Coaches Corner

How Not to Act While Coaching

Tips for new coaches


Fun, for you and the players, should be the number one priority. Your second concern should be that the children learn, and the very last should be if they win or lose.

Coaches who focus on the win-loss record are the ones whose players don't return the next season, and that is the true measure of a good coach.


DON'T focus on having star players, but work on teamwork instead.

Teamwork should be the key to the development of your players. An entire team that works well together can beat two or three star players easily.

Also, like all others, star players might move away or get hurt, but if your entire team works well together, then one player leaving the team won't devastate the rest.


Stress to your players that they stay away from each other.

It's very easy for players to bunch up, and that will hurt the flow of the game and the development of the players. Constantly tell them to keep away from each, and explain to them why.


Rotate your players through all positions.

Every player should know how hard it is to be a goalie, defender, midfielder, and forward. Besides the fact that the talents seen in young players might not be the ones that are best when that player gets a little older, you never know when you'll need one of your defenders to play up on the front line.

When assigning positions, try to stay away from nailing players to their own goal the player dribbles up to the mid field line and stops when he could have gone down and shot. When asked why, the kid responds, "Because the coach told me not to cross this line."


Praise your players when they do the things you want to see.

Don't praise the person who scored the goal (they know that was good). Praise the person who made the pass to set up the goal, after all it can be much harder to get an assist than to kick the ball in the net. Praise the person who made a good defensive play to move the ball back the other way, or showed great hustle and kept the play alive at the touchline.

In addition, when praising the players, make sure the entire field hears it. It doesn't take long the players and spectators to realize what YOU want to see. Use halftime to point out something good that each player did. Even if it was just touching the ball once, find something.

Have the players praise themselves and set goals for the game.

After the game, have every player tell the whole group something that they did in the second half that was real good. No matter what the score at the end of the game, this will help the players leave feeling good about something. Have the players set a goal for themselves to try for in the next game (ex. dribbling better or passing better...).


Correction of the players is a necessary evil, but you shouldn't yell at the players or be too hard on them.

When you correct a player, do it gently, and still find something to praise. It is said that in relationships complaints should come in the form of a sandwich (praise, correct, praise). This works excellently with children. Instead of telling little Billy to pass better say, "Great hustle to get to that ball. Try to make your pass go straight. OK? You're really doing a nice job Billy!"

Always remember that mistakes are not bad things.

Players who aren't making mistakes are either not being challenged or not playing hard enough. Players should NEVER feel afraid to make a mistake. It's the way we humans learn. Always tell the players that you don't mind at all if they make a mistake by trying. The only mistake is by NOT trying.

Coaches must create an atmosphere where players don't fear mistakes, and coaches must not let parents berate their child for mistakes.

Before the season starts set some ground rules with the parents on your team.

Tell the parents they have three jobs as parents on your team.

  1. To have the children at the games and practices on time (or let you know in advance if they'll be absent or late).
  2. To only cheer positive things (good job, good steal, keep up the good work, etc.) at the games, and leave the coaching to you and your assistant(s).
  3. To only look for the good things that their child did in games and practices and praise them about it on the way to and from the fields.

Tell parents to observe the 3 B' there, be seated, and be quiet. Not to say they shouldn't cheer, but they should not be telling their kid where to go and what to do.

Before the season set ground rules with the players as well.

Tell them that you want them watching the game when they are sitting out; they will be able to learn from the mistakes of their teammates that way. One problem many coaches have is kids trying to tell them where they want to play. You may want to tell the kids they will play where you want them. Remember however that the children are also there to learn and, most importantly, have fun. When the opportunity to place a player in a position they desire presents itself take advantage if it.

NEVER give into the kid who only wants to play one position and will simply stand still if out in another position. Let the children know that they are on the team to learn all aspects of the game.

Coaching licensing courses and clinics are offered throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Please contact your coordinator or visit to obtain specific information.

Also, be prepared, it's amazing how much easier a practice can go with just a little planning.