Coaching youth soccer – What’s the deal?
Coaching youth soccer is an amazing experience. For so many children these memories will be some of their favorites, which is another reason to do the best job that you possibly can.
Soccer is about more than winning. These children will experience the ups and downs of the season, including wins and losses. It is important that any coach does what they can to make sure this is an amazing time for the players.
Part of this is making sure that practice is an enjoyable and teachable time. The best way to achieve this is to have drills that are fun and helpful and ensure that your soccer practice plans are designed well to ensure players get the most out of them.
By mastering these skills on the field, participants will be more able to bring this discipline to every aspect of their lives. Team sports are meant to be fun, but they also have an important social element as well.
The following is a list of youth soccer drills that will bring all of the components of learning, fun, and socializing together:
1. The “clean your room” drill
This drill requires 5 soccer players that will dribble balls in a predetermined spot. In addition to the 5 players dribbling balls, there is one more that will be known as the “room cleaner”. The room cleaner must approach each player and try to kick the ball out of the room (a predetermined invisible or marked square). Once the cleaner is able to clean the ball out from first dribbler, they must then move on to the remaining dribblers. This is a timed exercise with the goal of the dribblers to keep the ball in their “room” for as long as possible. This is a two way skill that works on the conditioning and stealing skills of the cleaner, while enhancing the keep away and dribbling skills of the other 5 players. This game is fun and challenging. It allows children to get in great practice within the rules of a friendly competition, truly an important aspect of proper soccer training.
2. The treasure pirate dribbling game
There are several different variations of the pirate game, including the number of protectors and the number of “pirates”. Generally there are about 4 or 5 pirates with 3 to 5 protectors. The primary idea is that the pirates have to steal the treasure (cones placed on the side of a grid), while the protectors have to defend the treasure. Some of the most coachable aspects of this game include control and keeping your eyes up to see defenders while dribbling. Set out a grid that is approximately 30’ by 30’. On one side of the grid is the pirates, on the other side the protectors with their treasure (cones placed on one side of the grid). The pirates, armed with soccer balls, must steal the treasure by knocking down one of the cones with their ball. Once a cone is knocked down the pirate will then pick the cone up while she or he continues to dribble the ball. If they make it all the way back to their side, then the treasure is now with the pirates. The protectors of course will try to defend their treasure by kicking the ball away from the pirates. If the ball goes outside of the predetermined grid, the pirates must go back to their side and start over. This is generally played for a predetermined time, with the team with the most treasure winning. This is an especially good soccer training exercise because it builds teamwork.
3. Coach says
This is a very simple drill that is great for younger children. The main point of this drill is to get kids to listen to instructions and learn the basics of soccer vocabulary. The game is very similar to “Simon Says” and requires each participant to have a soccer ball. The coach will then call out various soccer instructions by saying “coach says” before they give the action. These actions are mostly simple and are intended to teach basic ball handling. The coach will then throw the children off by giving instructions that should not be followed by not saying “coach says” before them. This is great if you have an active group that needs to work on their listening skills. With the combination of simple information and skills practice, “Coach Says” is great for young soccer players.
4. Jambalaya Blitz
This drill comes from the South and is a great way to get the kids working together for a complete warm-up. It requires 4 players and a goal keeper. The 4 players are formed into a square about 15 feet away (30 feet from the farthest edges of the square) from the goal. The far two edges of the square are close to a large number of soccer balls. The idea is that the player on edge of the square kicks it to the opposite side of the square, who then tries to score a goal.
When functioning properly, there should always be a ball in motion. The balls of the other players will often crisscross and collide en route to the scorer. The goalie is then on his or her toes for the entire blitz, waiting for the next ball to come. This is primarily a passing, scoring, and goalie exercise that will push the kids to their limit. This can be an intensive exercise, so it’s best only kept to a few minutes. It is also important to make sure that the goalie is competent and able to handle an onslaught of balls coming their way.
A properly executed Jambalaya Blitz is one of the most fun things a soccer player can do.
Overall, proper application of these soccer drills will make your team better. More importantly however, they are fun and informative. Coaching youth soccer is a great way to give back to the community and requires plenty of dedication. With the right amount of patience and persistence, you and your team will form memories that last for a lifetime. Give these drills a try and witness the increased teamwork and spirit. These drills are about more than soccer, they are about learning while having fun.