!' when they have been injured or train them in an over intense way or in a way inappropriate to their age.
All these are forms of child abuse.
Your club should have a Child Welfare Officer (CWO) whose job it is to brief the club coaches about their responsibilities in this area. But if you are either working on your own or within a club that has no CWO you'll have to teach yourself about this important and sensitive subject.
There are a lot of resources and advice available. I strongly advise you to go on a course or - as a minimum - research the subject on the internet because your prime duty is to safeguard the children in your care.
A few tips:
Treat all players and children with respect and dignity befitting of their age;
Watch your language, tone of voice and where you put your body.
You must not:
Engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games including horseplay;
Coach children on your own;
Allow or engage in inappropriate or intrusive touching of any kind;
Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged;
Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in "fun";
Let allegations a child makes go unchallenged or unrecorded;
Invade the privacy of children when they are changing, showering or going to the toilet;
Doing things of a personal nature that children can do for themselves. e.g. help with changing;
Spend excessive amounts of time alone with children away from others;
Take children alone on car journeys, however short;
Take children to your home.
As a soccer coach you hold a position of trust and should never put yourself in a situation where that trust might be questioned.
What to say to player during match 3 years, 5 months ago #624
Lost in Translation
By Susan Boyd
Watching my grandson's soccer game last week, I was reminded that even when we think kids aren't listening, they really are, it's just that they don't understand us. But they try, because they want to please us. The following results come from some of the most confusing and therefore entertaining vignettes of my journey through youth soccer.
* A U6 coach attempted to exhort his tiny players to get more energy into the game. "Come on. Pick it up you guys." With some confusion the team paused to consider this instruction. "What are you stopping for? I said pick it up." With a shrug of his shoulders, one player ran over to the ball rolling across the field, and picked it up.
* At an indoor game the teams were 3v3 using the smaller Pugg goals. When the players came out for the second half, we noticed that the team on the near side only had two players on the field. The coach started to laugh, walked over to the goal and pulled the third player out of the far back edges of the Pugg. "But you told me to get in goal," the frustrated 5-year-old shouted.
* During a particularly combative U10 game, the coach of one team was continually barking instructions to his players. One girl seemed frozen unable to respond to the increasingly strident orders from her coach. Finally, on the verge of tears she turned to him, "What do you mean goal-side? Which side of the goal?"
* In a post game dissection, the coach, trying to explain passing, asked if anyone could do a cross. A player popped up his hand. "I can do that. We do it before we pray."
* Once when Robbie was playing in a 3v3 tournament he got the ball and began to dribble down the field. I cheered, or so I thought, "Go Robbie go!" He stopped immediately. Stomping his foot, he yelled right at me "I'm running as fast as I can."
* When Bryce was 8 he used to run behind the goal during defensive plays. It took us a couple weeks to piece it all together. The coach told him to defend the far post.
* Innovation saved the day when a U8 girl was admonished several times during the game to "mark her man." First of all it was a girls game and second of all she had nothing to write with. After the fourth or fifth insistence a light bulb went on. She picked up some dirt, ran over to the sidelines, rubbed it on her father, and then looked proudly to her coach.
* Another coach explaining defensive midfield to his young player was telling him that he needed to move up during offense and then run back during defense. Unfortunately he said "I need you to straddle both lanes." A bowling reference in a soccer pep talk just doesn't cut it.
We parents all too often forget that what we know about the world we learned through decades of experience. What seems abundantly clear to us comes across as confusing and occasionally ridiculous to our half-pint players. Bless them for wanting to do the right thing, so we need to just enjoy the ride.
It may be a cliché, but it's true: they are young for such a short time. Let them invent their world. What they discover can be more fun to experience with them than what we try so hard to teach them. Their fresh minds can translate life into adventure.
(Susan Boyd blogs each Monday on USYouthSoccer.org, you can read her blogs as well as others at www.USYouthSoccer.org .)
Adults and their funny instructions 3 years, 4 months ago #630
Adults and their funny instructions
By Mike Woitalla
In last week's Youth Soccer Insider ( "Lost in Translation"), Susan Boyd shared some priceless examples of adult sideline instructions that were misinterpreted - to say the least -- by the young children they were aimed at and yielded some humorous responses. The piece prompted our readers to share some of their own, and jogged my memory of some of the most entertaining "advice" I've heard from adults at youth soccer fields.
Daniel and Nancy Cohen said their son was playing ball with his grandfather, who told him "keep your eye on the ball." The boy walked over to his grandfather and put his eye right next to the ball.
"I explained to my team," Jim Froslid recounted, "that when the ball goes over the touchline, I want us to take our throw-ins as soon as possible in order to 'catch the other team sleeping.' After the game I asked if everyone had fun and the girl in the back raised her hand and said, 'Coach I did not see any players on the other team with their eyes closed when we took our throw-ins."'
Monica McMillan reported that at her 7-year-old daughter's first soccer practice, the coach shouted "dribble, dribble." Because she had only ever seen her cousins playing basketball, she picked up the ball and started bouncing it with her hands.
I once heard a coach yell at 6-year-olds, "Give him a target on the flank!" What are the odds, I thought, that the youngsters had any idea what that meant? Never mind they could barely kick the ball 10 yards.
Eavesdropping on a coach addressing his 9-year-old troops at halftime, I heard him commanding that, "We need to neutralize No. 10!" The No. 10 managed to stay happily un-neutralized in the second half
One of my all-time favorites: A U-10 coach screamed, "Over here! Over here!" at the top of his lungs while a little goalkeeper had the ball in his hands. The coach apparently wanted the keeper to send the ball to the right wing. And so the keeper punted the ball - more precisely than I imagined he had the skill for - and it rolled out of bounds, right to the coach's feet. Well done!
8 essential rules for coaching kids 3 years, 2 months ago #644
8 essential rules for coaching kids
While you can (and should) play to win matches, your prime objective as a youth soccer coach should be to create the right conditions for your players to enjoy themselves, get fit and develop new skills. They can experience all this while doing what they enjoy most - kicking a ball about.
However, to achieve this outcome you need to remember these 8 essential rules:
Have a plan but be flexible - if the plan isn't working, do something else!
Plan age-appropriate coaching sessions - always bear the physical and mental capabilities of your players in mind.
Focus on ball skills rather than tactics - do not waste time trying to teach tactics to players who can't pass the ball properly.
Give your players as much playing time as possible - players don't learn anything sitting on the bench except, perhaps, that their coach is not interested in them as a player or as a person.
Accept everyone into your team or club - all children deserve the chance to succeed.
Communicate your coaching philosophy to parents before you start - if parents know what you are trying to do, they can't complain later.
Have clear rules (not guidelines) regarding behaviour - everyone should be made aware of how you expect them to behave.
Avoid getting sucked in to a 'win-at-all-costs' mentality - that is when you stop being a coach and the team starts playing for your benefit instead.
The search for youth soccer's Holy Grail 2 years, 10 months ago #760
The search for youth soccer's Holy Grail
To be able to coach a team of four- to six-year-olds who look up and pass the ball around like a mini-Manchester United seems to be a Holy Grail for many youth soccer coaches.
But if you listen to coaches shouting "pass!" and "spread out!" to players who are trying their hardest to get within touching distance of the ball, you will realise there is a disconnect between what the coach wants the players to do and what the players want to do.
Why is that?
As I've mentioned before, very young children (up to the age of about seven) are egocentric. That doesn't mean they are selfish, they just lack the ability to see the world from another person's viewpoint. They certainly don't see what you see when you look at a soccer pitch. They just see the ball, and they want to play with it.
Children up to the age of seven have other characteristics that a soccer coach needs to be aware of. Four- to seven-year-olds have, for example, a relatively high centre of gravity. This means they will sometimes seem unco-ordinated and no amount of practice will change that.
They also have a limited control of their body's motor systems. A youth soccer coach should, therefore, spend time on balance and co-ordination activities that do not require the use of a ball. Playing games that involve balancing a bean bag, for example, will indirectly improve your players' ball skills.
Players from the age of seven begin to appreciate that other people may have a different view of the world from their own. This is the time when they begin to understand the concept of a 'team'. Up to this point, there is no team, only 'me'.
But before you encourage your seven-year-olds to move away from the ball and each other, they must:
Be able to control a pass without the ball bouncing away from them.
Be able to pass the ball accurately over 10 yards.
Be able to shield the ball from pressure.
Understand WHY they need to space themselves out on the pitch.
But many coaches, especially the ones you see screaming from the touch line, don't do this. They expect a group of players with rudimentary soccer skills to spread themselves out and pass to each other simply because they are told to do it. It doesn't work that way.
You have to give your players the tools first. Only when you can put a tick against every one of the above learning points can you expect your players to even consider moving away from the ball by a few feet.
In the next newsletter I'll suggest several ways that you can do this.
Have a go hero!
This game encourages your players to work as a team and get their heads up.
To improve shooting skills and decision making.
Number of players:
The whole squad divided into two teams.
Create a 40 yards by 30 yards playing area with a halfway line. Place a goal at either end of the playing area. Half of each team enter each half of the playing area. For example, if you have two teams of six, three from each team go in each half. Goalkeepers are optional.
How to play:
Play soccer with the following conditions:
A shot on target is worth one point if you are using goalkeepers.
A goal scored from the attacking half is worth two points.
A goal scored from the defensive half is worth three points.
No player may cross the halfway line.
Play first to 10 points wins. All restarts are from the goalkeeper if you are using them.
Praise players who take their chances decisively.
If you play with a goalkeeper, encourage forwards to follow up shots.
For younger children, make the goal bigger and the playing area shorter.
Steve's Coaching Clinic
Should this manager play to win?
"I have recently started helping out with a local U7s boys team that my son plays for. We have nine players but can only play seven at a time during matches. Recently, we have been subbing the 'weaker' players during matches, but ensuring they get at least 20 minutes of soccer over two 20 minutes games.
"We have heard rumours of some disgruntled parents complaining that it is always their child who seem to be subbed. This is effecting the players' confidence and parents find it hard explaining the situation to their children.
"The team manager's view is we play to win, and the weaker players have to accept this and just keep trying hard at training to impress. My view is the children are only seven-years-old and winning isn't the most important thing. Having fun and enjoying their soccer is.
"I appreciate that life won't always be 'rosy' for them, but I think it would be better to have a rota-style system where every child gets at least 30 minutes soccer every week (out of a possible 40 minutes over two games). Have you ever come across this kind of situation before and what advice would you give?"
There are a lot of coaches who take the same view as your manager. The inevitable consequence of this is the 'weaker' players get less game time and less opportunity to improve - it's a vicious circle.
There are probably three or four 'weaker' players in your team and they are the ones who get to play 20 minutes (good). But you can guarantee they will never play a full match (not so good).
I have to say that your manager has it half right. At least he does give all the players 20 minutes' match time. But he really ought to go one step further and share out the playing time equally. Seven players, playing a total of 40 minutes = 280 player minutes.
Divide that by the number of players in your squad (9) and you get a little over 31 minutes. That's how long each player should play if you have an equal playing time policy. Of course, it's impossible to give every player exactly the same playing time, but you should try to give all of them about 30 minutes each.
It's not in the players' or the team's best interests to give the 'weaker' players 20 minutes and the stronger players 40. As I've said before, players won't improve by sitting on the bench! You should try to convince your manager that he (I assume it's a 'he') should not be overly concerned by winning matches with seven-year-olds.
It's far better to have a longer term plan that is designed to instill a love of the game in all your players, and develop all their soccer skills as much as possible. Neither of these will be achieved if you take the view that seven-year-olds are either 'weak' or 'strong'. They are far too young to be judged in that way.
As you say, some parents are grumbling about their children having less match time than the rest. At the very least, your manager should be up front with them and explain why they are not getting a full game (or even a fair share of the game).
Then the parents will know where they stand and can decide if they want their child to continue to play for a club that values winning above player development. You can test any policy or decision in youth soccer by asking, 'is what I'm doing in the best interests of the children?' In this case, I think the answer is 'no'.
GOLDEN RULES OF COMMUNICATION 2 years, 7 months ago #819
Which of these golden rules of communication are you breaking?
1. Know your players' names – and use them!
I find it hard to remember names. But I've worked on it because it's so important. How would you feel if you went to a meeting every week, took an active role but the person in charge didn't know your name? It wouldn't make you feel very good about going to that meeting, would it?
It's the same for young soccer players. You should get into the habit of greeting every player by name as they arrive at training or matches and asking how they are doing.
Being friendly and interested in your players as people – not just as players – is the first step to successful communication.
Tips for remembering names:
Drop the excuses. Telling yourself you can't remember names because you have a bad memory is like telling your dentist you haven't been brushing your teeth because you lost your toothbrush – it's rubbish!
Concentrate hard on players' names. Listen to them and use them during the training session or match.
If you forget a name, apologise and ask the player to tell you what it is. Don't worry about seeming forgetful – you need to know!
Repeat names to yourself, silently.
Address players by their names during the session and when they leave.
Write your players' names down afterwards.
2. K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple, Stupid!
The easiest way to lose a group of young soccer players is to make them listen to long-winded instructions. Think about how you are going to explain a drill or game before you go to training sessions - not when you get there – and if you can't explain it in 30 seconds or less – don't use it!
And never use jargon.
3. Telling is good but showing is better.
Demonstrations are a great way to communicate with your players and I suggest you try showing your players what you want them to do instead of talking to them about it. But the demonstration has to be good! If you can't perform the skill or technique yourself, don't be embarrassed, just find someone who can. It could be a fellow coach, a parent or a player.
Perhaps the most important part of communication is listening. Take the time to find out what your players want from your coaching sessions. Ask them what they think of the drills and games you use and find out what they want to play. You need to have your own objectives for a session but you can let your players choose a game occasionally.
If your players are old enough it's good practice to let them run a whole session sometimes. Let them design a session that works on the skill or technique they think they need to be better at.
5. Tell your players what you expect of them – and what they can expect of you.
We all want hard work, concentration and focus from our players but have you explained to them why you want them to work hard?
Explain that you will help them become the best soccer players they can possibly be but they have to help you in return by listening to you and giving 100% effort.
Don't expect good behaviour if you haven't explained what good behaviour is.
6. Toddlers are people too!
These golden rules apply to coaches who work with all ages of children. Three and four year olds will understand your objectives, what they must and must not do and can they can choose which games they want to play. You just need to keep your questions short and use very simple language.
Good coaches don't need formal qualifications but they do need to be skilled communicators.
Think about how you speak to your players. Do you use their names? Are you friendly? Are you clear?
Do you listen to them and let them speak to you whenever they want to? Do they know what you expect of them and what they can expect from you?
If you want your coaching sessions to run smoothly, be productive and fun for everyone concerned (including you!) you have to plan and learn how to communicate.
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