We’ll keep adding to this list, but here are some keys to coaching youth soccer.
1) Don’t let players stand around in lines waiting to take part in a drill. Keep lines short and the drill moving quickly. Split the players up into groups so they get more touches or have two small sided games going rather than one big game.
2) Do everything with the soccer ball, if you’re jogging around the field to warm up before practice, include the soccer ball.
3) Let players try playing different positions, forwards play some defense and defenders play some offense. Helps players learn to play in other parts of the pitch and adapt.
4) Challenge your players to improve their game, if a player juggled the ball 20 times last week, get them to try to juggle 50 times in two weeks. Keep them striving to improve every practice.
5) Make practices just as intense as games. This means drills should be done at a fast pace as if they’re under pressure.
6) While winning is not the most important thing in youth soccer, winning does matter and every player wants to win; strive to get your players to play their best, and then that will get results for your team.
7) If a player makes a mistake, get them to move past it and on to the next play; get them to try to hustle back and win the ball and not worry about the mistake. Instead, they should get right back into the game and try to make something happen.
8) Get your players to play fast in their heads and not so much with their bodies; let the ball do the work by playing two and three touch soccer. Too many times you see young players darting around the field playing wild soccer. Get them to slow down a bit and let the ball do the work.
9) Get your players to take shots when they’re open. Nobody scores goals unless they shoot. Have them think about hitting the target and making the keeper make a save. There’s no need to try to kill the ball. Try to teach them to place the ball into the net with both feet.
10) Stress the fundamentals of the game, dribbling, passing, crossing, juggling, shooting and then let players work on moves and tricks. Once a player can dribble with both feet and at speed, then they can start the Cristiano Ronaldo step over moves.
11) Keep the practices and games fun. Know when you need to be serious and know when to let your players have some fun. Before practice it’s ok to laugh and joke around, but when you get into doing drills and working on skills then the players should be focused on learning those techniques.
12) Skills that all players should master: shielding and a good first touch. If you watch a professional soccer game you’ll see players are confident enough on the ball to hold it even while under pressure. Teach your players that it is ok to shield and hold on to the ball at certain times.