Soccer Practice Plans & Tips, Part 1
18 Tips for Soccer Practice
How to Plan a Good Soccer Practice
Get Ready for Soccer Season
Motivational Coaching Quote "Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man. Sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can." Vince Lombardi If you coach young soccer players, your practices should involve 4 things:
9 Tips For Good Soccer Practices:
- Fun. Ask yourself these questions: Do your players play harder if they are having fun? Are they more excited and eager to come to soccer practice if they know it's going to be fun? The answers are obvious. If soccer isn't fun, kids will stop playing.
- A High "Ball-Ratio" and Lots of touches on the soccer ball Two things are key: (1). A ball for every player and (2). Soccer Drills that have a high "ball-ratio". Scrimmaging isn't good because it has a low ball-ratio. Dribble Across a Square and Hit the Coach, for example, have a 100% ball-ratio. Dribble around Cone & Pass Relay Race and Win the 50/50 Ball or Be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending have 50% ball-ratios.
- Keep score as much as possible because keeping score creates competition, pressure and "Game-Speed" - the result is that your soccer practices become "Game-Realistic". Keeping score also allows you to monitor each player's progress.
- Teach your players by giving them "tips" AFTER each Practice Game (before they play the next game) that will help them improve their scores in the next soccer Practice Games. That is a better and more fun way than "hard" coaching. If you use this "soft" coaching approach, it changes your role from a nagging coach to a teacher who is giving his players tips so the can improve. The reason it works is that when they are playing SoccerHelp Soccer Drills they will see IMMEDIATE results... so they are getting immediate positive feedback and seeing that your "tips" really work. Your players will see that the players who follow the coaches' tips win more games than those who don't... those who listen will win, and those who don't listen will lose.
5 Tips for Planning Soccer Practice When planning a soccer practice, start by asking yourself "What do I need to teach at practice?" The answer will depend on the age and skill of your players and what you've learned at that point in the season. Keep in mind the following:
- Kids love playing games & keeping score. In practice, try to use games & not drills.
- Everyone should stay active & participate. Avoid lines.
- Maximize "touches" on the ball. At least 500 touches per practice for each player.
- Teach proper technique and emphasize games that practice technique or simulate play or playing situations.
- Run games by keeping time (e.g., so they last 1, 3, or 5 minutes) or by keeping score (e.g., first to 3, 12, etc.).
- Praise hustle, effort & improvement and give "tips" at the end of the game.
- A good game must be easy & quick to set up and should be simple to explain and manage. If you are spending too much time on set up or instruction, simplify it.
- If it's not fun, it's not a good game.
- Adopt this philosophy: "Keep it simple, keep them active, keep it fun & at least 500 touches per player per practice".
- The most important soccer skill is dribbling. At early ages or for beginners, the most important thing to practice is dribbling. Many SoccerHelp Practice Games teach dribbling, but the best one for U8 and older is Dribble Across a Square which I highly recommend you play at every practice as a warm up for teams U8 & older. The Soccer Help Practice Games are self teaching and players learn by playing the games.
- If your soccer team is U4 or U6, you will greatly benefit from Coach Doug's ideas. You can watch video clips of how Coach Doug coaches and the "Hit the Coach" Practice Game at Coach Doug Video Clips. At U4 and U6, Coach Doug and I recommend you focus on dribbling, defense and movement off the ball but NOT passing. Passing is too confusing for U4 and U6 players and teaching it will hold back their development of other skills such as dribbling and movement off the ball.
- If your soccer team is U8 or older, you will want to teach control dribbling, speed dribbling into open space, how to "chip" the ball, how to make a Throw-in, and passing and receiving. The best way to teach dribbling, passing and receiving is by playing the SoccerHelp Soccer Drills that involve pressure and competition. The reason is because they prepare players to perform those skills in games, at "Game Speed" and while under pressure.
- If you aren't sure what to teach, read Most Important Things to Teach
- Keep in mind that it is NOT better to play different Practice Games at every practice. Play the 2 or 3 Practice Games that are most effective (such as Dribble Across a Square as a warm up to start every practice for teams U8 & older) and use the additional time to play games that teach skills you need to work on (such as "Chipping the Ball" or Throw-Ins) or to teach defense or positions. You should only play about 4 Practice Games at each practice.
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