How your players think

As any soccer coach will tell you, understanding the game of soccer is a piece of cake compared to understanding the children who play it!

But if you want to keep your children interested at practice sessions, help them to learn and keep misbehaviour to a minimum you must at least try to understand what’s going on inside their heads.

My observations lead me to believe that the main reason why children fail to learn or misbehave at soccer practice sessions (or quit soccer altogether) is that they are being coached by someone who:

a) Doesn’t understand why children want to participate in soccer or

b) Expects her children to do things they are simply not capable of doing.

Failure to take these psychological factors into account when designing practices doesn’t just result in disinterested, ‘difficult’ children. The coach will feel frustration (and could even feel angry) when their children insist on messing about when they have spent ages designing what they thought was a perfect practice session!

This often leads into a vicious circle of children trying to do things they just can’t do, the coach getting frustrated and criticising the children for not ‘concentrating’, children trying even harder to do things they can’t do, the coach getting even more frustrated, etc., etc.

This sequence usually ends with the children switching off and amusing themselves by throwing mud, kicking each other or chatting amongst themselves.

Has this ever happened to you? It has certainly happened to me a few times!

But it SHOULDN’T happen to you and it won’t – if you plan your coaching sessions with an understanding of why kids play soccer and what they can and can’t do at various ages.