First, it is important to
tailor your practice to your players’ ages.
If the player or players in question are under eight years old, they are
probably just exhibiting personality tendencies common to that age
group: short attention spans, high energy, sociability, an inability to
understand certain detail-oriented explanations, etc. It has been shown
that it is fairly unproductive to attempt to teach players under eight
years old the technicalities of soccer such as corner kicks, goalkeeping
skills, throw-ins, etc. At this level, the kids just want to have fun
and get touches on the ball. This is why
small-sided soccer is so important at this level. Playing with less
players on the field results in more children getting touches on the
ball, and consequently, more learning and more development.
For players eight and up who have been playing soccer for at least
one previous season and who should be accustomed to how a soccer
practice is “run,” discipline problems can be treated as such.
Unfortunately, these discipline problems can run the gamut from not
listening to being disrespectful to other players and coaches. Try not
to be too hard on the player who won’t listen to you—after all, these
kids have been “listening” in some form or other to an adult all day at
school, a place that is filled with lines and lectures, two non-kid
friendly items. At soccer practice, out in the fresh air, the kids may
feel compelled to just run around and burn excess energy, which is OK to
an extent, but can become detrimental when its affecting your ability as
a coach to teach the other players important soccer concepts.
www.soccerhelp.com has some
suggestions for dealing with discipline problems at practice:
Remember that you are the coach, not a
“buddy.” Some people have the ability to pal around and still inspire
unconditional respect from their players. Some do not. If you are in the
latter category, it is important to have respect first. Be nice, always,
and do not lecture, but be firm.
Do not tolerate rude or disrespectful
behaviour. This should result in a “time-out” for the player who is
acting up. Be sure to judge each situation in a new light. Some players
don’t mean to be rude—they just weren’t paying attention at the time.
Only consciously punish consciously rude behaviour. Be aware that
some medical conditions can cause children
to behave in seemingly disruptive ways.
Send a letter home to parents describing
your coaching philosophy—what you expect from your players and what they
should expect from you. Explain that the first “incident” will result in
a physical activity such as “knee-jumps” (he stands still & jumps,
raising his knees to waist height—quick and less disruptive than laps),
second in a time out, third in sitting out practice and a letter home,
fourth in asking parents to attend practice, etc., at your discretion.
Examples of proper soccer practice behaviour:
Everyone must follow all directions given
by the coaches & assistant coaches
Everyone must do their best
When coaches talk players must be still
Everyone to be a good sport whether we
win or lose (this includes parents)
No swearing or name-calling
Disruptive or disrespectful behaviour
will not be tolerated
Keep your hands to yourself
Do not kick your ball in the air unless
coach tells you to do so
The most important thing to remember when dealing with ANY players
under 13 years of age is that they are at practice mainly to have fun and
play the game of soccer—which, finally, is just a game.
Taking the game too seriously, or making practice too much like school,
will result in your players becoming uninterested in the game.
A good idea is to schedule an “energy burn” session into your practice.
Think of how you feel sitting in your office all day long on a beautiful
spring day. These kids feel this sensation 10x more than you do-— humans
are simply not designed to sit inside all day. Your players have their
whole lives to sit at desks and listen to other people. Playing soccer,
going for a run, playing golf or tennis—- these are the ways that we all
use our physical energy that sits dormant for most of the day.
Let your kids “go” for a majority of practice in the form of a
keep-away game or cone drills. Explain the drills briefly, and then let
them run around and play. Players do NOT learn by listening to a coach
lecture. In fact this is the best way to make sure the kids tune out and
do NOT listen. Let them dribble, shoot, pass, and run to their heart’s
content, and they may feel more compelled to pickup the soccer ball on
their own at home and do just that.