There are lots of similarities between coaching children and coaching adults, but there are also some very big differences that will determine your success in being a kids’ football coach. If you want to succeed, you need to remember that you’re coaching children and they’re at the training session because they want to be and because it’s fun.
Children learn by seeing and doing. They need to see how to behave and learn how to react in often very difficult and frustrating situations. Your job as coach is to show them a positive role model, someone who plays to win but is a good sport when he’s on the losing side. You want to model someone who learns from defeat and sees where improvements can be made but doesn’t dwell too long on the past.
Think about what every part of your communication is saying, not just the words that come out of your mouth; your tone and body language will also speak volumes.
Limits are important because they help children understand where the boundaries are. Be consistent with enforcement and make sure you are not favouring any player in particular. Address all members of the squad positively, even those who aren’t performing well. Children need lots of praise to know they are doing well and to encourage them to continue. Even when a child is not modelling the expected behaviour, he or she should never be criticised in front of others.
Discipline covers more than just behaviour during game time. Think about punctuality and turning up with the right kit ready to play. Having football team kits can help with a sense of belonging and allows children to feel like they’re part of something, which impacts positively on behaviour. If your club does not yet have a kit, consider investing in one from online specialists like Kit King https://www.kitking.co.uk/.
For more information on coaching children, see the advice from the Football Association.
Don’t forget that the most important thing for children is that they get to play. Do not spend too long on the drills or the fun is lost, and that’s what it’s all about when you’re starting out. They want to play with their friends, and they all want a go!