To be a good soccer coach is to be an effective teacher and mentor while creating a safe and fun environment for players that keeps them motivated to hone their craft.
A good coach knows how to connect with his pupils and keep them hungry to learn and improve. What other qualities does the good coach have?
To be a good coach is to effectively master all the necessary interpersonal skills. A good coach can make or break the experience for a player and be the difference between a motivated student that wants to continually get better and a student that dreads the thought of coming to practice.
A good coach can make players look forward to even the toughest practices. Effective coaches remind players that the process is not always easy, the process of improving is hard, and that the reward is the journey itself. Doing so helps the players understand why they have to focus on conditioning instead of skills and help them find the fun in it because they understand the big picture.
A good coach is critical, without being harsh. Being positive and compassionate but firm when necessary is key. A good coach is not afraid to connect to his students; good coaches are open and friendly to players, but they are also not too lenient or lax.
The late, great coach, John Wooden was famous for never swearing or yelling at his players, and would use the phrase “Goodness, gracious, sake’s alive” to get his players’ attention when things were going wrong. He is the perfect example of what it means to instill discipline in players without the need for overbearing behavior or abuse.
A good coach absolutely needs to get the attention of their players, and sometimes that might include yelling, but a good coach should never belittle, berate or abuse his players, especially when involved in youth sports. Knowing where to draw the line and vowing to never cross it is a hallmark of an effective soccer coach.
It is important for coaches to take responsibility for their part in the players’ performances. The coach is, in part, responsible for motivating players and putting them in the best possible position to win. Utilizing their natural gifts and talents while aiming for success and instilling in them the fundamentals of the game is key.
A good coach keeps his composure under pressure. Someone who can remain calm under pressure has a good effect on players, and that translates to a better chance at success. By implementing a strategy, a basic framework that his players can use while on the field, and still allowing room for their natural talents to flourish, a coach can provide the ideal environment for independence and growth.
A good coach is a leader but isn’t overbearing. Obsessing over the fundamentals and imparting essential knowledge to players makes a good coach great.
Above all, a good coach loves the players and the sport and willingly shows it. Instilling in players a confidence that they can succeed as long as they are willing to put in the time and effort to accomplish those goals is crucial to effective coaching.
Great soccer coaches don’t just lead on the field; they lead in life.