- Winning is secondary to the development of a players psychological and social characteristics as well as physical skills and fitness.
- Teaching sportsmanship, teamwork and competitive team play in a safe and constructive environment is something that should happen during all training sessions and games.
- Games are a great time for players to demonstrate what they have learned. This is the reason they put in all the hard work in training. As a coach/parent, make sure you let the players play. They will need a little instruction from time to time but the beauty of the game of soccer is being able to problem solve as the game plays out. Let players make mistakes, this is how they learn. See if the individual/team can correct it on their own. This is how players develop. They can’t rely on instructions from the sidelines.
- At U13 and below, players should play more than one position. This helps the player understand the overall game more and the responsibilities of all their teammates. Each position offers different and unique challenges. By not having players specialize in one position will allow them to have greater success and development. By specializing in specific position at an early age can limit their options as they get older. Other coaches might see a player in a different position but they might struggle because they never were given the opportunity to play multiple spots. Playing in multiple positions will not just add to overall development of the player but will go a long way in keeping kids excited and motivated to play soccer.
- Communication is key for player development. It is critical for team chemistry and success thus the coach needs to set the example on how to communicate. Each one of your players will understand you differently. Make yourself approachable so anyone that has questions feels comfortable talking to you. Make sure you are as positive as possible. This will create a productive training environment and contagious to players and parents. When you correct player and team mistakes, focus more on how they can remedy the issue with their strengths. Be as constructive as possible. They don’t need to be constantly reminded of what they did wrong, but they should be told when they do it correctly.
Download: US Youth Soccer Player Development Model
Last Updated: August 4th, 2014