By Karl Dewazien
What can you do about that horrible, anxious gnawing that eats away at you when your team is not playing like you planned?
Your instructions are being ignored or not heard, understood or applied.
Nothing you practiced is working.
Your coaching effort is going down the drain.
So what do you do? Let me suggest some solutions:
Talk to the substitutes: They are not facing the pressure of a moving ball or an opponent right on top of them. They have the room and time to listen. They may even be apprehensive about going into the game so this can help prepare them for the action. Explain to them what you want them to concentrate on when they do go in. Point out examples of good play they can emulate.
Lighten up: Sometimes it helps to just lighten up. Based on what you’re seeing on the field, crack a joke or two about what you must have overlooked in practice.
Prep for halftime: Prepare for halftime by checking your notes and making sure that the drinks, etc., are ready.
Take pictures: That’s right, use your cell phone and take some action shots. One coach I know religiously takes pictures at every game and puts them on the team’s website. He says it takes his mind off all the worries that might otherwise bedevil him to shout and scream during the action. Plus, his parents and players benefit with the wonderful memories from the time they spent on the team.
Talk to the parents: How well do you know your parents? Take time to get better acquainted. Strike up a conversation with them. Some parents get down on their kids so it’s helpful to point out something that a parent can praise. Some parents are shouters themselves and some may be hurting inside because their child is not playing quite up to the level of Messi and they’re worried that this reflects adversely on their parenting. Talking to the parents helps divert them from shouting and will help calm their fears and anxieties.
Keep stats: It can be as simple as shots taken or team passes completed – team goals that the kids can strive to top in the second half of the game.
Choose from one of these or create your own. Remember, it’s all about finding ways that enable players to learn and enjoy the great game of soccer.
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
Bowling Green football coach Mike Jinks on helping young athletes embrace roles, recognize responsibilities and be all in for the team
Dr. Jesse Michel, mental skills coordinator for the World Series Champion Houston Astros, on helping young athletes improve focus and concentration to perform at their best
University of Tulsa football coach Philip Montgomery on the importance of sending players home in a positive frame of mind
Olympic swimming great Dana Vollmer, winner of five gold medals, challenges coaches of all youth sports to find the most effective ways to motivate all their young athletes