I like to watch other teams practice. Teams of all ages. I am constantly looking for new things to teach, new ways to teach. Mostly I shake my head in dismay. I don’t think that’s arrogance, I hope not. What I see are teams that pass poorly, trap worse and players who have little grasp of the concepts that make up the game of soccer.

Unfortunately I see coaches who haven’t gotten to know their players, don’t understand the game and use the same drills year after year no matter the age group. Those u10 drills you ran don’t belong at u14.

It’s no wonder we get 12, 13, 14 year old players who don’t understand movement off the ball or the Laws of the Game. We have coaches who just don’t know.

OK, I apologize to all of the volunteer parents who have never played or watched a soccer match yet step up and coach their kids team. This is admirable. If you are filling in for a season you deserve a pat on the back and a big hug. If you continue coaching then do some homework.

Last night my youngest son had practice, a team I don’t coach, and I walked around watching other teams practice. My son’s team moved their practice because of a game being played on their normal field, a field which sits alone. This new location had five fields around it with a team on each varying from u8 to u12. In addition there was a privet lesson going on with a single player whom I knew.

As I walked I’d stop to listen to the coach, watch the players and wonder if I did the same crap they were doing.

I certainly hope not although I’m afraid I did.

Something I know I did not do, I never had anyone other than myself coaching my team. There was one u8 team with three adults on the field all chattering about different things the players should be doing, AT THE SAME TIME!

Those kids will learn a lot this season.

I have had help but the one who tried to ‘take over’ was quickly told help was not needed. Everyone else followed the program.


One team spent nearly half the practice doing some sort of yogagymnasticscalisthenics drill. I really had no idea it was soccer practice until I saw a bag of soccer balls sitting next to some cones. I seriously thought it was cheer leading practice.


The u12 team ran a scrimmage the entire time. I understand this, it’s near the end of the season let’s have fun and play. They weren’t very good at the 20% though. I have to wonder what other practices look like.


A u10 team ran a three man attack against two coaches. Not sure what they did other than that. Not sure why the coaches would be defense instead of their actual defenders. I love ending a practice attack v defense.


Another u10 coach was teaching his team to sue a chop turn. He explained how cock the leg acting like it was a power kick, turn the hips and chop the ball around the defender. His team of eight year olds didn’t get it nor could they perform the action. He was planting seeds for the future which is a good thing.


Then there was a u14 team which, for the most part, can’t trap and passes poorly. What’s more they have little concept of team, system, tactics or the Laws. Nothing they did helped with any of these areas.


Yes, I am critical of most of the youth soccer coaching that I see. I love the game, I love the kids and it is painful to see coaches yelling at players, hollering instructions, frustrating players, themselves and parents.

Coach well in practice. Do your homework. Care for your players. Shut up during the game.

The football coaches, baseball coaches, basketball coaches, tennis coaches I know understand their game because they played, they love, they coach. Soccer is different. I started playing soccer in 3rd grade, 1971. Most adults my age and even decades younger have not played soccer. They haven’t watched soccer. Yet some are coaching soccer. Better coaching will arise from our kids who have grown up with the sport. That’s when we will see a major shift in talent. Until then we as parent coaches must research and grow just as we expect our kids to do.

Rocky at the Candle Cafe

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