A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Exposed: The secrets to developing confident young players
By Karl Dewazien
In order to succeed you need a plan, a commitment to carry it out and consistency.
When your players see and hear a consistent message from you, it reinforces your coaching way in their minds.
By knowing what they can expect from you and hearing it over and over, they will begin to assign a higher value and trust in your coaching, and it will show them that you take your coaching seriously.
Planning and sticking to the plan is a vital life skill. Regular schedules provide practices with a framework that puts order into a player’s world.
THRIVING ON REPETITION
Establishing a routine is difficult at first. However, it is important to note that while predictability can become tedious for coaches, players thrive on sameness and repetition. Experts on player development will tell you that routines and predictability in practices and games help players become more confident.
Routines begin from the first practice session, and often we find ourselves working with players who have not had the structure needed to thrive.
When a player does not know what to expect, they show signs of anxiety and stress through challenging behaviors. By establishing routines and structure, it enables a player to feel secure in their environment. Knowing what to expect diminishes a lot of negative, reactive behaviors, too.
PRODUCTIVE PRACTICING: ESTABLISHING A THEME
Practice sessions become more productive if you and your players are aware of what specific (theme) will be improved. You will be less intrusive because you will focus on only one technique or tactic to improve. You will also be less annoying because you will not continuously interrupt play to make a ‘point of refinement.’
Your players will know ahead of time why you are stopping them during the ‘cooperative’ portion of practice. Your players will be more at ease because they will become aware that they can make mistakes without constantly being reminded that one was made during the ‘competitive’ portion of practice.
OBSERVING AND NOTE-TAKING
Carefully observe your team playing either a practice or regular season game. Take very detailed notes when you determine: Who is having difficulties? What is the major difficulty or weakness? Key on this one weakness and make it your theme to be discussed, developed and improved at the next practice session.
Taking mental and written notes can be rather difficult because many of us become ball watchers, become emotionally involved in the action, managing players and assessing and assisting the referee! But, by taking mental and written notes, we can avoid these negative results and actually become proper role models for both players and parents.
Koach Karl Dewazien is the Emeritus State Director of Coaching for the California Youth Soccer Association. He is the author of the internationally published “FUNdamental SOCCER Book Series” and co-producer of the highly acclaimed “9 Step Practice Routine DVD.” He is currently a renowned Internet Educator of all things Youth Soccer. Learn more about Koach Karl and the 9 Step Practice at www.fundamentalsoccer.com
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