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How To Coach Youth Soccer - Communication Tips
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Karl Dewazien of FUNdamental SOCCER, Emeritus State Director of Coaching for the California Youth Soccer Association 1978-2012, discusses how to improve your players' experiences by using the right words.
How often have your players come to you during a practice session and asked, “Coach, can we please do the following soccer drill?” vs. Having them come to you and ask,” Coach, when are we going to scrimmage?”
As a child (if you can remember that far back) did you get together with your friends and say, “Hey, how about we do the following soccer drill?” Actually, you name the sport (baseball, basketball, football) and try to remember which ‘drill’ you asked your friends to participate in? Or, did you get together, choose teams, and begin playing that particular game, maybe with a few modifications because of the number of players, facilities, etc., available?
Can you imagine a group of kids in Brazil/Argentina/Germany/Holland/US getting together and saying, “I think we should do the following soccer drill!” Or, do you see them just choosing teams and starting to play soccer?
Do you see a trend here? Are the children, even you as a child, telling us something about the words we are and should be using? Does it matter what words we use? Do words really make that much difference?
Your word selection as a coach can make all the difference
Let’s begin by checking the dictionary and see which words have a more enjoyable sounding definition: “Drill” – Instruct by repetition; strict training and instruction.”
Do you think your players come to you to be Instructed by Repetition? Have you been exposed to the word ‘boring?’
Do you think your players come to you because they want Strict Training and instruction? Do you believe that the ‘love of the game’ can be taught through strict instruction?
We develop the often used words’ soccer drill’ by combining the word soccer with drill. Our soccer dictionary would then result in the following definition. “Strict, Repetitious, Instructions to develop youth soccer players!”
Strictness has often resulted in players standing in lines, waiting for their turn to touch the ball, and being under the coach’s scrutiny.
Repetition has often resulted in players standing in line, waiting for their turn to touch the ball, and under the coach’s scrutiny.
Instructions have often resulted in players listening to the coaches’ verbiage while standing in lines, waiting for scrutiny.
Let’s recheck the dictionary and see what we have for the word: “Game” – Playing activity; Competition According to Rules.
Do you think your players come to you so they can be in action, which causes change while being lively, vigorous, and energetic? Have you been exposed to the word ‘FUN?’
Do you think your players come to you because they want Competition according to rules? Do you believe the ‘Love of the Game’ can be taught by playing soccer within the Laws of the Game?
If we combine the word soccer with game, we come up with the words’ soccer game.” Our soccer dictionary would then result in the following definition. “Playing, Actively, With Rules!”
Playing has often resulted in players having to move around the field as the ball moves, touching the ball when they are on Attack, touching the ball when they regain possession in Defense, and being observed by the coach who helps when necessary.
Actively results in players meeting the demands of the game, learning while playing soccer, and receiving help from the coach when necessary.
With Rules, players play in a safe environment while learning the game and receiving help from the soccer coach when necessary.
It may seem and sound silly to ask for a change from the word ‘drill’ to using the word’ game.’ Thousands of skeptical youth coaches who made the change have returned to praise the positive changes in their attitude toward practices. And they have written about the noticeable difference in their player’s attitudes.
The ’FUNdamental 9-Step Practice’ was built on ‘buzzwords,’ making the game more straightforward for the developmental players and coaches. We have found that eliminating the words ‘Soccer Drills’ and replacing them with the words ‘Soccer Games’ can/does make an attitudinal change.