Monday, October 11, 2010

Coaching U6 Soccer

Three days a week you can find us on the soccer fields. We are usually the first to show up and among the last to leave.

I grew up loving soccer. I played from the time I was 4 until I graduated high school, going from a rec team to a traveling team to the varsity squad. Playing soccer is the one (and maybe only) thing I miss from high school.

Last year, when Little Man expressed interest in playing, we signed him right up. Somehow, I got talked into coaching the team. Now I'm on my second season coaching. (Even though I said I wouldn't be this year, I didn't really get a chance to say no.)

Coaching little kids' soccer is different than anything else I've ever done. I once heard someone say, "you don't need to be a soccer player to coach this level, you need to be a daycare director." I can see some truth in that, but I also believe you need to know the sport more with this age group than with the older ones. You have to be the one to teach how to play correctly. I strongly believe that good habits start early, but bad ones can start even earlier.
My tips for coaching a group of 5 and 6 year olds?

1. Have patience. You will need to tie shoes, allow more water breaks than you can imagine, listen to stories about so and so's sister, hold hands, and direct them towards the bathroom at least once a practice. You will also need to remind them which goal is theirs and learn to smile when they kick it in the other one anyways.

2. Have fun. At this age, kids don't come to win. They really don't even come to practice soccer. They come to have fun. I judge the success of my practices by how many kids are smiling and laughing at the end and how many can't wait until the next practice.

3. Offer lots of praise! Kids will respond to positive reinforcement. They need to hear that they are doing well, that you know they're trying their best. And the next practice, they will come back and try even harder. All I can ever ask for is that they do their best.

Do you coach your kid's sports team? Any tips to add?

1 comment:

Rob said...

Melinda and I coached Sabreena and her soccer team when she was 8-9. It was a HUGE challenge for 2 reasons. One is the team was all girls which meant you needed to be extremely careful so you didn't upset them and the second was trying to keep 10 or so 8-9 yr old girls from socializing the whole time. It was fun but a challenge.