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Cheat Sheet

Coaching Junior Football Teams For Dummies (UK Edition)

Being a youth football coach can be a great experience, both for you and your squad. But what if you’ve never coached before, or want to improve? Don’t worry! Here you find how to approach coaching, and practical pointers on good sportsmanship.

Supporting Your Junior Football Players

Your young football players are counting on you for guidance and support all season long. The following are some helpful ways to meet their needs.

  • Be specific with your praise.

  • Stop training sessions to point out when a player does something well rather than when he or she makes a mistake.

  • While providing feedback, use the ‘sandwich’ method by placing a critical remark between two encouraging comments.

  • Pile on the praise for kids giving their best and displaying good sportsmanship.

  • Provide constant positive reinforcement – it’s the key to improvement.

  • Focus on fun and safety instead of wins and losses.

  • Be passionate and enthusiastic – it carries over to your players.

  • Have reasonable expectations and set attainable goals for the kids.

  • Remember that kids making mistakes is all part of the learning process.

Delivering the Pre-game Talk to Your Junior Football Team

What you say to kids before their football game, and how you say it, makes a big difference in how they approach taking the field. Here are some helpful pointers to prepare them for competition.

  • Speak in a calm and relaxed manner.

  • Be brief.

  • Conduct the talk away from any distractions.

  • Stress the importance of having fun and displaying good sportsmanship at all times during the game.

  • Stay away from overused clichés; speak from the heart to get your point across.

  • Avoid pressure phrases like ‘Let’s score five goals today.’ Kids can give you their best effort, but they can’t control the outcome of games.

  • Be enthusiastic with your tone of voice and body language. The kids will be more responsive.

Following a Pregame Routine with Your Junior Football Team

A good pregame routine helps set the tone for a safe and fun-filled day of soccer. Keep these tips in mind before the game begins.

  • Inspect the pitch for loose rocks, broken glass, raised sprinkler heads, or anything else that could injure a child.

  • Verify that all the kids brought the proper equipment.

  • Have the kids warm up. Keep the drills light, cover all the muscle groups that will be used in the game, and involve a large number of soccer skills to properly prepare kids for the game.

  • Give the kids a toilet break before the game begins.

  • Provide encouraging words and a pat on the back to boost kids’ confidence and enhance self-esteem.

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