During the course of my soccer career, I have read dozens of books on coaching soccer. While I have found some to be truly helpful, the vast majority of them have not been useful in the least.
I don’t want to turn this article into a book review, but I do want to give you some pointers to look for as you are sifting through the enormous numbers of titles that are available for purchase.
One of the most common types of books that coaches look for is a drill book. While there is not anything wrong with this in general, it is critical that you understand that having a big book of drills does not make you a good soccer coach.
Less is more when it comes to coaching. It is better that you have a few quality activities than 101 different drills that you regurgitate all over the practice field.
That said drill books are a wonderful place to find inspiration and new ideas. Here are a couple of key questions to ask when purchasing a drill book:
Question #1 – Does the book break down drills by recommended age?
One major pitfall that coaches (especially new ones) encounter is choosing soccer drills that are not age appropriate. It can be very frustrating for your players to be constantly put into drills that are too complex for them to understand, or too difficult for them to execute. Conversely, activities that don’t challenge your players are just as boring.
Understanding the characteristics of your players will help you a great deal with drill selection. Younger players should all have a ball at their feet the majority of the time. Moving quickly from activity to activity with short breaks in between is highly recommended. With older players, sharing a ball is appropriate. They can focus for longer periods of time, so you may use fewer activities in your sessions.
Question #2 – Does the book utilize session building principles?
You should be structuring your soccer practices to move from fundamentals to more soccer related games and activities. With young players you should be working on technical skills each practice. The game-related activities that you use in later phases of the practice should complement these skills.
For example, begin practice with passing/receiving drills, and then move into 3v1 in a grid, or a possession game. Look for soccer coaching books that implement full sessions, and not just a library of drills.
Question #3 – Does the book provide coaching points for each soccer drill?
Every drill that you run in your soccer practice should have a very specific theme and goal. A good soccer coaching book should detail the goals of each drill and provide you with coaching points for your sessions.
Be sure to stick with coaching points that address the theme of your practice. If you are working on creating angles of support with your team, now is not the time to stop your session and discuss improper dribbling technique.
You can always pull a player to the side if there is a major issue, but as far as addressing the team is concerned, stay on theme!