On February 7, 2005, April Heinrichs was nice enough to give SoccerHelp an interview.
No one can match April Heinrichs' experience and success as a soccer player and coach. She was Soccer America's "Player of the Decade" for the 1980's, a 3 time All American at the University of North Carolina where she scored 87 goals in 90 games and Coach Anson Dorrance said she was one of the best he has ever seen at 1 v 1 attacking, in 1998 she was the first female player voted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, Captain of the World Cup Championship team in 1991, Head Coach of the U.S. U-16 Girl's National Team, Head Coach at the University of Virginia, and at the time of our interview she coached the U.S. Women's National Team. In brief, she was one of the best women's players to ever play and is now one of the best coaches. We think she's a fantastic coach and motivator, and she's very nice and full of energy. Her 3-DVD set "Training Girls and Women To Win" are the best comprehensive soccer coaching DVD's we've ever seen, and we've watched over 200 soccer videos.
"What should coaches of players age 13 and younger emphasize in practice?"
Here are the major points Coach Heinrichs recommends (We agree 100% with all of her recommendations):
- Create passion and love for soccer.
- Plan practices in advance and keep the practice and all activities "short and crisp" (not long and dull).
- The practice length should be about the same length as the real games or matches (e.g., about 1 hour if games last 1 hour). This way the players will look forward to the next practice.
- Keep practices fun and interesting by maximizing activity and minimizing lines.
- Have a ball for every player and try to involve as many players as possible in practice activities so as many players as possible are active.
- Plan the amount of time you will spend on an activity and stick to it, don't let it linger. End practices on time. Wear a watch and use it.
- Spend 80% or more of the practice time on activities with a ball that have a "high ball ratio", such as dribbling, passing and shooting drills or games, and small-sided attacking and defending (such as 1v1, 2v1 or 1v2) where 25% to 100% of the players have a ball, and less than 20% on things that don't involve a ball or activities that have a "low ball ratio" (such as scrimmages that involve a lot of players and one ball).
- Build competition into the practice. It's more fun and better prepares players for real soccer matches.