I only started coaching about 2 years ago. I started coaching a sport I never played. I knew going into the only way we could successfully help these kids was preparation. I spent countless hours reading books, pouring over the internet and watching soccer. Local college games and pro games. I also talked to every coach I came in contact with.
The team I took over had absolutely no clue how to be successful. There were no practice plans, no working on the formation, no skill building drills or even teaching the kids each positions responsibilities. They did not work on cardio, for the better part of 6 years they stood and kicked at a goal. Trying to build up their leg strength and then at the end they would scrimmage, but wouldn’t work on any skills during the scrimmage. They were hard to watch and in a 2 year period won only 3 games.
So I decided to take over. Another parent who never played assisted me, still work together. Every practice would start off with stretches, jumping jacks, squats and mountain climbers, to build leg stregth and get the heart pumping. They would then run a lap around the field. We would then go to a drill that puts the cones about 10 yards apart. We set up 4, they have to sprint to the first, touch it, run back to the start and do this for all 4. Then we would have them sprint half the field, jog half, working all around the field. Usually doing it twice. Then 30 seconds of high knee running in place. Break for a drink. We would alternate speed drills and cardio drills from practice to practice.
First game we saw the benefits. Then we would go to a dribble drill, through the cones, pass about 15 yards, immediately run after the pass to the end of the next line. Trying to get the pass where the kids were going, not where they were at. This was an every practice thing. We wanted them to anticipate where their teamate will be, as well as always keep moving to create better passing lanes. It took about 2 games but we saw the difference quickly. The hardest part for us was the kids thought they were being punished. We had to take the time to convince them otherwise. This is an important factor, have a meeting and talk to them. It gives helps them take ownership of their team. We have done it seversl times, sometimes just players only and have only had good results.
In between we have done dozens of skills drills. Always trying to keep it fresh, even if we are working on the same thing, new stuff keeps them interested. We always explain why we are doing the drill and what is expected. This way they know what we are looking for. One mistake we made was seperating the offense and defense. At the time it worked because of all the bad habits we had to correct. But defensive players need good passing and at least passable dribbling skills to start the buildup. They did the dribbling but we seperated after that to focus on specific skills. The end we would do a scrimmage, but they had to use the whatever was taught that day.
Be sure to work on your formation with your kids. Teach them what is needed from each position. What exactly you expect, must be very clear. Your formation is of course going to be tailored to your teams skills and athleticism. We have run a 4-4-2 diamond, with our best ball handler at center offensive mid. It made us strong in the middle. We used that for 2 years. When we played 8 v 8, we originally went with a 2-3-2. This year we lost our best ball handler so we switched to a 3-2-2. We are also slow defensively, so we play positional defense and try for toe pokes close to the sideline. But again your formation will be tailored to your team.
What was most important for me, don’t yell at kids. They shut you out. When something needs done sit them down. You need to establish control in the beginning so this will work. If you work with your kids; coaching is very fulfilling. Also keep stats, pass accuracy, shots on goal ect… It makes it much easier to prove your point. Next year I hope to be trying this would like to be trying this with high school kids. Hopefully my ideas work as well there. Also if you see a coach using something you like; use it, he probably got it from someone else as well.