Qualities of the Youth Coach


Of great concern is that lack of teaching or playing experience makes a poor coach. The ability to demonstrate is not a necessity of good coaching. Experience is a powerful tool but it’s not nearly as important as personality. Personality will determine coaching success, whether the outcome is a fun game free of physical and mental pressures or the building of a strong, cohesive team.

Knowledge Of The Game

Knowledge of the game’s rules, strategies, and tactics is a basic requirement for obtaining player respect. It’s important to become a student of the game at all levels.

Enthusiasm and Interest

During a training program, assume the role of a salesperson. Once interest has been developed, motivating players will be a simple task. It’s also important to be receptive to a player’s needs and input regarding team objectives no matter what their age. Being open to questions from players will ensure that they’ll maintain interest.

Persistence and Patience

Ignoring or not recognizing a player’s inability to perform a task is asking for trouble. Setting impossible goals frustrates novice players. The player’s desire to learn diminishes when he or she can’t perform. Skill development is built on player motivation and must be built up from practice session to practice session.

Ability to Keep Priorities

It’s best to plan a step-by-step method of learning that meets the needs of all the players. Players must be guided through each new experience or drill, and have sufficient opportunity to put previous lessons into practice. Only when each player understands and has mastered a skill should a new one be introduced.


Taking a genuine interest in the player’s physical skills and social and moral conduct is critical. Sportsmanship, team play, and positive attitudes must be stressed. Honesty with the players and being sensitive to individual needs and anxieties goes a long way. Rewards come when players show gradual increasing demonstration in complete play. Strength of character in defeat as well as in victory is a great foundation for a player’s future years.

Empathy with the Learning Process

Understanding the learning process will help achieve solid player and team development. Inspire the players to learn through motivation, involvement, demonstration, and guidance. To learn, the player must actively participate in an exercise designed to change his or her way of thinking and acting. Not only must the player receive new skills by observing and listening, he or she must also be encouraged to use these skills and ideas in practice. When the player is able to utilize what’s been shown, heard, or read is the learning process complete. Telling is not coaching and learning requires active experience.


Stimulating and motivating players makes practices enjoyable and rewarding. Situations should be created that challenge the players imaginations, appeal to their pride in personal performance, and serve meaningful game drills.

As a recommended resource, all youth coaches should check out these two great DVDs:

30 Games and Activities for U8 Soccer Players

35 Games and Activities for U6 Soccer Players

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