Soccer Tips

How to Motivate Soccer Players Who Don't Try
How to make soccer players braver and more aggressive
How to Encourage Team Spirit
A Team Goal Celebration Idea that Promotes Teamwork
The Brazilian National Team Goal Celebration
Positive Reinforcement to Encourage Bravery
How to Praise and Encourage Soccer Players to Hustle

Hi SoccerHelp,

Saturday we played a team that beat us 11-0 last year. The other coach has no weak soccer players and three aggressive players. We lost 2- 0 but I can see the improvement from last year by looking at the result then and now. The other team's coach even asked me if I had the same squad as last year and when I said yes, he said, "Wow, you are doing a marvelous job with them". I told him thank you.

A problem I have is that I have two girls who flat out just don't play. The soccer ball comes to there feet and they just stand there. Ball goes to the corner, do they go get it? Nope, just stand there. How can I motivate these 2 girls?

Aaron, Premium Member


Hi Aaron,

Thanks for writing.

As you know, this isn't easy, but it is very important. Below are some ideas for you to try.

  1. Perhaps the players are timid or don't know how to be Brave (the word "Brave" is better than "aggressive" - "brave" is a term that most girls and parents like better than "aggressive" - heroes are brave, but some parents don't want their kids to be "aggressive"). Try the following Premium Soccer Games to teach them to be braver and more aggressive: "Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball", "2 Team Keepaway" (which is a Great workout, by the way - only play it for 2 minutes - it will wear them out), "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" (to teach "Aggressive Receiving") and "Win the 50/50 Ball or Be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking & Defending" (this soccer practice game forces players to learn how to defend 1 vs. 1).

  2. Promote the idea that everyone is part of the Team and that the team can only win if everyone does their job. Start a Team Cheer that everyone does before the game. Let the girls choose it. An example is "Go Team, Go, Go, Go" or "Play Hard, Play Fair, Have Fun". There is more about this at Soccer Team Cheer and Ideas

  3. Brazilian Goal Celebration Idea. When your team scores a goal, have everyone gather in a circle facing each other, put their arms around each other's shoulders, and do your Team Cheer or a Chant. That makes it clear that scoring a goal is a TEAM EFFORT. This Team Goal Celebration will allow EVERY member of the team to celebrate and share in the celebration of a goal being scored - it promotes teamwork and team spirit, and discourages being a ball hog or a grandstander. This will encourage every player to feel that they are an important member of the team. This is what the Brazilian National Team does after scoring a goal. There is more about this idea of "Team Attacking" at .

  4. Positive Reinforcement Ideas. Our motivational patches really work. There are over 350 Testimonials you can read from coaches that you can read at SoccerHelp Testimonials. Choose a patch to give for "Hustle" patch and different patch to give for "Bravery". An example might be a Lightning Bolt for Hustle and a Gold Star for Bravery. Use the patches that you think will best motivate your players. The patches are part of a Positive Reinforcement approach.

  5. How to Give Effective Positive Reinforcement. As part of your Positive Reinforcement, give your players LOTS of encouragement and praise in a VISIBLE way. Give praise for actions you are encouraging at the time they happen. Give your praise in a way where everyone sees it and hears it - let your players know that you are proud of them (that also let's the other players know what they can do to earn praise). When a player does something you want them to do on the field (like Hustle or Bravery), get their attention and yell "Good job Karen" and clap your hands (to indicate "applause") or do something so they can see you are pleased. When they come off the field be sure to mention it so the other players hear your praise or give them a High Five. IMPORTANT: Give the patches out after the game in a ceremony in front of all the players AND parents and be sure to PRAISE the players and tell them why they EARNED the patches. This will make them proud and will let the other players know the type of behavior that will EARN a patch. A positive reinforcement approach gets better results than a negative approach and is a lot more fun for everyone.

Please let me know what you do and how it works. That is how I get feedback to know what works best.

Thanks for writing.

David at SoccerHelp