There are several qualities required to be a top coach. You must first find and acknowledge your niche. Are you better with girls or boys, younger or older, beginners or advanced players? They all require different personality traits, but a significant amount of knowledge if you want to be successful.
There are specific characteristics attached to age groups and genders. You must familiarize yourself with them if you wish to be an effective teacher of the game. If you are serious about your craft you will find time to acquire your coaching license through the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) or the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). This will help you with the organization of your practice sessions. It will teach you what players of certain age groups should be learning, as well as how to teach it.
This is just the beginning. The acquisition of a coaching license does not make you a good coach. There are many bad drivers with a valid drivers license. There are many certified teachers, who cannot teach. You still have so much to learn through experience and observation of those who have been coaching longer than you. There will be good days and bad, but you must learn from them.
You are in the business of developing players, so you must do your homework. Do not show up to practice unprepared. It helps to have a practice session in writing, but have a back up plan. What you have in mind may not materialize, because of attendance, mood of players, field space or equipment issues.
The coaching style you adopt can have an impact on your players. This can be good or bad. There are three distinct types of coaches. The first is driven by his/her ego. Everything revolves around him/her. They spend a great deal of time talking to/lecturing players. The players play out of fear of consequence, as opposed to freedom of expression or guided discovery. This coach takes a loss personally and is not receptive to criticism from other qualified coaches. This coach is a dictator
Then there is the complete opposite. The facilitator. No discipline, limited or no quality instruction, and the players run the practice. This coach is a buddy to the players, so by the end of practice nothing has been learned.
The third type is the coach we all want coaching our players. He/she is very knowledgeable and earns the respect of the players through quality instruction and demonstration. He/she understands that the game is player-centric, so sessions are designed to foster creativity, imagination and game intelligence. Interjection is limited, but relevant. Players are engaged from start to finish. He/she is firm but fair. The players enjoy practice, and play with a heightened level of enthusiasm.
The most difficult thing to do is probably the most important to becoming a good coach. The ability to critique yourself or have someone else critique your practice is key. Ask yourself the following questions; did I have a plan? Was there a flow to the practice? Did the players sustain the required level of interest and enthusiasm? Did my mood hinder or enhance the practice environment? Did I have a positive impact on the soccer behavior of my players? Training yourself to be a better soccer coach includes answering the hard questions.
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