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Coaching Tips

Hi!  Welcome to Coaching Soccer at Southside!   This page is dedicated to growing and developing as coaches for Southside Football Club!


Our goal is to help Southside coaches develop their skills so we all have fun and grow our skills in the beautiful game.  Feel free to reach out and we will be happy to help coaches at any level. 


That said, this guide is intended for people coaching a youth soccer team for the first time who may not have advanced skills themselves.  These volunteers are likely working with young players, parents experiencing competitive sports for the first time and referees that are likely new to the game. We are here to help.  

If you’re looking for some more advanced topics please contact bryan at directly.  

Before You Start


As a Coach, your team will follow your leadership.  Are you a happy-go-lucky Coach or someone who yells at kids?   Are you stressed out or calm?  Are you angry or chill?  Players, parents, grandparents, siblings, and the rest of the sideline will follow your lead.  Leading your sideline is at least as important as leading your players.


Choose the tone you want to set and make sure you model it from this moment forward.  Setting a tone and demonstrating good sportsmanship is the best way to make sure your players and your sideline do the same.  Every coach does this differently, so make sure you are setting the example that you want to see. 

When you get your roster

Opening Communication

We are here to have fun and build community!   Contact the parents on the roster as soon as you can.  Introduce yourself.  Share any philosophy you want to share. Set a tone. Share practice and match schedules to the best of your ability.  This is your opportunity to ask for assistant coaches or team parents if you want them. 

A common comment to the team is to expect "The 5 S's".  This is: 

- Shorts

- Soccer Shoes

- Shinguards

- Soccer Socks (go OVER the shin guards)

- Shirt


This is the person who is ready to take the team when you go out of town.   They help with practices and running the team during matches.  They help keep track of subs on gameday. This is a soccer-heavy volunteer helping organize the team on the field.  Not all teams have one.  The first email is a good chance to introduce an assistant coach, or ask someone to fill the position.

Team Parent - (A.K.A. SNACKS!!)

You may want to see if you can find a team parent to help organize snacks.  Most teams have parents bring snacks after the game, with parents volunteering for 1 match a season.   The Team Parent help organize this.  There is no soccer-knowledge necessary for this position.  Not all teams have a team parent.

Social Events

Most Southside teams are as much about having fun and building community as they are about soccer.  Would you like to invite the families for pizza after practice?   For some teams, social activities and building an identity can improve overall experience.  Other teams will not care about this.  Is this something you want for your team?   Do you want to organize this or find help from your team?


Practices should be fun!  If you have fun, then your players will as well.  Having fun as a new coach can be a daunting task as there are a lot of logistics that can seem overwhelming. Our goal here is not to lay out specific proscribed directions, but help you build confidence by arming you with a basic skill-set, including a strategy to address early-stage player development.  


Players get a touch when they touch a ball.  We encourage practices to maximize touches on the ball per player.  I don’t have statistics, but I would predict that teams who get the most touches have the most fun and develop the most skills. 

Before Practice

Practice starts as soon as the first player or coach is at the field.  At minimum, you should to have a ball ready for the first player.  We want to get players playing with the ball ASAP.  Try to get players playing with each other as you start setting up cones and goals for whatever drills you have prepared.  Start getting your team touches as quickly as possible.  

Practice Formats!

Practice Format #1 - Play,  Practice,  Play

“Play Practice Play” is currently the preferred practice format taught by US Soccer.   Kids generally like this as there are a lot of game-type situations, also called "scrimmage".  An example practice would be: 

- The first ⅓ of practice is a game.  Either divide your players into 2 teams and play a game, or divide into 4 teams.  The goal here is to maximize touches, so teams of 2 - 4 work best. 

- The middle ⅓ of Practice is a drill or two, focusing on a specific skill 

- The final ⅓ is another play session.  Try and get the team to apply the skill that has been learned. 

An example of a practice with this format would be: 

  • Small sided 3 on 3 games

  • Practice dribbling skills using our weak foot

  • 6 on 6 scrimmage!  Weak-foot goals count for 2!

Practice Format #2 - Warmup, Drill, Play

Start this practice by bringing the team in for a warmup.  Running across the field or around a distant tree can work.  Then have the kids stretch.   We then enter into drills for about ½ of practice, and finish with scrimmage for about ½ of practice.   

  • Warmup run around the tree

  • Stretch

  • Sharks and Minnows

  • Dribbling skills practice

  • Scrimmage


The 3 “L”s: Lines, Laps and Lectures

These three things are indicative of players who are getting bored and not getting touches.  These three things are rarely eliminated from practice, but they can be minimized.  Players who are doing a lot of these things are unlikely to be getting a lot of touches, will probably be getting bored.  They may start distracting from practice and behaving "squirrely".  This is common, because they are kids.  Avoid "The 3 Ls" and your practices will generally be more fun and easier to run.  


Kids standing in line are not getting touches. Kids struggle to stand in line.   As a coach, the second and third kid may stop paying attention, or become a distraction.  Then, you change from coach to line-monitor, and that is not fun for anyone.  Often, the kid at the front of the line has something to do, the other kids are waiting.  Waiting kids are not getting touches.  


Kids want to play soccer, not run laps.  Laps aren’t fun.  As a coach, try to build your practice so the kids are running for 55 out of 60 minutes.  This will help develop stamina in your teams while also getting touches.  Kids need cardiovascular workout, it is one of the reasons parents like to send their kids to soccer.  

Structure your practice so kids get a cardio workout through the drills.  The kids will get a great cardio workout while also working on soccer skills.  


Players being lectured are not getting touches.  Players being lectured at are not usually paying attention either.  As a Coach, you will have to address your team, but try to minimize it.   Can you get your point across in 2 sentences?   What if you use two different sentences?  

Think about a "speech to your team" in terms of brevity.  Can you make your point in short, but powerful sentences?


Soccer has a group of "matches" making a "season".  All of it together is the "game".  Use "match" to sound like a soccer-pro!

Before the match

You should show up 15-30 minutes early on MatchDay.   Make sure you know where your field is, and make sure your team knows when you expect them there.  

Warm up your team

Teams that are warmed up at the beginning of the match will start much better off.  Get your kids some touches.  


Southside is a recreational league.  We try and make sure everyone gets roughly equal playing time.  There are as many ways of keeping track of subs as there are youth coaches.   One that works for me is to write all the kids' names down on a slip of paper.  Then, when a kid is subbed out, they get a mark by their name.  This helps me keep the subs fair and creates a piece of evidence to show everyone that you’re trying to be fair. 

Controlling your sideline

The thing most likely to ruin everyone's day is a coach, parent, sibling, uncle, or grandparent becoming a overly competitive and deciding to yell at kids, coaches and referees.  As a coach, you are responsible for leading your sideline and making sure there is appropriate behavior. 

The best way to do this is to lead by example.  Do not yell at kids, the other coach, or referees.  Be a good example.

This can seem at odds with one of the primary responsibilities of coaching, which is giving tactical advice.   

We will propose that tactics need to be discussed while the players are NOT on the field.  Players on the field need to be watching the ball.  This will stop if the player has to look at a coach. 

A better tactic is to discuss tactics with the players on the sideline.  These players can pay attention to you, and not the ball.  Then, when you sub them in, you make your tactical changes.  

After the match


After the match, cheer for everyone.  Your team may win, your team may lose, but we want to cheer for everyone.  We want to lead the sideline, and make sure that everyone knows that we are proud of the team's effort, no matter how the result goes. 

Appreciate the other team

Ask the other coach for a team name, and bring your team into a circle.   Put your hands in and cheer for the other side.  "1, 2, 3, FERNDALE!"  Choose a player to "lead the line" and say "everyone line up behind Ellery!"   Ellery then needs to lead the line of players to the other team and shake hands.  


Once the team is done with handshakes, they can then go get snacks.  Some coaches like to speak to their team at the end of the game, but it is likely that the players are now focused upon the team-snacks.   

In Conclusion

Thanks for coaching!  Being a youth soccer coach is a great way to give back to your community, as well as get some exercise and build some long-term memories with your children and their friends.

Southside doesn't happen without volunteers like you.  We are here to help, so feel free to reach out with any questions.   

See you on the pitch!

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