Youth soccer coaches teach players many things. They teach them how to play the game. They improve their skills. They turn them into conditioned athletes. But sometimes the most important lesson gets lost. Sometimes youth soccer coaches take the fun out of the game. Coaches should teach players to enjoy the game first.
Build a Love for the Game
The first thing youth soccer coaches should do is create a love affair between young players and the game of soccer. Players who enjoy the game will live and breathe soccer. They will play soccer on their own and thirst for more. Taking the fun away will turn them off to soccer. Then they will never realize their potential.
Focus on the Journey
The poet Don Williams Jr. said that lessons come from the journey not the destination. This is so true for youth soccer. If your only goal as coach is to attain college scholarships, you are setting your players up for failure. Only two percent of high school athletes attain full or partial scholarships. Chances are that none of your players will get one. So there has to be something more. This is why it is your responsibility as coach to make this journey a fun and enjoyable one. Otherwise your players will look back at their soccer experiences with regret.
Soccer and Life Lessons
The Positive Coaching Alliance believes that youth soccer coaches have two primary directives. The first is to teach players how to win. The second is to teach life lessons. Creating an enjoyable experience is a big life lesson. A happy player gains confidence, learns teamwork, feels a sense of accomplishment and more. There are so many positive outcomes when players enjoy the game. Coaches should facilitate this by keeping the game enjoyable.
When your players grow up and look back at their soccer experiences, how do you want to be remembered? Do you want to be seen as the coach who made soccer miserable for them or do you want to be the one who inspired them to love and continue soccer? Coaches affect the lives of young players. What do you want your legacy to be?
Making soccer enjoyable is a youth soccer coach's first priority. This should be your indicator for success. If you are not sure if you are meeting this goal, just count the smiles the next time your players are playing soccer.
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