Why It's Important to Keep Score at Soccer Practice
Keeping Score helps make Practice "Game-Realistic"
and lets the Soccer Coach monitor progress
How to get your players to listen to you
How to Coach soccer by giving "tips" to your players
A soccer practice approach that will cause your players
to want to improve and will train them to play fast

  1. Keeping score creates pressure for players to do an activity faster and better, so players learn how to perform an activity under pressure and at "Game-Speed", which is "Game-Realistic". Drills that don't involve keeping score are NOT Game-Realistic because there isn't pressure, they aren't at Game-Speed, and players aren't trying their hardest. Drills that don't involve pressure and that allow players to practice at less than their fastest speed are actually counterproductive, because they are training players to play slower than Game-Speed and without pressure. In most cases, which player will perform better in a real soccer match � the player who has trained without pressure and at a speed that is less that "Game-Speed", or the player who has trained under pressure and at "Game-Speed"? The answer is obvious. If your players practice at top speed, they are learning to "play fast" � if they practice slow, they are learning to play slow. Drills that don't involve competition and pressure aren't preparing your players for competition and pressure.
  2. Keeping score is a sort of diagnostic test that can show the coach where attention is needed. So, keeping score is critical for both the coach and for the players.

A good way to coach soccer skills (teach soccer skills) is by giving "tips". A good way to give tips is by noticing what caused a player to have a low score. Another good way to give tips is by pointing out why the player with the highest score had the highest score. For example: In the Dribble Across a Square Practice Game, most players get a bad score in the Control Dribbling version of the game because they either don't keep the ball near their feet when in traffic, or because they kick the ball too far in front, lose control and can't make a turn. The players who win the game are those who do those who keep the ball near their feet when in traffic, who look up while dribbling and make their turns.

Here are instructions about how to keep score and how to give tips in the Dribble Across a Square Practice Game:

Each player should keep count of his or her trips across the square. A player gets one point each time he or she turns. Have the first player to reach the target score (e.g., 12 or 10) yell "Done" and raise their hand. As soon as a player yells "Done", blow your whistle and have all the other players stop as soon as they get back to the closest side of the square. Then, ask each player his or her score so you can monitor each player's progress and give tips for improvement. What I would do is start with one player and ask: "John, what was your score?" and then quickly ask each of the others. It is also an opportunity to praise anyone who has improved or to give tips such as "It is very important to keep control of the ball on your turns. If you lose the ball it will cost you several points". This only takes 2 or 3 minutes. The game is self-teaching, but it is helpful for the coach to be encouraging and to point out at the end of each Game how players can improve their performance by giving "tips" on how they can improve their score. A simple way to do this is to point out what the player did who won the Game. For example, in the smaller square, the winner will be the player who keeps the ball near his feet, "Shields" the ball from traffic, and makes the turns without losing the ball -- the winner will keep control of the ball. In the larger square, the winner must still keep control of the ball, BUT the winner will also look for Open Space and kick the ball into it so he can Speed Dribble, and he will still make the turns, so he can't kick it too hard. This is very much like a real game, where if you don't keep control you will lose the ball. This approach works because the players want to improve their score and if they use your "tips" they will see immediate results and get higher scores.

Here are instructions about how to keep score and how to give tips in the Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race Practice Game:

How to Get Your Players to Listen to You (How to Give Coaching Tips During This Game):

This is easier than you think: Let's say you're playing "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race". Play it once and ask "Who wants to win this game?" Tell them you will give them a tip that will help them win. Here's an example of a tip: Tell them that the player ho starts with the ball can kick the ball in front and run to it as a way to go faster. Tell them they will just have to be sure to not kick it too hard. (Demonstrate or have a player demonstrate). Another tip: Pass the ball as soon as you can after you have rounded the cone. Another tip: The Receiver must stay on his toes and watch for whether the pass is going to his left or right and start to immediately move that way � the Receiver's most important job is to STOP the pass, because if one pass gets by him his team will lose the game (this will start to teach Receiver's that they can't just stand still and wait for the ball to come to their feet � the Receiver MUST stop the pass, just as they must in a real game). Another tip: The Receiver can start moving toward the ball as soon as it is passed (that's the rule in this game and probably would also be how you want the receiver to play in a real game), but the Receiver can't just rush at the ball... it's not that simple... he must be sure the ball is coming at him, because if it's a bad pass he may have to move sideways to stop it. Another tip: The Receiver can block the ball in front of him and run to it as a way to speed up (again, this is good training for a real game). Another one: The pass MUST be accurate... one bad pass can lose the game... the pass needs to not be too hard, but it can't be too easy either... they will learn the proper "weight" by playing this game. These are some of the things this game teaches, and your players will learn by playing the game. If you use this approach, it changes your role from a nagging coach to a guy who is giving his players tips so the can improve. The reason it works is that when they are playing our games they will see IMMEDIATE results... so they are getting immediate positive feedback and seeing that your "tips" really work. They 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.

David at SoccerHelp