Tag Archives: soccer training

How do I help my kid get better at soccer?

IMG_0592I have been coaching soccer for over a decade.  During that time, I have also been raising 5 kids.  All of them play soccer, some at very high levels.  I think one question I get a lot from parents of the kids I coach is “how do I help my kid get better?”  So, here are some helps for parents who would like to see their child improve.

  1.  Two training sessions/week will not make your child an elite soccer player.  You need to understand this.
  2. Kids like what their parents like.  So, the first thing I do when I am asked this question is I ask the parent:  “how much soccer do you watch on TV?”  Almost without exception, it is little to none.  This is a problem.  So, you need to improve your passion for the game.  Watch it.  I mean all of it – not just the goals.  Learn why defense is so important.  Learn how keepers manage a game.  Learn how teams play through the back and middle.  Listen to an English game, when they applaud the defense for winning the ball and playing simply through the middle, and ask “why are they clapping now – there was no goal?”  If you spend your time watching baseball or american football, talking about baseball and american football, that is what your child will like (with rare exception).  So keep that in mind.  It starts with you.
  3. Talk to your child about soccer (professional), not about their game.  This will increase their passion for the sport.  We discuss league standings (Premier League), tactics coaches used, formations, etc., at the dinner table.  If you have a daughter, follow the national team — they are the top of the world.  Go to a match when you can.
  4. Take your child to a professional game or local college game.  For the players to see, up close, what top soccer looks like is inspiring. In some ways, I would recommend your local college team first as your player will have more access to the players and get closer to the game.  Your player’s team may even get to be collect balls on the sidelines.
  5. Play Fifa with them.  I know this is a big ask for many parents – but, if you want your child to understand and love the game more, (a) let them play Fifa (PS4 or Xbox) and, (b) better yet, play with them.
  6. Knock the ball around with them in the backyard.  No, don’t lecture them or try to make it “a session.”  Just go out and play.  Pass and receive – do a aim challenge (if you don’t have a goal, use a fence post), design a set piece with phantom defenders.  If you have 4 people, make a game.  We play 2v2, 3v3, with weird rules (the little kids’ goals count x3, only score with _______, volleys only, etc.).

All of these ideas are things you can do and you are spending time with your child.  One thing I have learned raising 5 kids, they like what you like if you make it fun.  If you are too serious about it, it won’t come off.

Technical Manual Released by US Youth Soccer

From Sam Snow, US Youth Director of coaches, here is the Skills School Manual.  If you ever wonder what the technical teaching points to dribbling, passing, trapping, shooting, defending, here you go.  Very specific with excellent diagrams. I like to describe it this way:  “Technique” is how to do something, while focusing on “tactics” focuses on when (and why if you are a good coach) to do something.  Too often, we focus too much on the “tactic” side of soccer at young ages rather than the “technique.”  Here is an introductory quote from the manual:

During the first fourteen years of a young player’s career the coaching

emphasis must be on technique. The actual execution of a movement is

always in the realm of technique. The challenge of “when and why” to use a

movement is one of tactics. In this manual the focus is the “how to”; that is

on technique. Technique is the body’s mechanical execution to affect the

ball; for example receiving, catching, shooting, dribbling, deflecting, etc. It

is one of the four components of the game and leads to ball skill. Skill is

being able to execute a technique under the pressure of opponents in tight

space and most likely on the move. Without ball skill a player cannot

execute tactics. Some players will:

o be able to do a technique in an activity but fail to apply it as skill when

under pressure from opponents

o be competent with the ball but not outstanding

o be technical but not skillful, while others will be skillful but not


o be capable of executing some skills against one level of opponent but

not another

Players gain more trust and respect for a coach who can help them improve

their technique. The result is confident use of new skills in matches.

Motivated players spend time working on their skills. Players will appreciate

the importance and thrill of learning new techniques and refining existing

ones if the coach creates the proper training environment. Then the players

begin to equate fun with improvement.

Novice coaches often find themselves in a Catch 22 at training sessions.

They can influence young players by helping them develop techniques, but

some coaches don’t know enough about the techniques they are teaching to

offer relevant advice.

Skills School Manual  Great Manual.  Enjoy.

Instructors in white – Sam Snow (left), Gary Williamson (middle), Neal Ellis (right)