Resources for Coaches

Tips for the First-Time Coach!

Female Knee Injuries

Emergency Action Plan Checklist

Access to telephones:

  • Cell phone, battery well charged
  • Training venues other than home field
  • Home venues
  • Away venues
  • List of emergency phone numbers (home competitions)
  • List of emergency numbers (away competitions)

Directions to access the soccer fields/facility

  • Accurate directions to the field/facility
  • Accurate directions to the field (home competitions)
  • Accurate directions to the field (away competitions)

Players information

  • Personal profile forms completed
  • Emergency family contact information
  • Medical profiles up to date

Personal Information

  • The person in charge is identified
  • The call person is identified
  • Assistants (charge and call persons) are identified

Youth Soccer Players

Readiness for competitive youth soccer should be based on an evaluation of the compatibility between a child's level of growth, maturity and development and demands of the task. The concept of 'readiness' is addressed in this article and some guidelines for parents and coaches are presented, in order to make an informed decision of a child's readiness for competitive soccer participation.

Many parents and coaches assume that once a child meets the age requirement for participation in a given sport that he or she is ready for it. Children are becoming active participants in soccer programs more frequently than ever before. Many children are 'forced' into competitive soccer. In some cases the child is as young as 6 years, but on average a child is exposed to competitive soccer from the age of 9 years. These youngsters are expected to adapt to the pressures of a competitive environment. Children are not miniature adults, either physically, psychologically, intellectually or socially, and the transition from fun to serious competition does not take place easily.

Social Comparison

Through soccer participation, children seek a combination of four elements:

  • Action/Playing
  • Personal involvement in the action
  • Close games and challenges matching their skills
  • Opportunities to establish friendships

Competition is a process of social comparison. Children will compete in any sport that allows a natural opportunity for them to test, evaluate and establish their ability against other youngsters. Comparison begins to emerge in children from the age of 6 years and strengthens throughout the school years as participation in soccer increases, peaking around the age of 14.

Competitive games present children with numerous demands. The potential for the stress exists in youth soccer because players may doubt their own physical or skill capabilities to meet the demands imposed. Fear of failure is a primary source of worry for young players in addition to the fear of social evaluation and not meeting the 'expected' performance targets. Although the process of social comparison is witnessed in early childhood, most children under the age of 12 years have a minimal concept of their role within competitive soccer. This does not mean that they should not participate, but that game structures and adult expectations of performance should be modified to meet the developmental capabilities of the children. Implicit in the concept of readiness is that learning (and development) is more rapid and more enjoyable.


Selection for a soccer team may be made by the parents, the coach or a combination of. Self-selection is a critical factor in a child's sporting development. The child is the one who must practice, be receptive to coaching, and ultimately, compete. The motivation of a child to practice and compete is an essential pre-requisite for successful performance. Without motivation/desire, successful participation in soccer is unlikely.

The key to success in sport does not lie in how early a child is exposed to competitive soccer, but that the child concerned in the sport is optimally ready to be involved. This optimization must also account for the readiness to accept failures.

Points of Interest

  • Competing to win games must be secondary to the goal of coaching the skills of the game, especially in the children under 12 years, but competing should not eliminated.
  • Children must be empowered to 'self-select'.
  • Children's sporting experience should not be restricted. The onset of optimal readiness will be greater if children are exposed to a variety of sporting activities. This may include various sports, as well as positional variations within each sport.
  • Soccer programs should provide an environment in which children want to participate.
  • Youth soccer programs need to be closely linked to the concept of readiness (i.e. ready to learn, ready to compete, ready to accept failure and ready to continue to develop and improve performance)

These points should be considered by parents and coaches in order to make an informed decision as to whether a child is ready, or not, to cope with the demands of competitive youth soccer. Given the demands of elite soccer programs, the greatest threat to a child's overall development is the 'over-control' and 'over-expectation' of children, assumed by adults, for the sake of achievement within sport for their own self interests.

Head Injury and Spine injury

A 'significant' head injury would include any head injury that resulted in an open wound or a lump anywhere on the head or face. The injury may result in damage to the face including the mouth resulting in loose or missing teeth, bleeding, injury to the eyes, the jaw or ear's.

There are two possible injuries to consider;

  • Head Injury resulting in Concussion or Compression
  • Head injury that may also result in a Cervical Spine Injury

Concussion usually results from the head striking something hard - heads banging together, the head striking goal posts, the head striking hard artificial surfaces, or being struck by something hard - heads, boots, elbows, knees, etc.

"If there is a significant head injury - then there is a neck injury until this is dis-proven by x-ray"

Concussion is sometimes described as 'brain-shaking'. This is because the soft tissue which forms the brain is violently shaken during the actual injury occurring and in some cases, the inside surface of the skull. The brain has suffered an actual injury and as such, any player who has suffered from concussion must not be allowed to continue playing. Naturally, this player is going to attend hospital for treatment and a more thorough assessment immediately after the injury.

A physician must clear the player before he/she can play again. Generally, the period of time between injury and final medical assessment must not be less than seven days. It is quite likely that the player may suffer some signs or symptoms such as dizzy spells or vision disturbance for up to seven days. Only when the player is 'symptom free' can he/she be considered for playing again.


Concussion may not be obvious straight away, but the casualty may show some of the following signs and symptoms.

  • Have reduced levels of response
  • Develop unusual behavior
  • Have and obvious head injury
  • Not have an obvious head injury
  • May feel nauseous or even vomit
  • May feel dizzy
  • May have ringing in the ears
  • May have disturbed vision
  • May not be able to follow a moving object, for example if you ask them to follow your moving finger
  • Loss of memory of events immediately prior to and just after the injury
  • Repeatedly ask the same question over and over again

Spine Injury

If casualty has suffered a 'significant' blow to the head or face that results in a head or facial injury then you must assume that there is a 'Cervical Spine Injury' until it is disproved by x-ray.

Any lump, cut, bruise ANYWHERE on the head or face will mean that there has been violence applied to the head or face which also means that the neck may have also been involved in this injury to some degree.


Compression is usually the result of bleeding within the skull following a blow to the head or face. The result of the injury may produce bleeding within the skull, which may be sudden, or gradual, but will increase the pressure within the skull.

Initially the brain is able to tolerate some changes in pressure and it is during this time that the blood clot may increase in volume without any noticeable changes in the casualty's behavior. The casualty may be conscious and talking - this period is sometimes reffered to as a 'lucid interval'. As the pressure increases, an important early sign to observe is deterioration in the casualty's levels of response. The casualty may become confused and disoriented or give inappropriate responses or grunting noises to your questions. It is of vital importance that the casualty is kept under close observation and is sent to hospital for treatment and assessment of the head injury.


Coaching Communication

  • The Coach is failing to spot the flaws in the practice and subsequently neglecting to make appropriate corrections.
  • The coach is boring the group with long-winded speeches
  • The coach is complicating the exercise by offering too much Information and by elaborating on the information he feels comfortable with (same old)
  • The coach is failing to demonstrate
  • The coach is offering instructions, not showing and telling
  • The coach Is failing to communicate clearly to every player
  • The coach is offering a running commentary
  • The coach is demonstrating something he cannot demonstrate properly (painting the wrong picture)
  • Demonstrations, Clear Instruction, Enthusiasm All about "show and tell"
  • Patience If you do not have time to do it right When will you have time to do it over
  • Compromise Coach must "LISTEN" to understand When we hear the problem we can resolve it. If we do not listen WE.' will never fix it.
  • Perfect Communication "KEEP IT SIMPLE"
  • Honesty and Consistency If you are honest in your dealing with people and consistent with your honesty your communication with people will be based on trust.. "This honesty opens up the dialogue"

Dealing with Difficult Players

  • Be the perfect role model (People follow leaders)
  • Get to the bottom of the problem (Any hidden agendas eg., family problems)
  • Ask yourself "Am I the problem?"
  • Reverse role scenario\
  • Peer pressure (Appoint a mentor) (Fellow player or fellow coach)
  • Give them responsibilities (Most people change when accountable)

Dealing with Criticism

  • Always be calm.
  • Do not be defensive
  • Acknowledge the criticism
  • Separate yourself personally from the criticism
  • Reverse the roles (what would I do, if I was him)
  • Mention your appreciation for the critics' comments and time
  • If the criticism is totally unfounded ask for more evidence


"The way you are perceived affects the way you are treated"

Experts will tell you that your body language communicates 80% of your coaching message. If you throw in voice "tone of voice" you may be able to add another 10%. . If you round off your dress code and posture you will have 100% of body language. With this in mind all you have to do is coach soccer.