- Minimize the lines, maximize the ball touches – players should rarely be standing around. Set up more than one station of the same drill, go to both goals to shoot or have a passing sequence lead up to a shot so more players are involved, one ball per player and keep them moving during skills session.
- Players will respond to your energy level and enthusiasm, both physical and verbal…you should be almost as tired as the kids by the end of practice!
- Try to make one to one contact/connection with every player throughout the course of each practice and game. Make direct technique corrections with a player that is struggling to execute a skill, acknowledge great effort to the player who sprinted back on defense, high fives as they are getting subbed off.
- Incorporate some analogous visuals as you talk about technique. Ankles should be locked when doing an inside of the foot pass – what would happen if a hockey stick had a blade on a hinge?
- Come up with some fun/silly catch phrases that are easy for the kids to latch onto and for you to pull out during games and practices. “Say no to the toe!” to remind them which part of the foot they should be using to shoot or pass. “Zak, Rutabaga!” when Zak is looking up at the sky instead of focusing on something soccer related.
- Stop a skills session or a drill in the middle when you catch a player doing something really well and have them do a demonstration for the whole team. Let them take a bow at the end and encourage a round of applause from teammates.
Jemma Merrick is a life-long soccer fan, long-time soccer player and coach, and current soccer mom. After high school, Jemma played both Division I and Division III collegiate soccer, at the University of Virginia and Macalester College, respectively.