Ask any youth soccer coach, and they will tell you that the hardest thing when it comes to coaching is creating the right environment for their players. The environment should foster the player’s interest in the sport, keep it challenging, all while preventing burnout and reducing the dropout rate. What we want is to see active players in the practice sessions. There are too many distractions for young people, and there are a lot of activities that compete for their time. Here are some tips on helping players learn the game:
The first tip is to reduce the focus on drills. The players need to learn to think during the game and apply those drills in real life situations. The only way to do this is to put them in situations where they need to think about the outcome and to help understand how to arrive at the right decision. Show them that at this level, mistakes are good and the only way to learn.
Another approach is to allow the player to determine what they need to learn. At a certain age, they will tell you where they are weaker, and often will gravitate toward practicing a skill they feel is lacking. Take the time to notice what players do during breaks, before the session, etc. If someone feels they are weak in a particular skill, you will see them trying to practice. You can then help them with that weakness.