How to Teach Soccer Players to be More Aggressive
The Amazing April Heinrichs "Combat" Game
Importance of Aggressive Soccer Receiving
Teach Soccer Coaching Rule No. 3 to improve confidence
Motivating Your Soccer Players and Team

See photos of our 29 kinds of iron on Motivational Soccer Patches

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"Before we started practice, I went and got 5 Bravery patches out of my soccer bag, held them up in the air and told my team, if I see brave play, I was going to pass them out to that player. And boy did this change some behavior. The coolest thing was, I gave out three patches for bravery and when I did, I stopped practice right when it happened and had the kid come up to me and I explained what she did and why she was receiving the patch. One girl held onto her patch the rest of practice in her hand, she didn't want to let it go. But back to the coolest thing about it, the three patches I gave out were to three of my most timid players (significant breakthrough)." Coach Aaron (Note from David: You can use a C patch for Courage or a Red soccer ball patch for bravery. If you have a boys team, the boys like to call those "Blood Patches" - my teams called them that because they got one if they fell down and got a scrape but bounced back up.)

"The coaches who win are the ones who can motivate their players." Vince Lombardi

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(Below is a letter from an undefeated U10 Coach and my reply)

Hi SoccerHelp,

I coach a U10 girls team. We are pretty good when we play. I mean we swept our league play, and out of town games. The problem is when we go to tournaments we do not play our best. Some would say the other teams are making us play bad but that is not the truth. Trust me. How can I motivate and make the girls understand that they are good and can win!! We keep losing to teams that we are better than. Our girls are not motivated. Help!!!!

U10 Coach

My Reply --

Hi U10 Coach,

Thanks for being a Member and for writing.

I have 4 suggestions:

  1. Usually, the teams in tournaments are aggressive. If your girl's skills and speed are equal, then the difference is bravery, and that's what you need to work on. It will help if you can make your players "braver" ("brave" is a better word than "tough" or "aggressive" - heroes are brave and some moms don't like their kids being taught to be "tough" or "aggressive"). There are several Premium Games that will help:

    1. Play the "Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball Game" as a warm-up to start every practice until they are good at it. This is quick and easy and will teach your players how not to get pushed off the ball.

    2. Play the Premium "Win the Ball or Be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending Game". It will help your players a lot. You will need 1 cone per player plus 2 extra.

    3. The Amazing April Heinrichs. Try April Henirichs "Combat" game. It is shown on her fantastic 3-DVD set.-- click Training Girls and Women To Win 3-DVD Set to read a detailed minute-by-minute review. April was one of the best players ever to play and is one of the best coaches ever. 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 Head Coach of the U.S. Women's National Team. You can read my interview of April at Click here to read April Henrich's tips for youth coaches. "I bought the April Heinrichs Training Girls and Women to Win DVD set this year. This set is probably the best I have seen. It is right up there with the Coach Doug DVD. Those two are absolutely terrific resources." --Chuck, IN

  2. Make a BIG DEAL out of Bravery and winning the ball. Every kid can't be a great athlete, but all can be brave. Buy some of our patches (choose a couple such as the Lightning Bolt and the "D for Defense") and ONLY give those patches for bravery and tough play. If you aren't scoring enough goals, you might also want to choose one to give players for Scoring a Goal AND for DOING THE THINGS THAT WILL LEAD To GOALS, such as being in position for rebounds, and for assists. Give these patches at a special ceremony after each practice AND after each game in front of ALL players and parents. When a player does something brave during a game or practice, make a point of getting their attention ASAP and giving the praise (a thumbs up or something they know means they did good and you're proud of them). If the players can iron the patches on their jersey, Great! But if not, put them on their bag, on a practice shirt, on a banner or even on a chain so they can attach them to their bag. The point is to give them a cool, special reward and public recognition for being brave. That will let everyone know that bravery is important and will be recognized and rewarded. Use the word "Brave" instead of "tough" or "aggressive" -- it sounds better to kids and to their parents -- some parents might not like you trying to make their kid "tough" or "aggressive", but everyone like bravery, heroes are brave. Also, check out the "V for Victory" patch - maybe that would help too. The patches really work - there are over 300 Testimonials, many from travel team coaches, and they work up to age 16. The parents should be willing to pay for these, or collect donations. Remember: "The coaches who win are the ones who can motivate their players." Vince Lombardi

  3. By the way, whenever your team scores a goal, make sure they do 2 things:

    1. Be sure the scorer doesn't grandstand and claim all the glory - make the scorer "high 5" anyone who made an assist as the first thing. The High 5 is a public recognition that everyone can see, including teammates and parents.
    2. Do as the Brazilian National Team does and have the team go to the Center Circle, touch hands and do a team cheer. This involves everyone in the goal celebration and makes the point that goals are a team effort, and that ALL positions are important.
  4. 1 and 2 above are the most important, but obviously, the better your player's skills, the more confident they will be. If you don't already do so:

    1. Play "Dribble Across a Square" as a warm-up to start every practice. Play it twice with the square 10 steps wide (10 of your players steps, in your case about 8 adult steps) to teach control dribbling and then make the square 14 steps wide - the larger square will teach acceleration into open space and how to recognize "open space". After each game ask each player her score. You will see improvement within 2 practices. You must have a ball for every player to play this. It's quick to set up.
    2. Play "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" at every practice and use it to teach "Aggressive Receiving". This game teaches many important things such as passing the ball while running, speed dribbling, turning and Aggressive Receiving. This will help your scoring and ball movement. How to teach Aggressive Receiving is explained at the game instructions. Aggressive Receiving can make a BIG difference in play and in attitude and confidence.
  5. Have you taught Coaching Rule No. 3? It's easy to teach and will give your team confidence, because they will be able to steal the ball and won't give up any goals on fastbreaks. It's worth one or 2 goals per game. It's at

I hope this helps -- please let me know what helps you and how you do.

David at SoccerHelp

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