Notes for Coaches


Youth Soccer Coaching Manual for an Instructional Soccer Program



  • Always remember how important it is to teach the fundamental skills properly. As writing skills are built from the alphabet forward, so soccer skills build from the most basic first touches on the ball. (The concept of “Learning Progressions in Soccer” is provided under Introduction to Skills at the website.)
  • Coaches must have at least one assistant coach who can be counted on to take over the practice in the event of an emergency encountered by the coach.
  • Bring your cell phone.
  • Wear a watch.
  • No whistles are to be used.
  • Involve the parents as much as possible if they are willing to participate.  This is especially helpful for 3- and 4-year olds.
  • If shoelaces need to be tied, send the child to the parent so that it doesn’t take time or attention away from the practice.  Shoelaces should be “double-knotted.”
  • You are not to use goalkeepers in drills or scrimmages. This includes both players and parents. Players need to know the success of scoring. If parents are used to retrieve balls during drills, they should be well behind the goal.  For 3- and 4-year olds, at a minimum, no players should be directed to stand in front of the goal to block shots.  If players do this on their own, they should be asked to participate within the field of play.  Players at all ages should be taught how to run back and take a proper defensive stance/position.
  • It is recommended that you not use the same “fun game” more than twice in one practice.
  • It is recommended that you not scrimmage with another team until after at least the first two practices. When you do, it is recommended that you first scrimmage with the team in the grid opposite the “middle aisle” from you.
  • Write out a “lesson plan” on a “3 x 5” card for each practice. Include alternatives.
  • If a drill or activity appears to be hard to understand, move on to something else.
  • If multiple players seem to become bored or disinterested in a drill or activity, move on to something else.
  • Always demonstrate a positive, upbeat, attitude. Praise the players often. Try to ensure that each player is singled out for some form of praise each practice.
  • Try to “dress the part” of being a soccer coach.
  • For activities where balls are not used, you may establish a “nest,” consisting of a small circle of discs, at a flag or just outside the grid where the players may place their balls.
  • Purchase inexpensive shin guards for back-up purposes when parents and children forget theirs so that children will not have to be denied the ability to participate.  If they have to be used, remember to get them back (and wash them)!
  • Establish a “team identity” with a team name and a team cheer.  The name can be as simple as something related to the jersey color, such as “Big Red, “B,” or “Yellow Jackets.”  The cheer can be as simple as – all hands in / one-two-three / “Go Big Red!” as all hands are raised.  Reinforce this at the beginning of each session.
  • Introduce lining up for an end-of-practice or end-of-scrimmage “low-five” hand touch with a corresponding “Thank you / Good game.”  Reinforce this at the end of each session.

© Copyright, John C. Harves