February 15, 2013
As we move from basketball and hockey season to soccer season, our children may need some assistance making the transition to another sport. Children will need to be reminded that it will take some time to get their touch back on the ball and get that accuracy back into their passes. Effective coaches will use the first session to get the individual players back into the flow of the game and shake away all of the cobwebs from the offseason.
Tips for coaches to get the team back into soccer mode:
1. Be sure to start with an ice breaker at the first practice. We should never assume teammates know each other. Ice breakers serve to make players relaxed and comfortable in their new setting. A simple ice breaker coaches can implement: dribble your ball to a teammate, introduce yourself, leave your ball (take the other person’s ball) and go to the next teammate until you have traded balls and exchanged welcomes with everyone on the team.
2. Start with dynamic activities that focus on touches on the ball. We want players to be successful at the first session (in front of new players and parents) so start with non-competitive, no pressure dribble and move activities.
3. Find ways as the coach to mention everyone during the first practice. Nothing is better and more comforting to hear your name in a positive comment during the first practice by your new coach. Coaches should make sure every player gets positive and direct feedback on day one. We want players to feel good about their efforts and excited to come to the next practice.
4. Always end on a team cheer. If you have one from last season terrific or coaches can ask for a new cheer to start the season.
Athletes who are praised for their efforts (not performance) at practice will respond better to our critiques and will feel more comfortable challenging themselves to try new moves or techniques throughout the season.