For Coaches
Are you getting 100 percent effort from all your players at all times?

Are you getting 100 percent effort from all your players at all times?


By Karl Dewazien

As a youth soccer coach you will have the pleasure of being challenged to work with three types of players:

Practice players - Hustle in practice but not in the game 

Game players - Hustle in the game but not in practice 

Neither players - Do not hustle in practices or game

If you are at a loss of what to do, or having some difficulty, when coaching these type of players then here are some solutions to help you out:


Bad Solution: Raising your voice and shouting at them during the game to “hustle” is useless because they may not hear you; but if they do hear you then their concentration is broken, which will take them out of the game for a period of time.

Good Solution: Take them out of the game and let them know you understand that playing against an opponent is tough. Then ask them directly what is causing them not to “hustle” like they did in practice? You must then patiently wait for them to give you an answer! Note: Some of their answers have surprised many coaches.  


Bad Solution: Putting players into the starting line-up and letting them play most, if not the whole game, regardless of their attendance or effort in practice.   

Good Solution: Make your players aware that the starting line-up and playing time are earned depending on practice attendance and effort. Establish a Practice Point System (described below).


Bad Solutions: Trying to talk the player into giving more effort. Giving a compliment like “Great hustle” without explaining what they did correctly.  Raising your voice and shouting, thinking this will motivate the child to hustle is senseless and counter-productive. Don't point them out to the rest of the team. 

Good Solutions: Don't overwhelm them with verbal information. Have success at a slower pace before going on to a faster pace. There is a need for support and encouragement. Be patient. Slow down the action. Use role-reversal by having them tell you what “hustling” means. Give more group explanations on hustling to avoid pointing out the faulty player. Compliment with an explanation. For example, “Great hustle when you ran after that ball!”  Point out when they are hustling with a thumbs-up, smile or pat-on-the-back. Give them a chance to mature both mentally and physically. Be patient!


Establish a Practice Point System that players understand and which will motivate them to give it their all in every practice. Here are some examples for which points can be given:


 Number of personal juggle

 Number of dribbling moves mastered

 Number of goals scored in their 1 vs. 1 game

 Number of tackles made during small-sided game

 Number of passes completed during the scrimmage


Use your imagination for giving points and teach players (and parents) that points in practice will determine their playing time in games because the habits they create in practice will determine how they play in the game.        

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

Soccer Coaching Practice Hustle

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