2006-02-15

Soccer coach fundamentals

I played town league soccer as a kid and a handful of pickup games as a young adult. As an older adult, I have helped coach my son's teams, both officially and unofficially, since day one. Last year, I finally took a coaching training course, and I think I have the beginnings of a philosophy on coaching youth soccer. Soccer is about scoring goals. To score goals, you have to take shots on net. To take shots, you have to maintain possession of the ball. These two points are the essence of a good soccer team: maintaining possession, and taking shots on goal.

Taking shots on goal is truly fundamental, but I break down maintaining possession into subskills. To obtain possession, you steal the ball from your opponents. To maintain possession, you pass the ball to your teammates, dribble past your opponents, or use your body to shield the ball and prevent an opponent from stealing it. These four skills are the basis of maintaining possession.

During our training sessions, we play small-sided soccer-like games that teach and reinforce these fundamentals. Many of the games are listed in the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Statewide Curriculum U6-U12. The games are fun and teach the skills without the kids' realizing it.

The boys' success last season shows that this philosophy works. They were competitive in every match except one (which took place during a freak October blizzard), and practice attendance was high, even on cold rainy nights. The boys were excited about soccer, and I was glad to be a part of it.

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