Coaches: Practice with your Team


At a recent 360 Soccer Training camp where I was a trainer, I had something very unique happen to me that I want to share with everyone. A player who had never played soccer before was showing me how to play soccer. And, I must admit, he was doing it quite well.

At the end of each session, we had small-sided, Word Cup Tournament games. I selected the least experienced players to be on my team. Whenever I had the ball, I pointed where I wanted my teammates to move in order to be in an open space to receive a pass. When they moved correctly, I rewarded them with a pass. In turn, I always made sure to run to an open space when I did not have the ball. When doing so, I always communicated with my teammates with statements such as, “I’m right behind you” or “I’m open if you need to pass.”

There are many benefits of playing with your players during a practice, especially when they are young.

  • Show them, don’t tell them. In-game pointing and communication as described above are great examples of “instructing without instruction”.
  • Players will develop a stronger bond with you especially if you inject occasional light-hearted play.
  • As the ‘on-field referee’, you can easily dictate the flow of the game when necessary.
  • It is a great way to stay in shape.
  • If you have never played before, get out there and give it a shot. Apply what you have been teaching and preaching to your players.
  • If you are unable to play, get older players to fill this role. This would be a great opportunity for high school players to develop teaching and leadership skills.

It was not long after we started playing the World Cup Tournament scrimmages that this young, inexperienced player started to mimic what I was doing on the field. He started to direct his teammates to open spots where he intended to pass the ball. And then he would make the pass. He also had no problem directing me. I gladly obliged and followed his direction.

So coaches, practice with your team and relish moments such as these.

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