Preperation is the key to good coaching. I am not claiming I am an expert, by no means at all. I am just imparting what I have learned in 2 seasons as a Head Coach and 1 as an assistant. Mind you, it is for U12 girls and not professionals. In som err circumstances professionals would be easier to coach.
The first thing I learned was that you need a plan. Without a plan ypu cannot have a succinct practice. You also need a message, you have to sell the kids on your idea, make them buy into it. You need to establish that you are the Coach, they need to listen when you talk. Without these things your practice will be chaos. The kids will argue with you and try to find your boundaries. We have a good relationship with our kids, but if they are talking or screwing around when we are explaining something, they run. It has worked really well for us and the kids have responded positively.
You have to evaluate their skills. I have seen quite a few coaches try to make their kid the star player, even if it didn’t work. You have to look at each kid and realistically evaluate their skills, athletic ability and their upside. Once you have done this, you have to establish a practice plan to address the weaknesses, strengthen the strengths and introduce new skills. While at the same time figuring out how to motivate each kid. The practice plans evolve as the skills improve. Dont forget to work on cardio, this is the hidden skill. You can win a game late just because your kids are in better shape, we have done it several times.
Don’t go in halfway. If you take 20 minutes each night to go on the internet look up drills your kids will appreciate it. If the kids see you are not prepared and are not putting the work in, they won’t either. You will be surprised how quick they improve if they believe in you. Don’t forget to listen to them, when they are thinking of ways to help the team others will as well. A good attitude is contagious.
Formations in many cases gets lumped in with tactics. I personally don’t do that, maybe it is my love of American football, but I believe a formation is very important to any type of success. If you put your kids in a system that doesn’t take advantage of your strengths and hide your weaknesses, you are doing your kids a disservice. This is where your evaluations will help you. You don’t want a weak ball handler at mid. If you don’t have many good ball handlers you are going to play more of a defensive game. We lacked team speed, so we went with a 4-4-2 with emphasis on stopping the breakaway. We went from 2wins 2 ties and 7 losses to 6-2-4. It was essentially the same team, different practice method and formation.
Tactics are a little more difficult. This is more of gaining experience as a coach than anything else. We have a team in our league that hasn’t lost in 6 years. They are really good, a travel team and very gifted athletically, skill wise and tactics. I scoured the internet for a way for a less talented team to beat them. The closest thing to a strategy was going into a defensive shell and counterattacking. Our kids were not ready for a crash course and we lost 5-1. For 46 minutes it was a great game, we had a new girl who we couldn’t get to be aggressive on defense, she gave up 3 goals in 2 minutes. The defense around her helped, she didn’t attack and they dictated to her and scored. Each shot the goalie didn’t have a chance. Our defense got out of position yo cover for her and left them open for 3 give and goes. She has improved dramatically this year.
It is very fulfilling to coach kids. But you will only get what you give. If you take the time, your kids will appreciate you and the improvement will come by leaps and bounds. These kids need this, they will be heading to high school soon and need to be ready. They are almost there.