August 20, 2015
11 Tips for Coaching the Little Ones

By Mike Woitalla

“I got recruited to coach my kid’s soccer team. Any
advice?” The most recent time I heard this question, it came
from a parent of a 6-year-old. It prompted me to put an answer in
writing, based on some of the best insight I’ve gotten from
coaches and players I’ve interviewed and observed over the

11 Tips for Coaching
the Little Ones

1. If all you do is set
up goals and have them play as much soccer as possible during that
hour of practice -- you’re doing a good job.

2. Familiarize yourself with the various
age-appropriate games/exercises to facilitate individual skills -- but
don’t use ones that bore the kids. And if it takes more than a
minute for 6-year-olds to comprehend the activity -- it’s the
wrong one. (In other words, plan your practice but be ready to

3. No lines, no laps, no lectures.

4. Enjoy yourself! If for some reason you’re
grumpy, act like you’re enjoying yourself. Kids pick up
on body language and you’ll get the best out of them if they
sense you like being their coach.

5. Greet each player when they arrive in a way
that lets them know you’re happy to see them.

6. Always end practice on an upbeat, happy note.
(Even if they drove you absolutely crazy).

7. See the game through the children's eyes. This
will remind you that your main objective is helping them discover the
joys of soccer. And not to expect a 6-year-old to play like a

8. Do not yell instructions at them! Do not coach
from the sidelines during games! This interferes severely in their
learning process. It also makes you look rather silly -- an adult
screaming at 6-year-olds while they’re playing.

9. Sit down during games, instead of prowling the
sidelines, which only creates tension that unnerves your players.

10. Always have a first-aid kit (including
ice-packs) with you.

11. Keep plastic bags in your coaching bag in case
you need to pick up dog poo.


Soccer National F License

This well-produced online
(iPad-friendly) course, for coaches and parents of players ages 5 to
8, costs $25. It takes about 2 hours, but you don't have to do it in
one sitting, as one can stop, rewind, and restart the webinars. The
information is concisely conveyed by 11 instructors -- Dave
Chesler, Lewis Atkinson, John Cone, Heather Dyche, Dan Freigang, Vince
Ganzberg, Carlos Juarez, Shannon MacMillan, Rene Miramontes, Deb
Ognar, Christopher Winter
-- and complemented by video clips
of practices sessions. href="https://dcc.ussoccer.com/courses/home/">U.S. Soccer Digital
Coaching Center

Soccer's "Best Practices for Coaching Soccer in the United

Youth Soccer Player Development Model

href="http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/coaches/Education/">U.S. Youth
Soccer Coaching Education

Lesson Plans

href="http://www.nscaa.com/elearning">NSCAA eLearning Center