Who Should Take Soccer Goal Kicks?
Soccer Coaching Success Story
How to be Competitive Against a Better Soccer Team
Teaching the desire to win while still being a good sport
Do You Need to Let Every Kid Take Goal Kicks at U8 & Older?
How to Make Soccer Defenders Feel as Important as Scorers
How to Keep a Winning Soccer Team from Getting Complacent
How to Teach Soccer Players to Play Fast
The Danger of Letting Soccer Players Practice Slow

(The following 2 letters are from the Premium Forum. The first is a success story about beating a better team. The second covers many topics including who should take goal kicks, how to be competitive against a better soccer team and the danger of letting soccer players practice slow.)

Number 1:

We lost our prior game 6-2. This game, I told the girls that if they HUSTLED and played BRAVELY that they could have a gold star patch. This was my first time using the patches and I wasn't sure if they'd go for it. The girls thought it was pretty cool. A girl that is injured was at the game and even said, "I want a gold star!" Anyhow, the effect of practices and the pep talk and the gold stars was amazing! The girls were night and day different on the field. The parents noticed it, too, and my wife told me all the comments after the game. One parent remarked to me during halftime, "They are completely different this week. Its night and day. What did you do this week?" The defense was hustling and fighting for the ball every time it was in our defensive half. EVERY girl was hustling and getting after the ball, every girl. My brand new, never played soccer before two weeks ago girl... was trying to win balls! The score was 2 - 1 in our favor at the end of the game and we were outmatched in the talent and skills department by the other team. If the girls give me that effort week after week, I'll accept a win, lose, or draw... because I will know the girls gave everything they had to give.

Coach Al, U11, Premium Member


Number 2:

Hi SoccerHelp,

We won our game on Saturday 3-0 against one of the worst teams in the league. I expected an 8 or 9 goal win, but the other team has improved since the start of the season, and they did one thing well - defend the Center of the Field (http://www.soccerhelp.com/Soccer_Tips_Dictionary_Terms_C.shtml) . It was your text book example of how a less talented team can compete with a more talented team by placing your resources where most of the goals will be scored. That being said, their Keepers played extremely well and we missed numerous shots which had been scoring in other games, and the other team only managed one shot "on goal."

We played well except for the fact that ALL the girls wanted to score because they knew (not from me) that this team had lost most of their games by 5 goals or more. I had to struggle to get my Midfielders back on defense and keep my Stopper (http://www.soccerhelp.com/Soccer_Tips_Dictionary_Terms_S.shtml) from being too offensive.

The other coach did a good job without much to work with. His team was newly created this year due to increased girls participating in the league. I hope his parents see the improvement his team has made.

One thing I noticed with many of the teams in our league is that out of "fairness" they let girls take Goal Kicks (http://www.soccerhelp.com/Soccer_Tips_Dictionary_Terms_G.shtml) who can barely get the ball out of the box. My forwards subsequently pounce on these balls. Last season, I only let girls take goal kicks who could at least get the ball 3/4 of the way to mid-field, and told the other girls they can do a goal kick when they reach this minimum level. This year it is not an issue because all my Keepers have now reached this level. I would rather reward improvement, your thoughts?

Coach U, U10, Premium Member


Hi Coach U,

I agree about only letting players take a Goal Kick who are able to clear the ball. Soccer is a team sport and it isn't fair to the rest of the team to let a player take a Goal Kick that could cost the game when you know that player can't clear the ball. In fact, by doing so, a coach is putting a player who is almost certainly going to fail at that Goal Kick in the spotlight, and I don't think that is good - it's like setting a kid up to fail. Also, I think doing that could cause the rest of the team to believe 2 things that I think are bad:

1. That winning doesn't matter. I think most parents want their kids to grow up with the attitude that winning is important, not the attitude that it doesn't matter.

2. That they don't need to try hard and do their best, because the coach isn't doing his best to help the team win the game (if the coach doesn't care, why should I?)

As you know, I'm very opposed to a "Win at Any Cost" attitude, but I'm in favor of teaching kids to do their best, trying to win, and also being a good sport. As Vince Lombardi said: 'Winning is contagious. Unfortunately, so is losing."

You've reached the point where you understand the game enough to understand the "cause and effect" of the way your opponent plays, and that will let you continue to improve as a coach. I agree, the opposing coach did a great job. His coaching allowed his team to hang in there and not be embarrassed.

One thing I suggest to you is to place more emphasis on rewarding the actions that lead up to a goal, and that prevent your opponent from scoring. Your Defenders should feel as proud of their achievements as your Attackers. That is one of the ways the patches are used -- as a visible sign that defenders are important and are being recognized. The scorers get all the glory, but the player who steals the ball, or clears the ball, or stops a breakaway, or makes the great pass, or makes the assist, also deserves recognition. As you know, there are many things that contribute to success.

One other thing you should think about: When you have easy victories, your team can start to get complacent and practice and play sloppy. At practice, ALWAYS make them play our Soccer Drills that are Practice Games at Game Speed and as much as you can, play the games that involve competition -- DO NOT let them PRACTICE SLOW, or they will start to PLAY SLOW. Also, when you get 4 goals in front you might think about moving players around or putting on game-realistic restrictions so your players can't start to play slow or sloppy. A CHALLENGE YOU WILL FACE is to keep your players giving it 100% instead of starting to goof around, play sloppy and play SLOW. I've seen this happen and there are articles about it on Premium.

Thanks for writing, I enjoy your observations.

David at SoccerHelp