Coach Carol - Well, they called me to be the coach for my daughter's 7yr old soccer team. I am SOOOO excited, but also scared to death. I have never played soccer, but I do have knowledge of the game. Well, I know a little more than a 7 yr old. Please allow me to tell you how I am preparing myself and maybe you can give me some feedback.
Koach Karl - Thank you for allowing me to give you some feedback on coaching your daughters team. First of all you need to be 'Congratulated' for being excited about the appointment. Secondly, this is not a life and death situation so don't be too serious -after all you will be working with 7 year old girls and let's hope you know more about life and soccer than they do..! Finally, you will be the coach and not one of the players - so, you playing background is not that important...However, your excitement, enthusiasm and attitude will be very important. So let's get started with the feedback.
CC - I am continuing to watch your dvd as well as others I have purchased. I am taking notes while I watch and I am starting to organize my first practice.
KK - There is no need for you to continue to watch anymore DVD's. You will be overwhelmed with all the information given in just the FUNdamental DVD. Sometimes --less is better and that is the case here.
All you need at this point is to write down the '9-Steps' and figure out how you will teach your players to get from Step 1. to Step 5.
CC - I thought my first practice may go like this: Introducing myself and the girls to each other.
KK - Brilliant!!! You are already following the '9-Step Practice Routine' sequence...
Remember in Step 1. Begin the Practice - You are asked to, "Bring the players to a defined comfortable area" and "Tell the players what they are expected to learn or improve" You were asked to "State clearly the ONE goal to be achieved."
Well, your first goal is to have the players get to know you, each other, and the '9-Step Practice Routine' you will be using.
Socializing during this part of the practice will be less and less as you get them use to 'the Routine.' Because you know at future practices you will be doing demonstrations/explanations of technique during this portion of the practice. So, enjoy building camaraderie during this first practice session and let them know how much FUN they will have at your practices. Enough said..!
CC - Starting with fun ways to warm up and stretch.
KK - Excellent. The players have finished introducing themselves to you and each other. And the may have taken some time, which you gave them, to do a little socializing. Now it is time for Step 2. Warm-up -- that is each player with a ball will be in action having FUN with the ball and doing some stretching in between ball touches. Be sure to let your players know that they are in Step 2 and that they are Warming-up. You may want to show them various ways of moving the ball around -- using all parts of the foot. While they are inside the Figure-8 environment watch the girls closely -- Should you see one of the girls to a 'special' move...Ask that girl to demonstrate that move to the group and have them copy the move. See, you don't need to be able to demonstrate the girls will do that for you..!
CC - Then demonstrate shooting and then
KK - Demonstration and explanations this far into the practice is bad coaching. Remember the players are Warmed-up and now you are asking them to Sit, Listen, Get Cold, etc. Demonstration/Explanation should only occur at the Beginning of Practice (Step 1) or at Half-time (Step 5)
Your theme for the 1st practice (see above) was Getting to know the players, Have the players get to know each other and Exposing them to Five of the Nine Steps. Believe me that is more than enough for the first practice.
Let's say that they understand by the second practice what they are supposed to do during the First Five Steps- which I doubt. Then you are ready to start teaching them techniques...You mentioned demonstrating 'shooting and passing' at the same time. Would you attempt to teach a child (who is just beginning math how to add and subtract at the same time? Of course not..!
Take ONE technique at a time and you should focus more on their ball handling (dribbling --used during Warm-up) than getting to complicated techniques such as shooting/passing. The girls need to have success in ONE area before you go on to the next. Let them get use to the Routine, then go to individual with the ball before you go on the two individuals with the ball.
CC - With this, setting up fun games to continue to teach the shooting and passing.
KK - Your first few practices should be geared toward teaching the players what to expect. That is, what will happen at/during practice. Let them get use to you, to each other and 'the Routine.'
The "FUN" game should be played before practice. Remember, you have taken the position of being a soccer coach not an activities director. Teach the girls a "FUN" game if they don't know one. Or, let them play the "FUN" game that they have played in the past --but all this "FUN" should happen BEFORE practice. Once practice begins the "FUN" game is playing SOCCER!!!
That is why you should now teach them what to do in Step. 3 and Step 4. You will have to teach them how to Play the 1 vs. 1 game. Yes, they will be working on ball handling and shooting while they play the 1 vs. 1 game. But, they need to learn how to play the '1vs1 FUN' game first. You need to teach them that:
When they have the ball - They become the 1st Attacker and can score a goal --There!
When they lose the ball - they become the 1st Defender and must prevent a goal -- There!
At the next practice, if they have learned 'how to' play the 1vs.1 game (which I doubt) Then have them play against everyone else on the team. Believe me this will help them grow as players much quicker than any other game!!!
CC - Ending my practice with a short scrimmage.
KK - Wonderful. You are applying 6 of the 9 Steps in our Routine. You may want to consider having a Physical Cool-Down and Ending the Practice by giving the Players compliments and a homework assignment. If you add these two elements than you will have applied 8 out of the 9 Steps. You will and should skip the one step (Step 6. Small Sided Games) which they should start playing once they have Mastered the 1 vs. 1 game.
CC - It will last about an hour.
KK - You are preparing your players for Game Day. Figure out the Game Day Routine (Time to arrive, Warm-up, 1st Half, Half time, 2nd Half, Cool-Down) and attempt to duplicate the time periods as close as possible. Remember you are preparing the players mental and physical state to be ready for Play Day and you should have your practice as active in time and length as Play Day.
CC- Then the following week introduce something else, maybe ball
control, throwins, some rules, etc.
KK - Would you teach addition, subtraction, multiplication and division within in two classroom sessions? If not, then don't do this to your players. It will take them 10,000 hours of practice to become accomplished players. So, don't be in a hurry to attempt to teach everything at once -- No wonder 'You are scared to death!' Teach ONE aspect at a time and let them Learn other aspects on their own..!
CC - I am reading books on the game and am starting to get an understanding of positions, and where they should be on the field depending on ball position (believe me, this is way more than the girls know at this point, or need to know). The more knowledge I get the more I will feel confident.
KK - Yes, the girls position at the age of 7 is to be where the ball is...They will naturally 'follow the ball' until they learn that the ball does not get tired. Your job at this time of their soccer development is to get them to 'Learn to Love to Play this Game' More importantly your job is to teach them to play this game on their own --either with a friend 1 vs. 1 or with more friends --Small Sided Games. Once you see your girls playing soccer in their backyard, in the park or at school --then start focusing on positioning.
Prior to them 'loving to play the game' you will be taking time away from their playing by attempting to get them to stop chasing they ball -- they will ignore you!!!
CC - I've made drawings of the field on legal size paper and will use that when we get closer to our first game to give the girls a simple understanding of positions. Just an introduction so when I put them on the field they will understand where they are standing. I do realize they will be like little bubblebees around the ball. (I think they look so adorable when they do that). I am taking your advice and I will not be screaming at the girls from the side lines.
KK - Thank you. Thank you and Thank you. Yes, they will chase the ball and they will be cute doing it. let the parents know that your teaching them that they belong where the ball is and you will be a huge success in the parents eyes.
As for the legal size paper chalk-talk. Be sure to put 'your field' aside once you are finished and then have a blank field ready on which the players are to draw-up what you have just explained. This will give you a good indication on how ready they are for 'visual aids!'
CC - This long winded letter to you is just so I can give you an idea of some of my preparation.
KK - Slow down and go at the pace of the 7 year olds you will be working and having lots of FUN with..!
CC - I just don't want to look lost out there to the parents.
KK - Your goal should not be to please the parents but to put smiles on the girl's faces. Parents will love you --if you win and they will loathe you --if you lose. You are better off focusing in the girls who will love you unconditionally as long as they get to play -Soccer..!
CC - I am really doing my homework.
KK - Yes you are and you have done more than enough for now. Get to know the girls and how they will function in 'the Routine' then lets start focusing on teaching them some techniques. You have 10,000 hours before the will mature -- So, let's slow down and have some FUN preparing for the practices and the season..!
CC - As you can tell from the tone of my email, I am anxious, excited and SCARED!!
KK - You will be surrounded by smiling faces and lots of laughter -- If you follow 'the Routine' and teach the girls to have FUN playing soccer. Note the words "have FUN playing SOCCER" not some silly fun games -- but, 1vs.1, Small Sided or Scrimmage. But, you must teach them and they must learn 'how' those games are played. Then we will get to technique and eventually tactics --but, we are talking years from now!!!
CC I have a friend who used to coach her daughter's soccer team years ago and she is giving me some great advice. She said to me today, "Carol, with all the work you have already put into this, you will do great, because you care so much"... I hope she is
KK - She is absolutely right and now get started in teaching the girls 'how to' have FUN playing soccer inside the '9-Step Practice Routine!' Finally, Don't Forget to SMILE!!!!!!!