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So You Call Yourself a Youth Soccer Coach: I Don’t Believe You

By Thomas Karapatsos

When coaching young players the problem most new coach’s face is finding the best way to organize training sessions. How to incorporate and organize conditioning and the technical aspects of the game. Sound familiar?

Coaching youth soccer has a fine line which over the years has slowly faded and nearly disappeared. Does anyone know what this line is?

The line if drawn on the field would separate the coaching aspect of training and the other side would represent the education of the player. If you only take one lesson from this post it’s this, Coaching plans specifically designed for young players should not only focus on coaching the player, but also educating the person as well. Notice how I didn’t say player on the second part? Think about it.

Next time you take your kids to training ask yourself these questions:

• Is the coach developing my child?
• Is the coach educating my child?
• Is the coach passionate about soccer and the development of my child?
• Are the training sessions stimulating and fun?

For starters save your money and keep your hard earned cash in your back pocket. Believe it or not, money in your back pocket will be of greater benefit to your kids. While you save your wasted money start looking for a coach that has the above traits. Don’t get me wrong, it might take a while but in the long run you will thank me.

Time and time again its proven that the educational aspect of soccer is neglected. How many youngsters get thrown into the big leagues and are potential superstars only to fall victim to certain vices and addictions. How many players get charged for assault and battery because they cannot withstand the pressures of the spotlight? Remember this, for a young player to finally become an elite full time professional, he must first develop and grow as an individual. He must grow as a human being with integrity, honesty, pride and all the other great words you can find in the dictionary.

Most parents will take this for granted and you might be one of them. Your kid’s development is in your hands and in reference to soccer in the hands of the coach. Next time you’re watching your kids run around, make sure the coach is suitable and try to evaluate if the coach in fact has this fine line that I speak about. Chances are he doesn’t.

I have preached this from day 1 and will continue to emphasize it. Just because someone has been given the title “soccer coach” doesn’t necessarily mean he is one. The main motivation that generally encourages someone to coach youth soccer is the desire to stay within the game. Many former players make this choice without even thinking about what the job itself actually entails. Most youth coaches also see it as a stepping stone to coach senior soccer and rely heavily on results while simultaneously neglecting the development and the educating aspect of the child.

So what makes a good youth coach? Whether his good or great, we are going to refer to him as competent. The main objective of a competent youth coach should be to help his players grow and develop. No ifs, no buts that is the main focus. The coach must also teach his players to live soccer as a positive experience and teach them how to love the game, not to hate it. They should also be motivated and ecstatic when he finds his players improving and can openly express their feelings through the game.

For all dead beat and want to be coaches out there remember this, “It’s not important whether the young player has great potential and the skills of a champion, what is important is that he eventually reaches his own potential. If you deny your players this then you should be shot, simple as that.”

Next time you hand your kid/s over to the coach ask yourself this, What are his real motivations for coaching youth soccer? Could it be money? Is he using your child as a stepping stone? Young children tend to develop a strong bond and a strong spirit of emulation towards their coach. For Heaven’s sake, make sure he is the right man for the job.

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