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Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Association

Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Association

3 Best Practices For Coaches

Group 45.pngTalk to the players about their training WEEKLY.
It’s important that the players (and parents) understand the importance of individual training and that it’s something you’d like the players to be doing on a weekly basis throughout the year. 

Group 46.pngBe SPECIFIC about what players should do.

Tell your players exactly what you expect of them. It’s most effective to set a minimum standard for how much players are doing on their own each week. This should be something that you know all players can accomplish (e.g. 20-30 minutes/week). 

Group 43.pngHold players ACCOUNTABLE and acknowledge their work.

Your players do what you praise them for or praise their teammates for. If you create a culture of noticing who is working hard on their own on a weekly basis, you’ll have more players join that group. 


Note the baseline when you begin the coaching and learning journey

The following is an excerpt from: Clear Coaching: Harness Clarity To Drive Development by Todd Beane


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"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

-- William Bruce Cameron

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Understand the athlete before you today.

Be careful as you assess the baseline qualities of an individual. Keep in mind that numbers are not a person. Also, understand that you harbor bias and that bias bleeds into every observation you make evaluating the qualities of other human beings. The research on this is clear.

The point here is that children are complex and remarkable beings. They develop better with advocacy than with negative scrutiny. Do not obsess over analytics to the point that a child feels like she is playing sport under a microscope.

Stay true to your noble purpose of promoting learning. As you do, responsibly observe and collect pertinent information. You are attempting to take a snapshot of today.

Knowledge: What does your athlete know today?

Skills: What can your athlete do today?

Character: How does your athlete behave today?

Take note of the knowledge, skills, and character you have listed on the ideal athlete model. You will want to collect specific data that is aligned with those characteristics. There are many ways this can be done.

Athlete Survey
Ask the athlete. Why is she participating? What are her goals? What would she like to improve? What part of her character brings pride? What does she expect from you?

Parent Survey
Ask the parents. What are their expectations? What are their priorities? What background information will support the development of their child?

Physical Metrics
Conduct tests. Of course here it is important to make the distinction between what a player can control and what is beyond his control. For example, a player does not control his height, maturation schedule, or birth month. Do not prejudice a child for factors beyond his control.

Record the training. Record the first day's exercises and return to that video to show the player her progress. Keep in mind that a player's motivation is fueled by a belief in progress. An athlete may not see her own improvement. If you document progress and praise a player's effort, the effect is profoundly powerful. Show and tell, so to speak.

Of course, your specific sport will have its own traditional and creative opportunities.

In clear coaching, you are trying to present a realistic assessment of today without burdening the athlete with negative scrutiny. You will use this information to document the change in your student over the time she spends with you.

There is another reason to collect baseline data. You have an obligation to facilitate improvement. You are also on a learning journey.

The baseline is the version of your athlete today. Note it.


Mind your body language

The following is an excerpt from The New Way of Soccer: Skill + Instinct + Mentality = Success.


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A coach’s body language is a deciding factor in whether players aptly receive his or her message. Body language is subconsciously registered and (unfortunately) also subconsciously used. As a coach, if you can coordinate your body language with the message you want to convey, you will surely find success.

There are a few points to keep in mind that will make things a lot easier for you.

Body Language in Team Coaching:

Generally speaking, your body language discloses your emotions. In principle, this is nothing bad; however, you should know that it is sometimes beneficial to hide one’s feelings at a given time.

Let us assume that you are about to play the last league game that will decide whether you and your team will be crowned champions. You have a bad feeling; maybe you are even scared of what will happen in the game. You did not sleep well the night before, and you are extremely nervous. Would it make sense to use body language linked to these emotions during the pregame team meeting? Probably not. Rather, you should exude confidence and certainty of success, so your players can follow suit.

Many similar situations often arise: especially during games. The kicker about it is that not only can your emotions influence your body language, but also vice versa. Let's consider the aforementioned scenario. If you want to project the emotions of “confidence” and “certainty of success,” you must assume the appropriate body language. This means shoulders back, chest out, and standing with your head held high.

Simply assume this posture for five minutes (maybe even before the game), and you will see corresponding emotions start to gradually flood in: just in time for the team meeting. This might feel strange at the beginning, but you will become more comfortable in time. Always be mindful of positive body language when addressing your team.

Body Language During Games:

Of course, your body language is important during games as well. Most coaches follow their emotions here, too. That is not necessarily a bad thing; however, it is better to act in a way that is most beneficial for the team at the moment.

The majority of coaches make wild gestures and shout commands while the game is going moderately well. However, if their team faces a large deficit (say a score of 5-0), they will retreat and hide on the coach’s bench. It is during these less-than-ideal situations that players need a coach who gives commands and exudes confidence.

A different situation: It is the 87th minute of play and the opponents— down by one goal—are pushing to close in, getting stronger by the minute. It seems like it's just a matter of time before they tie the game. What do most coaches do on the sideline in this scenario? They nervously jump up and down, maybe even yelling out, transferring their nervousness over to their players. What does the team need in this situation? Somebody who keeps their calm and radiates confidence.

You can see what we are trying to get at. While coaching games, you should always ask yourself these questions:

How can I best help my players? Which emotions should I exude? How can my body language affect my team?

If I want my players to show composure during the game, how can I do the same? When I'm looking for more emotion out of my team, how can I mirror this on the sideline? Should I seek more aggression, how can I assume corresponding body language? This is not easy, considering coaches must process so much information— in addition to their own emotions. Still, the more often you recall this advice, the more your coaching will improve as time goes on.

Body Language with Children:

With children, it is especially important to maintain equal footing. It makes you appear less threatening and arrogant than when you coach them from above.

You should never assume intimidating body language when working with kids, which is rarely effective. Your own inherent authority as an adult will command discipline from your players.

The New Way of Soccer: Skill + Instinct + Mentality = Success by Dominik Voglsinger & Thomas Mangold, 2021 ($9.99 Kindle Edition) German edition: Der Weg zum richtigen Start!: Ball + Instink + Verstand = Fußballtraining, 2020.

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Dominik Voglsinger, a UEFA A license holder, has been a coaching instructor for the German soccer federation (DFB), currently serves the Vienna soccer association (WFV), and is also a high school teacher. Thomas Mangold has been head of youth development and coach of the SV Aspern and FC Hellas Kagran, and specializes in individual training. Both started their soccer careers in their native Vienna, Austria.


Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Assocciation
P.O. Box 6844 
Lawrence Township, New Jersey 08648

Email: [email protected]