|A lot of youth soccer coaches complain that their young players start slowly in matches and take at least five or ten minutes before they start to play, so these soccer coaching tips are designed to help combat this problem.
To deal with this, I suggest changing the pre-match
routine and using a simple
tactic that will supercharge the way your players start their game.
Having used these soccer coaching tactics with my team, I know they work. The girls don't always finish up winning the match but at least I
can relax a bit more when the whistle blows to start the game!
The pre-match warm-up is key. Your team is not
going to be in the right frame of mind when the match starts if you
allow your players to turn up five minutes before kick off and your
warm-up consists of a few lazy kicks into the goal.
Make it clear to your parents that you need their
sons or daughters at the pitch no later than 30 minutes before kick
When your players arrive, keep the balls in the
bag. If you allow them to kick a ball about before you've had a chance
to warm them up, don't be surprised if they come back to you complaining
of aches and pulled muscles.
Set up two parallel lines of 10 cones about five
yards apart. Line your players up in pairs in between the lines of
All these exercises are done in pairs.
- Slow jog to end cones and return (a bit quicker)
down the outside. Three repetitions.
- Jog with knees up high and return. Two repetitions.
- Jog with heels up and return. Two repetitions.
- Jog forwards to third cone, jog backwards to second
cone then forwards to the end cone and return. Two repetitions.
- Jog to first cone. Jump shoulder to shoulder with
your partner. Repeat at second cone and continue to the end of the
You can add a number of other
exercises and stretches (such as hip rotations) to these but
as useful as this sort of warm-up is, don't spend too long on it. Your
players need to get some touches on the ball as soon as
But I always play keepaway for at least 10
minutes. Play 4v1, 6v2 or 7v3, depending on how many players you have.
Put the defenders in bibs and challenge the rest of the players to
string at least 10, 15, 20 passes together before they lose
Make sure they pass and move immediately. I
tell my players to move to a new patch of grass each time they pass
Start in a large space (the width of the
pitch) then increase the pressure by moving your players into a smaller
space marked out with cones.
Set up a couple of cone goals and finish the warm-up with a short match between your outfield players. If they are old
enough, limit them to two or three touches and play without anyone in
If you see a good touch or pass during the warm-up,
compliment your players. Always tell them how well they are doing. Have
a quiet word with individuals while they are playing. Listen to them.
Join in the warm-up yourself. Have fun, smile and look confident.
is very important. You should aim to finish the warm-up a
minute or so before your players are due on the pitch. You only need
enough time for them to have a quick drink and listen to your final few
words of encouragement. If you finish too soon, all the energy you've
generated in your players will dissipate and you'll be back to square
One of the reasons youth soccer teams start their
matches slowly is often the pressure players feel from their parents. Parents often don't realise the effect they can have if young players hear them saying such things as "another win today and we'll be
second in the league" or "you're much better than the other team – get
out there and score me five goals!".
Explain to your players' parents that their children
will play better on match days – and have a bigger smile on their
faces – if they just let them play without the "encouragement". When parental comments are confined to
"where shall we go for lunch today?" instead of "you need to get stuck
in more, you're not playing tough enough", you'll see a big difference in your players' approach to the game.
If you want your team to score an early goal you
have to put your opponents under pressure straight from the kick off.
A simple way to do this is for one of your wide
midfielders to run down the line as soon as the whistle blows. The
players taking the kick off should then kick the ball hard in the direction of the
running player and immediately run towards the goal.
If the midfielder manages to control the ball,
great, she is in a good position to cross the ball towards the two
players who are now arriving in the box.
If she fails to control the
ball and it goes out for a throw in, that's a good result too. Your
opponents will have a throw near to their goal line and they may well
find it difficult to get the ball away.
It's a tactic that has worked for me on more than
one occasion. Give it a try!
Plan your pre-match warm-up routine carefully,
explain to your parents how their well-meaning comments can stop their
child from playing to their potential and practise putting the
opposition on the back foot as soon as the ref blows the
supercharged team will soon be racing around the field!