Welcome to the Haverford Soccer Club! This section is for you to learn about the game of soccer, develop skills as a coach, and help our young players enjoy the beautiful game. This is a resource to help provide a framework for you to start coaching. The fundamentals of the game, expectations, rules and guiding principles for preparing practices, running pre-game warm-ups and managing each game as well as suggestions for communications to your players and your parents. Review each grade level in the subsections to the right, as they build from Kindergarten through Fourth Grade. Additional resources are included in the manual as. If you are interested in learning more, the opportunities are almost limitless. Reach out to the club administrators for more information. Finally, thank you for volunteering to coach. Your time with these young people will have a profound influence on their social, athletic, and personal development and while that is an awesome responsibility, this manual and the resources available to you will help guide you so the players’ experience is as positive as your own.
Guiding Principles for Coaches
1. Soccer is an active game not a spectator sport. The enjoyment of the players is primary.
2. The spirit of the game is paramount: coaches should insist on uncompromising adherence to the rules. Sporting gestures (about all good plays) should be encouraged.
3. Coaches should honor and respect all the players, parents, fellow coaches, referees, and spectators whom she or he encounters.
4. Coaches are teachers. They should be knowledgeable about children and about soccer - especially about the prevention and care of injuries, nutrition, and the techniques of the game. Coaches should aim to teach players, educate parents, and continue to learn about the games as long as they are involved in it.
5. All approaches and activities must be age appropriate. The youngest players (U6) should be allowed to experience soccer on their own terms, to play “in their own world”, to become friends with the ball. At the next stage, (ages 7-11), techniques and essential tactical understanding - “reading the game” - should be emphasized. After age 11 come positional functions, the full field, more refined tactics and fitness training. For the youngest; “Let’s try…” and “Here’s something…” and “How about this?” as opposed to “You Must…” or “DO what I say.” Always, the key is FUN!
6. Coaches should rely and have faith in the expression, “The game is the greatest teacher.” At practice, the maximum amount of time should be spent in activities which develop techniques and in vigorous, realistic, small-sided games. All fitness should be accomplished WITH A BALL!
7. Emphasis should be placed on free, unstructured, uncoached play; coaches should do what they can to encourage “pick-up” soccer as a part of player development. Sometimes that is what is most fun.
8. It should be recognized that the soccer played by young kids, by adolescents, and by adults does not and should not look the same.
9. Coaches should remember that a child’s involvement in soccer, as well as theirs, takes place in the context of family dynamics and is only one of the many elements of one’s life. So, at the heart of soccer at HSC: Fun, positive spirit, enjoyment, learning and passion for the game.
Goals and Hopes for the Season
Responsible Coaches help parents and athletes set goals both on and off the field. Consider goals for the season such as:
● Love the sport at least as much at the end of the season as at the beginning.
● Improve skills and knowledge of the game.
● Want to return next season (Let’s work to keep them playing soccer!)
● Have Fun!
Make sure everyone has practice and game schedules.
Let them know about the access through Gotsport and where the schedule can be found online.
Answer questions about necessary equipment and see if there are any questions about practices or games.
Remind them to arrive 20 minutes before the game so the players can be ready.
Let parents know when and how they can contact you, (email, cell phone, etc.)
Finally, have fun!
Don’t forget: athletes, parents and coaches participate in youth soccer because we love it! Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the experience. Have a great season
(Adapted from Dean Conway, Former Director of Coaching for Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association).