Coaching Young Soccer Players the Right Way…

Posted on Sep 4, 2011 in Coaching Youth Soccer

Coaching Young Soccer Players…

“What is so brilliant about teaching age-appropriate soccer to young boys and girls is that when it is done right it accomplishes the three most important goals in coaching/teaching children at any age:

  1. It develops the child’s self-esteem.
  2. It develops the best soccer players.
  3. It creates a fun learning environment, therefore perpetuating the desire to play soccer.

Soccer is one of the few sports that is a natural fit for accomplishing all of these goals at any age, thereby creating not only successful soccer player/athletes, but successful people who enjoy being active, being challenged and enjoy learning. When you turn the focus towards winning a soccer game, especially at the younger ages, you are creating an environment that is destructive for the child’s development. Of course a strong desire to win is injected into every stage of development, but it’s more about being a winner than winning a game. After all, you can win a game and still be a loser, and you can lose a game while being a winner.

A determined coach may be able to teach a group of 6 or 7 year olds through hours of training, focus and motivation to spread out and pass the ball for the upcoming 3 v 3 or 4 v 4 game. As a result they may win a few games playing that way, but the players will have lost more than they will have gained. They will have lost the opportunity to develop the individual skills, self-esteem and mental toughness they will need later to be successful. It will have taken longer for them to learn less, and they will miss out on the opportunity to learn what they can get really good at while they are younger: creativity, dribbling, aggressiveness and shooting/instep driving the ball.

At the ages of 4-10 I would much rather see players going to get the ball, fighting for the ball, winning the ball, dribbling and trying score than spreading out and passing. They may win fewer games, but they will be better prepared to enter into competitive soccer at 11 and older. Surely the child will gradually begin to spread out and incorporate teamwork from the ages of 7-14 if they are in the right environment, but to force them into this style of play in an attempt to win a soccer game is detrimental to their development.”
-Coach Dan Stratford

More on coaching young players in the next post.

Coach Dan Stratford is one of the owners and coaches for Denver Soccer Fit. For more information on Dan visit our Soccer Fit Coaching Staff Page