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Guest Chris Hook

Coaching Players of Different Ages

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Guest Chris Hook

So often, we have soccer coaches volunteer to coach a young age group, and in their excitement to create the winning team, they forget what children are capable of learning at which age. Does anyone have some guidelines for age appropriate coaching youth soccer? Our league runs from ages 5-16, any input would be greatly appreciated.

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I was just thinking the same thing after watching my six year old son's football practice. His coach cut 6 players tonight after the practice. As might be expected he had some pretty upset parents. His reasoning was that the kids he cut just didn't want to play. My first thought was that this made a lot of sense, but after further reflection, I started thinking that he never gave them a chance to like football. This is their third week of practice and they have yet to touch a ball, haven't done many fun things in practice, and mostly just worked their rear-ends off running.

I have to admit as a coach myself, it is easy to get caught up in winning, the parents put pressure and I put pressure on myself as I am competitive. In reality though it is the kids who win or lose the games and that is what we need to keep in mind.

I think that you can work the kids hard if you make it fun and give them a lot of positive feedback.

I have seen coaches who are all about winning and recruiting the best players, in every league that I have coached in. My philosophy is to take any player that signs up to play and try to teach them. I have some parents who get upset because they want

their child to play for a winner, we always do well but haven't ever one a city championship. Some of my parents have even left my team to play for one of the teams that are always competing for the championship, so in effect they are validating the behavior of the coaches who only want the best players. These same parents have asked my why I would want to let my own child play on a team that isn't more committed to winning. My response is always the same, most of these kids will never play in high school why shouldn't they have fun and enjoy it while they have the chance, I can't be so heartless as to give up on a 7 or 8 year old kid.

There are many organizations out there who are committed to bettering youth sports one of my favorites is the Positive Coaching Alliance.

Schann

Positive Coaching Alliance

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