Soccer Patches that Motivate Players and TeamsNote From David. Motivating players is one of the biggest challenges a youth soccer coach faces. This article discusses the best approach I know of to motivate soccer players. I developed this for my teams and it has been tested and refined over the years by thousands of coaches. Perhaps there are some ideas for you to consider.
How to Use Praise to Motivate Players and as Positive Reinforcement
How to Build Team Spirit
How to Use Patches to Motivate Players
Importance of a Patch Ceremony at the End of the Game Patches can motivate hustle, bravery, listening, effort, attitude, leadership, teamwork, improvement, individual improvements (such as skills), or team achievements, such as a shut-out or scoring a goal
The best way I know to motivate soccer players is by doing the things listed below: A. How to Use Praise to Motivate Players and as Positive Reinforcement: Do 4 things: 1. Praise your players at the time the good thing is done (this means praising them while on the field by getting their attention and giving a Thumbs Up, Clapping and smiling at them or yelling "Way to Go" or something similar). 2. Praise SPECIFIC actions so they know what the praise is for. 3. At half time call all your players together and give each one a word of encouragement. If they have done something good say something specific to encourage that behavior, such as "Kate, you are really hustling". If there is something they need to work on say something encouraging like "Sam, I know you can be a great Goalie". 4. At the end of the game, call them all together around you ("Gather Round") and encourage the parents to watch while you have a Patch Ceremony. (See "C" below for what to do in the Patch Ceremony). B. How to Build Team Spirit: Do 2 things: 1. Select a Team Nickname and a team cheer like "Play Hard and Have Fun" or "1-2-3 Go Team". Have them all get together in a circle on the field just before the game and just before the second half starts. Show them how to get in a circle and put their arms on each other's shoulders to do the cheer OR how to stand in a circle and all touch hands. 2. After every goal, have the entire team, including the Goalie, come together in a circle and do the Team Cheer. (The Brazilian National Team does this). This makes it clear that scoring a goal is a TEAM effort. C. Using the Patches to Motivate Players and as a Visible Reward for Positive Behavior. The advantage of the patches is that they can be seen, touched and held. They are a visible, tangible reward and reminder. Players really like them. If a player earns one, he or she will be proud. If they see another player EARN one, most kids will also want to EARN one. They quickly understand what they need to do to EARN a patch. There are 2 main times to give patches: As a reward for attending practice, for practicing on their own to learn skills and at the end of each soccer game in a Patch Ceremony. At the end of the game, call your players all together around you ("Gather Round") and encourage the parents to watch while you have a Patch Ceremony. If a player has to leave early, you can give that players his or her patches personally, but encourage them to stay for the Ceremony. Tell the parents it is an important part of motivation. In the Patch ceremony, for U4 and U6 players, give everyone at least one patch (like an attendance patch). At U8 and older you can still give an attendance patch if you want, but start to use the patches to motivate the behavior you want by making the players Earn the patches. They could earn them for hustle, bravery, listening to the coach, effort, attitude, leadership, teamwork, improvement (it is important to constantly encourage improvement and to reward improvement), or specific achievements, such as great defense or following a shot to be in position for a rebound (even if they didn't score). If you are having a problem getting players to play a position such as Goalie, select a special Goalie Patch that you ONLY give to players who play Goalie. D. Specific Ideas for How to Use Patches to Motivate the Behavior You Want. There are lots of good ideas at the "Patch Handouts" page at www.soccerhelp.com/Patch_Handout.shtml. There are also many good ideas at the Patch Testimonials where there are over 200 testimonials from coaches who used the patches. Some ways I like to use the patches are for hustle, bravery, listening to the coach, effort, attitude, leadership, teamwork, improvement (it is important to constantly encourage improvement and to reward improvement), or specific individual or team achievements, such as great defense, following a shot to be in position for a rebound (even if they didn't score), or the team not allowing a goal (getting shut-out). Some coaches reward every player on the team when goals are scored to reinforce the idea that goals are a team effort. If you can get your players to hustle, listen to the coach, to be brave and to do their best, then you are motivating them. Keep in mind that it is a PROCESS - it won't happen all at once. I like the idea of encouraging individual improvement, achievement and team spirit. I like the idea of letting every player be a "Captain" at one of the games so you can take a positive approach to Leadership. (More than one player can be a Captain at each game). Or, you could use the "C" patch for Courage. I think bravery, hustle, listening to the coach and doing your best are 4 of the most important things to motivate. If you motivate those 4 things, your players and team can achieve their potential, and you can be proud of them, win or lose. Those are also valuable life lessons that build character. If you are having a problem getting players to play a position such as Goalie, select a special Goalie Patch that you ONLY give to players who play Goalie, or Fullback if that is the position you are having a problem with. David at SoccerHelp