24 Tips To Be a Better Soccer Coach

As you strive to become a great soccer coach there are a few things you should consider. I have listed them in no particular order. These are just some valuable lessons I have learned from over 5 years of coaching at various levels. 

1. Understand & Respect The Rules

A soccer coach must study and fully understand the rulebook before even considering acting as a leader of athletes, whether you are coaching children or adults.

Coaches should also be able to apply these rules in practice. Along with knowing the rules, you need to apply them within the context of a game. It’s vital for soccer coaches to use and interpret the fundamentals. 

Expect players to ask you many times through a season for clarification about how rules are assessed. You need to know whether or not what they are doing constitutes an infraction.

Clarifying this is extremely important for your players, lest they assume you don’t understand the game’s rules you teach.


2. Prepare For All Scenarios

If the field conditions are wet, cold, or inclement, the coach should be prepared to alter practice accordingly.

Athletes can be informed of the structure of the course while they are still indoors. So your athletes are ready to hit the ground running when practice begins.

Under normal circumstances, however, once the group has gathered, the coach begins coaching after preparing the area and equipment.


3. Observe Before You Instruct

When you start telling players what they should be doing, you may underestimate their abilities and waste their time, but more importantly, you could lose their respect.

It is incredibly awkward to provide a lengthy explanation only to discover that most people (if not all) don’t need it. 

Coaches should watch the players first instead of coaching them skills they already know will be more successful. Without watching them in action, you cannot determine their starting level. 


4. Simple Instructions Are More Effective

Once you master the subject of communication, you will gain some valuable insights.

Everyone can receive and transmit messages, but some coaches tend to communicate their ideas more effectively than they accept the thoughts and opinions of others. 

By becoming better listeners, we can improve our coaching skills! The way we communicate with others is also expressed through body language, posture, and gestures (nonverbal communication).


5. Coaching Your Players, Not The Drills

To make a sound judgment, you must apply your experience and knowledge and observe what another person is doing.

It’s never enough to simply teach a skill in soccer; it’s always essential to convey to your players how to execute it. This strategy emphasizes that you coach the player, not the drill.


6. Accommodate Different Learning Styles

Using a learning style-based approach, one can ensure that progress is made by both the more capable and less capable members. It is best to explain this approach with the help of flowcharts. These will help show your coaching program based on whether a common fault or ability is present. 

It may look complex, but grasping and using the model is straightforward. It will be apparent to you quickly how this soccer coaching strategy fits with the other recommendations I provided, such as preparing your next coaching point ahead of time. 


7. Know Your Limitations

Being a top-tier coach in any sport requires establishing a solid relationship with a coaching mentor. You should seek a respected mentor whose values align with your own and who is easy to contact. If coaches see that you have passion and ability, they are often eager to be mentors, primarily if they have themselves been mentored. 

If you find a coach in the United States whom you can email, you will see them daily. The relationships that develop between a coach and a coachee can be beneficial. I strongly suggest that European coaches find a high school or college coach to learn from and contact him via email. Communications will prove very fruitful.


8. Keep Up-to-Date With the Newest Trends

There are constantly new formations, tactics, and plays coming out. Learning about them and incorporating them into their coaching makes the best coaches. With a new punting formation, you can gain an advantage in field position and protection, and a new blitz package can completely paralyze the other team for the entire half with a new trick play. 

Understanding these plays, strategies, and formations will enable you to surprise your opponents in a big way. From college soccer up to the pros, watching soccer will offer you an excellent way to achieve this since college teams are generally more willing to try new things.


9. Ask For Feedback From Other Coaches

The coaching staff on your team provides opportunities for learning and growth. Coaching peers will help you refine your skills, providing tips for coaching and communicating with your players. Having observed your coaching style from the outside, objective teammates who want to improve can often see things you cannot. 

Those who can assess your harmful or enabling behavior, unfocused or excessive intensity, or weaknesses in your technique or strategy can help you improve. Thick skin can also help you become a great all-around coach since overcoming your ego and stepping outside your comfort zone is vital.


10. Be Professional At All Times

All members of your soccer coaching staff should embody professionalism. Coaches must demonstrate competence and professionalism by modeling it to the players and the coaches they work with.

 It is essential to be punctual if you want to be considered a professional. Coaches must always arrive at training and games early, even before players. By doing this, you can schedule the training sessions without wasting much time.


11. Listen To Your Players 

Soccer coaches can make the mistake of forgetting that they are also human, and they often go to the level where they take all responsibility upon themselves.

This is not only exhausting, but it is also harmful. Your players will stop communicating with you; even if everyone knows that you’re in error, they won’t speak to you. The best soccer coach does not always have to be the one to have the last say.

Be more open-minded, and you’ll find more solutions. Your team’s development depends on getting the players’ views after each game.

Soccer coaches need to be good listeners because every person has a brilliant idea to share. Always encourage you to make sure your players know they can speak out. Team morale will remain high when players know their opinions count. 


12. Work With Committed Players

This tip is aimed at more experienced soccer coaches’. Few people are willing to go the extra mile to succeed, but many want to win. Coaching requires setting expectations and keeping people on their toes.

When working with athletes, it’s vital to find athletes that are ready and willing to commit. People tend to make excuses about why they can’t do something. 

It is no different when it comes to training. You will soon realize that it is no surprise why some athletes thrive and others fail when working with enough athletes.

When it comes to choosing the right candidate, there is almost always a question of commitment and determination. Find the ones that are ready and make them better with your sweat, blood, and tears.


13. Change Takes Time.

Our society wants everything faster, more accessible, and quicker than ever before. But results will not always happen overnight.

We must paint a picture for people, show them the way, hold them accountable, and show them the results to keep them interested and focused. 

We often face obstacles in life that can derail our progress, which is easier said than done. Whether it’s an injury, a family challenge, an accident, a cold, or a kid, there are a thousand things that arise that prevent you from working out


14. Stay Calm At All Times

When you make someone feel relaxed and safe, they are open to learning new ways of doing things, rather than avoiding asking you questions or feeling pressured to respond. You can tell so much with your body language. 

The role of a coach is a powerful one, and everybody wants to make an impression on you. As a result, your coachee will respond to any emotion and adapt what they say to fit that feeling, affecting their ability to think clearly.


15. It’s Okay To Be Wrong

You should admit when you have made mistakes. Acknowledge them promptly and without excuses, then move on. Ultimately, this will gain you more trust with the players. A top coach doesn’t make mistakes often, but they’re not afraid to admit when they do.

Alex Ferguson, the legendary soccer coach of Manchester United, said he told his players when he made mistakes. This was central to his success as he rarely made them again.


16. Keep Training Sessions Fresh

Ensure training sessions are up-to-date and entertaining. However, this does not mean that each week will be completely different. On the contrary, think of new approaches to the same activities. Encourage players with other methods. Push yourself to learn more. 

One of the reasons I am a successful coach is that I am willing to learn from other sports. I am a big fan of rugby, and one of the best young coaches in the world is a Welshman called Rob Howley.

When asked about his coaching philosophy, he said that you should never stop learning as a coach or want to stop learning. Otherwise, you should stop coaching.


17. Promote Positive Energy

Praising players when they succeed will motivate them to improve. Try to keep everyone on the same page. Have a positive attitude. Guardiola once said in an interview that you need to get rid of energy-sapping or just hostile players who leave others feeling inadequate or unloved.

 Make sure that you stay in close contact with your players. It is vital that they feel comfortable approaching you when they have questions. They may contact you for soccer-related issues, but equally, you could be the target of a broader world issue.


18. Work on Your Observation Skills

During training, pay close attention to what happens. As players grow, you may notice that they are developing into different positions – your left-back may become a left-winger. Keeping an eye on what happens off the field can help you prevent problems.

As you get to know each of your squad members, begin to form a mental picture of them. Identifying their personality is just as important as understanding their skills. Managing them becomes easier when you know them.


19. Develop a Sense of Humor

Whether you’re successful or not, there will always be critics. Some will be the parents or friends of your players. There are times when criticism can be helpful, so be strong enough to take it on board. Negative comments aren’t worth taking to heart. Believing in yourself is. 

Soccer should be fun. It’s essential to be able to laugh with your players and supporters while always remaining in control. As long as there is no overreacting, banter can strengthen a team.


20. Vision, Does Your Team Share Yours?

Do you dream of your team’s success? Is it a shared dream? Why do you want this team to succeed? Are you confident it can be accomplished? What is your plan to reach your goals? A successful coach never gives up on their dreams. But they also appreciate not every team or player will share their vision.

To get there, you must concentrate on what needs to be done. Your actions must reflect your hat dream. Everything you do, from planning to your actions and demeanor, you could start by asking your team what they want to accomplish. 


21. Go At Your Team’s Pace; Some Things Cannot Be Rushed

Coaching conversations do not always produce the outcomes you expect. Sometimes just stimulating players’ thinking is enough. It is often more beneficial to keep your insights to a minimum rather than including them even though you think they are valuable. 

Consider how you phrase your interactions. Express them as a thought rather than a definitive response, such as, “I sense…”, “What comes to mind is…” This will help make players more receptive to any suggestions.


22. Adopt a Multidisciplinary Approach 

To develop talent and enhance our soccer team’s performance, a coach needs to appreciate that their athletes are only athletes ost a few hours each day. Most live everyday lives for the other 22-23 hours each day. Some will not think about the sport from one training session to the next.

Soccer coaches who focus on preparing their athletes, teaching them to maintain their discipline, and looking after their health and welfare get the best results because they prepare people to be the very best version of themselves, all day, every day.


23. Inspire Change

This is closely linked to the point above, as a soccer coach should lead by example and inspire athletes to improve and always keep going.

You can’t just open the gym doors, shout order after order, and just expect people to listen. You must be passionate, a visionary, patient, and be willing to repeat it over and over again until it sinks in. 

Help people see possibilities, open up their eyes to success, and help them develop better habits. I am constantly learning, reading, attending workshops, and surrounding myself with inspiring people.

I frequently review and refine my programs in this ongoing process and open new doors to grow with my team.


24. Stay Ahead of The Competition By Learning Faster

In sport, there are no secrets any more thanks to the Internet. Now everyone has access to the same information if they want to know what you know, it isn’t difficult.

Information is available to anyone at any time. Every day, you can learn new things. A great coach understands this and works to accelerate learning more quickly than his rivals.


Final Thoughts

Soccer coaching is one of the most rewarding and at the same time frustrating things that you will ever experience.

You will have good and bad times, athletes who listen, and others who drive you mad. In the end, you will have made a difference and helped many people improve not only their soccer skills but also their life skills.  

Above are just some of the things I have learned over the years. I understand that if I want my players to develop. As soccer coaches, we need to evolve continually.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you get better results with your team, athletes, or other people that you are working with.

Connor Smith

I'm Connor, the guy behind SoccerPrime. I'm a former NCAA Div 1 college player that retired at the age of 21 due to injuries - which led me into a new career as a soccer coach.

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