As a coach, your main responsibility is to ensure that your players are safe, happy, and getting better at soccer. However, many coaches overlook how important having fun is to the players. Having fun has a huge role in whether or not a player will continue to play the sport. Here are my 10 tips on how to make soccer practice fun for kids
These are the 10 best tips on how to make soccer practice fun
To quickly summarise these are my 10 pieces of advice on how to make soccer practice fun for your players:
- Plan your practices
- Avoid lines
- Keep explanations short and sweet
- Lots of Praise
- Find the perfect difficulty
- Coach with a smile
- Create an environment where players feel comfortable
- Use a variety of different soccer games
Below, I go into more detail for each of the 10 tips on how to make soccer practice fun.
You may also find these 12 tips on coaching youth soccer helpful too.
Plan your practices
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
When you take your soccer practices you need to make sure that you have a plan of what is happening throughout the practice.
You will be able to easily explain, set up, and organize the practice.
Not only will you be saving yourself time and headaches during the practice, you will also allow the players to have more time with the soccer ball at their feet!
The more time spent playing soccer the more fun they will have!
This post will show you how to plan a soccer practice.
Players don’t come to soccer practice to stand in lines.
When you are playing your soccer practice, make sure that you avoid lines at all costs or have a very small window where a player has to wait.
Sometimes a small line may be necessary to allow the players to recover from a short, intense burst of energy.
Again, players will have the most fun at soccer practice when they are running around with the ball at their feet or getting mental touches (such as movements off the ball and thinking about their positioning)
Keep explanations short and sweet
This is something most coaches tend to struggle with, and it can be hard to get out of the habit.
To keep things fun and simple you need to try to explain what you are saying in as few words as possible.
If not, players will tend to switch off and not engage.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly players can adapt and learn from playing activities as opposed to having it explained to them in 2 or 3 different ways.
This goes for giving feedback too, keep the feedback as concise as possible.
Playing the activities is a lot more fun than listening to the activities!
Praise your players
This seems like an obvious one, but your players love being praised no matter how big or how small.
Players need to be able to feel comfortable to be able to have fun if you are constantly shouting at them this will make them feel nervous and they may make more mistakes.
Make sure you take the time to give compliments to all your players at least once throughout the practice.
Even if they weren’t successful in what they were doing, praise them for trying and help them identify what they could have done differently next time.
For example, I would praise a player for taking a shot on their least favorite foot even though they missed the goal completely because I know that what they were trying to do was the right thing.
Find the perfect difficulty
As a coach, you have to do your best to accommodate all the abilities of your group of players by creating games and activities where everyone can thrive.
This can be hard especially when the skills gap is larger.
When you are planning your practices you need to ensure that you have progression if the activity is too easy or regressions if the sessions are too hard.
If a soccer activity is too easy, players will not be challenged enough and lose interest.
Equally, if a soccer activity is too hard players will feel demotivated as the bar is set too high.
The best soccer activities for players are somewhere in the middle and where the outcome feels achievable.
This is where players will have the most fun in soccer practice
Coach with a smile
Your players will pick up on a lot of things, especially your body language.
If you look like you’re having a good time and enjoying yourself, then the chances of your players having a good time will increase significantly.
Coaching with a smile will help players feel more relaxed and it will help create an overall positive environment.
This can be difficult at times, but it will be worth it!
Create a positive coaching environment
This is arguably one of the most important factors to consider when creating fun soccer practices.
Players must feel comfortable making mistakes and taking risks, without the fear of being shouted at.
Soccer players will actually put a lot of pressure on themselves, and if they make a mistake they don’t need to be reminded.
However, it is important that they know how they can correct their mistake to ensure it happens less frequently in the future.
When you create environments like this soccer practices will be more fun for the players as well as improve their overall development.
A lot of time the kids are on their little planet.
The chances of your players understanding something the first time is incredibly slim.
Always allow the first 5 minutes of activity for players to get a feel for how it works.
It is important in these moments to take a step back and work out why something isn’t working:
- Is the activity too complex?
- Was the activity explained well enough?
- Is it just one or two players who don’t understand?
Being patient with your players and allowing them to come to you if they don’t understand something is crucial in making your soccer sessions more fun and enjoyable because of how approachable and patient you are as a coach.
Use a variety of different soccer games and activities
As a coach, you want to have a wide range of different drills and games you can use to make soccer practices fun.
The same drills and games can get boring and repetitive.
By using different drills and games you are keeping your players on their toes and challenging them every soccer session.
These are 15 fun soccer games that I like to use with some of my players.
These are some great soccer games for 2 year olds as well!
Give players challenges
Giving challenges to players is a great way to push them and think of different solutions to problems.
Challenges can either be individual or team challenges.
They can increase the difficulty of soccer drills and games while also keeping players engaged.
For example, if a team can make 4 passes before they score then the goal will be worth 3 goals instead of 1.
This also gives players the option as well and creates a risk vs reward balance.
Making your soccer practices fun is essential to ensuring the development of your players.
If players don’t find something fun, they won’t enjoy it and will therefore spend less time and effort on getting better at it.
Soccer is no different.
As a coach, you have the opportunity to give your players the passion for a sport you love.
Unfortunately, this can go in the opposite direction too.
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