Coaching During Soccer Games from the Sidelines
Why Rec Soccer Coaches Should Do it
How to Do it So you get the Best Results

NOTE: The best way to teach Coaching Rule #3 is to demonstrate it in socer practice on the soccer field and then split into 2 groups and have one take a Goal Kick while the other defends it. (How to teach it is at ). The same thing with throw-ins. Then during the game, you will need to yell "Mark Up" and call to specific players who aren't marking up. Example: "Mary (get her attention so you are sure she is listening), Mark Up!" It might take 3 or 4 soccer games to see the results, but it's worth it.

It will help you greatly if you coach during your soccer games - by that I mean if you give direction to players who are on the field. You can't afford the luxury of just letting them play - you don't have enough soccer practice time to teach everything at practice, so they must learn during their games. Get a parent to help with substituting and water. It will help greatly if you or your assistant coaches the Defense (FBs and Stoppers) while the other one coaches the MFs and Forwards (it's impossible to watch them all at the same time). Here's a tip: When giving directions, call the player by name and keep it simple and specific. Example: "John, mark up" or "John, move up 5 steps" or "John, shift with the ball" or "John, stop at the Halfway Line". Being able to watch your players will let you see what you need to work on. It will be best if you coach the Defense for a half and then coach the Offense the next half - that way you will see where work is needed. It's very important to agree up front with your assistant about whether your FBs are going to Push Up, and if they are, how far, and what are the "rules" you want to teach your Fullbacks, Stoppers, MFs and Forwards. Discuss how you will handle balls to the corner and where the Stoppers should be on those balls, where the Stoppers should stop when you attack, etc. REMEMBER, that all you can expect is for each player to do his job - you must let them stuck to their job - this is how they learn to be responsible and to trust their teammates. This may at first result in a few bad things happening, but they will improve. If you must choose, it's more important for you to coach the Defense (FBs and Stoppers) than it is for you to coach the Offense (MFs and Forwards). You can give your FBs and Stoppers some specific "rules" but there are only a few for the MFs and Forwards - for example: "shift with the ball", "win the ball", tell your Forwards to stay at the Half line when your goal is under attack (or a long kick from the ball), when on your Defensive Half tell MFs to stay a long pass from the ball and to stay out of your Penalty Box except in an emergency. There are more Positioning Rules on Premium. If you use a 2-2-2-1, it's critical that when your goal is under attack that your MFs stay a long pass away from the ball (about 15 to 20 of their steps - longer than a short pass, but not as far as a long kick) and that they shift from side to side with the soccer ball - that way they are in position to win the balls that your FBs and Stoppers clear by kicking straight ahead. The MFs should never go into the Penalty Box unless it is an emergency. These "rules" will give you good field coverage and your MFs and Forwards will be in position to win cleared balls. Hundreds of coaches have successfully used this approach - it works for Rec soccer teams like yours. Your kids are a little young, so keep in mind that they won't be able to learn this as fast as 12 year olds would.

More about Coaching During Games: Some books will tell you that during games you should let the players play & not give instructions. That may work for older or select soccer teams, but it isn't very practical for youth recreational teams which only practice once a week. Most leagues allow coaching from the sidelines (although sometimes only by one coach who must stay in a designated area). If the objectives are to have fun & to teach the boys and girls how to play, then coaching during the game can help achieve those objectives. There are many things that you can teach in a game that are difficult to teach in soccer practice, especially if you only practice one time a week (a "shifting & sagging" defense is one). I look at games as another teaching opportunity. In fact, if your League will allow it, use 2 coaches during the game, one for offense & one for defense to teach your players how to "shift & sag" & to help them learn positions. This is hugely beneficial because one coach can't watch both ends of the field at the same time. Be sure to not get in the other team's way & remember you have to coach from the side lines, not the "end lines". To be courteous, you might ask the other coach if it is okay with him). Do I yell? Yes, I find it necessary to yell instructions to the players so they can hear me across the field. I don't yell negative or general comments such as: "You guys stink" or "Hustle". I yell specific instructions such as "John, push up", or "Matt, cover the center" or "Don't get thrown over" (or "punted over" or "goal kicked over"), or "Mark up behind a man" (on the other teams throw-ins, goal kicks, & free kicks) or, on the other teams corner kicks, "Mark a man goalside". I try not to show frustration or irritation & try to not single out anyone for criticism unless they aren't hustling & then I will ask "John, are you sick?" If he says "No", I ask "Are you tired?" If he says "No", I say "Then hustle". However, I do make coaching comments to correct errors. For example, if a player's passes are coming off the ground, I will say "Matt, strike the ball higher". Or, if they turn over a throw-in because their foot came off the ground I will say "Patrick, drag your toe".