The Basics for Beginner Coaches

I usually write about coaching teenagers as these are the ages I currently coach. Recent discussions with a group of colleagues have centered around our beginnings as soccer coaches. I have found myself waxing nostalgic of those days when I was put in charge of my eldest son's first soccer team. What struck me immediately was how little guidance we coaches were given. It was basically, "here's your roster and t-shirts now go get 'em tiger!"   It was several years later that I wrote my first coaching manual. The target audience was parent / coaches involved in our local youth soccer organization.  This endeavor eventually led to publishing 3 age specific coaching manuals for coaches in that association.  These coaching manuals are apparently no longer in use and that is where today's writing begins.

The Shawnee Youth Soccer Association (SYSA) is a recreational league servicing our local school district.  It is a member of the West Central Ohio Soccer Association, a loosely organized independent league of similar community based soccer associations.  The manuals I wrote were aimed at coaches of recreational teams and the players they would be coaching. The SYSA was at its strongest when it adhered to the recreational tenets it was founded on.

My father and father-in-law were founding members of the SYSA some 40 odd years ago. Their vision was to provide an organization and environment to promote the sport of soccer that would eventually lead to the founding of a high school sponsored team. In this they were successful. At some point, as my three sons were coming through the SYSA there was a change in direction as the parents in charge decided the organization, at least in part, needed to place a stronger focus on preparing players to play at for the high school team which had become fairly successful.  Focus shifted from a purely recreational league to fielding teams comprised of only the very best in each age group.  Remaining players were assigned to other teams that were more recreational in nature. The competitive balance associated with randomly drawn rosters was lost,

The coaching manuals I authored were not really applicable to these "all-star" teams, or so some would have you believe. The manuals fell out of use even for the purely recreational teams within SYSA. In perusing those manuals I would agree a re-write is in order.  This is the catalyst for the reverse engineering of my current coaching philosophy and methodology. I have evolved as a coach and so too should too should the coaching manuals. It is an "if I only knew then what I know now" adventure that will undoubtedly result in new additions of those old coaching manuals. Rest assured parts of the new manuals will be published in articles on this site.

The logical place to start is from the perspective of a first time parent coach.  What would such an individual need to get them started off properly on their journey as a coach?

1) Basic coaching knowledge including an introduction to coaching philosophy and coaching methodology.
2) Sample practice plans, info on game management and guidelines for interacting with parents and referees.
3) Knowledge of the basic fundamentals of soccer
4) The Laws of the Game
5) Soccer balls, a few cones, scrimmage vests
6) Possibly a whistle, stop watch and clip board.
7) An understanding that soccer is a player given game.

The best avenue for presenting this information is a coaching clinic, imo.  And I did in fact present coaching clinics to the coaches of SYSA at one time.  Those too have fallen to the wayside.  It might well be time to bring them back alongside the coaching manuals.

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