Training Essentials: Strategies for Success
May 1, 2023
As a team coach, how can you ensure your players are at the top of their league while prioritizing their safety and passion for the game? In the coaching position, there’s more to consider than playing the game.
You have to manage each player, the game as a whole, and ensure everyone is playing as safely as possible, not only because you care about your team, but also because you want them to see a long-lasting soccer career. Use these strategies for success when it comes to soccer training and safety.
What coaches should prioritize during training
With all the moving parts and people, how can coaches hone in on what matters most? Take a look at these priorities and make sure they fit into the planning, training, and playing regimen.
Soccer protective gear
One of the main priorities is soccer player safety; otherwise, there wouldn’t be a team to play the game. Soccer players themselves (especially youth players) won’t always remember to prioritize their safety during a game if their focus is on winning. It’s sometimes up to the coach to ensure soccer protective gear and training equipment/scenarios are used to keep the players safe.
The coach should make sure all players are wearing and leveraging their soccer protective gear, and use practice sessions to teach safe playing techniques and saving techniques for goalies.
Soccer headgear (concussion avoidance)
Of soccer protective gear, arguably the most important piece of equipment is soccer headgear. Storelli has published many pieces on the importance of concussion headgear. Soccer is a contact sport; either other players, goalposts, the ground, or the ball can come into contact with a player’s head and cause serious damage, not only to their health but also to their ability to continue their soccer career. Coaches should promote the use of concussion headgear since it isn’t a requirement like other pieces of soccer protective gear.
Moving away from physical well-being, coaches should prioritize their players’ passion for the game. When someone is passionate about something, they have more fun, they do better, and they make the effort to consistently learn and improve. A passionate team will see more success, whereas a coach that squanders that passion will have less enthusiastic players, less cohesion, and more absences.
Lastly, soccer is a team sport. Soccer tactics and proper communication are only possible within a team that values each other and works together toward one common goal. This is something coaches can invest in during practice and games, but also away from that.
Team events can increase the bonds among players and increase their ability to play as a unit. Teamwork can even lend itself to player safety as they’re more likely to have each other’s back on the field.
6 strategies for success to implement in training
With these priorities in mind, coaches should use the following seven tips to inspire their players and win more games.
1. Communicate effectively
With the stress of the game and all the different play styles and players, grievances and friction is bound to arise. Effective communication is needed to lower the chances of this happening, as well as address it when it does.
Keep communication lines open between you and the players, as well as among the players themselves. Foster an environment where feedback is helpful and concerns are welcome. Don’t let small points of friction turn into obstacles. Players shouldn’t have much more on their minds while playing aside from the goal of the game.
2. Trust your players
You may be the coach and you likely have lots of experience and background playing soccer yourself, but it’s key you also trust the instincts and skills of your players. Know when it will be beneficial to take on the leadership role and when it’s better to let the player(s) make a decision.
If you’ve been coaching well, this shouldn’t be a problem. You will have instilled skills and values that you agree with; then, the players might add to them to improve them. This is a great foundation to have because when the game is going quickly and there’s lots of movement, the coach can’t step in and help. Trust that the techniques and skills you’ve worked on with the players will shine in the game.
3. Run interactive demonstrations
Tactic demonstrations shouldn’t just be a conversation. They should be action-oriented. The players and the coach themselves should run through demonstrations to thoroughly understand them, work out any kinks, and ensure it will work in the circumstances of a game.
Use past games and practices to pinpoint areas of improvement and/or tactics that should be emulated again. Split the team up into two and play a test game to see how different tactics work and when they should be used. Do these trials during training sessions so there isn’t a risk during a game.
4. Praise players
Just like how players will learn when they’ve made a mistake and what they need to improve, they should also be praised and rewarded for the skills and behaviors that help the team succeed.
Funded teams will pay their players or give them bonuses. Not every team can afford this, though, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. Praise can be as simple as acknowledging how they played after a game. For team building and rewards, go out for a fun bowling game or meal, for example.
As a coach, find out what incentivizes the different players. Give praise but not so much that a player doesn’t value it anymore, but also not too little that players feel their hard work isn’t recognized. Find a healthy middle ground to drive players.
Success from one season doesn’t necessarily carry forward to the next, often because every team is always working toward improvement and others are using their resources and other proven successes to always be doing better. That’s what you should be doing too. Just because a play has proven itself a few times doesn’t mean it always will. Especially when a team uses the same tactics over and over, it will become recognizable and other teams will learn to adapt and overcome.
Use competitors and successful soccer teams to constantly learn new tactics, techniques, and play styles. This can be applied to both the coach and the player, but the coach should take the responsibility of ensuring their players adopt this mindset.
6. Be flexible and informed
Building off continuous learning, a coach should remain flexible and informed. One strict regimen won’t always perform. Often, teams will have to adapt depending on who they’re playing against.
In the moment, a coach should be able to switch things up, forget about their favorite play, and make a call they might not have planned so their team has a better chance of success. Know your players and what their skills are. Put them to use.
Protect your team with Storelli
Get protection from head to toe with Storelli’s soccer protective gear and concussion headgear. Don’t risk the value that each player offers the team. Ensure they play safely and uninhibited with Storelli technology. Shop here.