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       Greater Bethlehem Soccer League

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        Division One Coaching Message


  1. Coaching philosophy 
  2. You should really spend a little time thinking this through. At one point I was considering recommending that coaches write out a mission statement and make it available to parents – but this seemed a little too much like work. GBSL is an instructional league. Our goal is to provide a healthy, safe and fun-filled environment where ALL children can learn to play and love the game of soccer. As a coach it’s easy to focus on your most gifted players – they’re your game winners. You’ve got to decide how you’re going to relate to the least gifted of the group. How much time and encouragement will they receive and where will you position them when the game’s on the line? This is easy in division 1, our least "competitive" area. However, the question will become more problematic as you move up with your children.

  3. Proper hydration 
  4. This is extremely important for our youngest players. Dehydration causes headaches, cramping and sluggishness and sucks all the fun out of life. Small kids are more susceptible because of their lower body weights and the "bop ‘till you drop" way they approach life. Encourage all your parents to bring water bottles. Recommend that they actually fill them with WATER. Sport drinks are okay, but in my opinion they’re not worth the price. During especially hot periods, some parents have been known to freeze the water bottles. The kids love drinking as it melts and the water stays colder this way. One drawback – sometimes it doesn’t melt fast enough. Please avoid any type of sugary drink. Sugar causes drinks to stay in the stomach longer, which slows the re-hydration process and causes the children to feel bloated and sick.  You should break often for water. Rules of thumb – if one child asks for water, they all need it. If you’re confused about what activity to do next, they need a water break. If you’re thirsty, they’re thirsty.  As a coach, I always tried to bring a very large water container. This way you can refill empty bottles and provide water to children whose parents' rush out leaving theirs at home.

  5. Equipment
#3 soccer ball. These smaller, lighter balls are easier on the children’s knees and a lot more fun. The adult size #5’s are just too big for a 5-year-old to kick through on those rare occasions when they try to pass. If one of your players shows up with the larger ball just explain the difference to the parent and hope for the best. If he insists on using it there’s not much you can do – just don’t let him use it in shared activities with other players.
If a parent asks for advice on selecting a ball, recommend the softer, hand-stitched balls with a bladder. They’re a little more expensive than the plastic balls but they’re also a lot easier on the foot when the weather turns cold.
Clothing – the league provides jerseys. However, these jerseys are not to go home with the children (We lose too many this way). Please collect them at the end of each session. Some coaches launder them themselves, others recruit parent volunteers. If your send them home with a parent, please make sure they plan to return the following week – especially if the next week is picture day.
Foot ware – Sneakers are fine, spikes are better. The common denominator here is shoes that tie. We’ve had children show up in sandals and slip-on sneakers. The sandals should be discouraged aggressively, especially if other players are wearing spikes. The slip-ons fly off with every hard kick.
Shin guards are a must. A child can not play or even practice if he doesn’t have them. In past years I’ve seen children playing with exposed plastic guards strapped to their shins. In these cases you can let the child play but next week he must have the guard completely covered with a soccer sock. The exposed guards often turn or come off and could become tangled with other equipment as the players cluster around the ball.
  1. Safety Issues
NO SLIDE TACKLING – Please keep your players on their feet. When they go to the ground there’s a good chance they’ll get kicked in the face. Also, they’ll learn more on their feet then they will on their butts. If a player ignores repeated warnings, remove him from the game and have a coach or parent talk to him.
NO HEADING – This is a controversial issue in soccer today. Most old-line coaches will say millions of kids around the world are heading the ball with no adverse effect. We don’t care. At this age children can’t use the skill effectively anyway – so why spend time teaching it.
Jewelry – Have the children remove any chains, watches, bracelets, dangling earrings or anything that you consider a safety hazard.
Dangerous or overly aggressive play is forbidden. The most common form of dangerous play is when a child slips to the ground but continues to kick at the ball. When this occurs, play should be stopped immediately and the ball is then awarded to the other team.
  1. Coaching Aids  
  2. There are tons of books and tapes on the market designed to help rookie coaches like us. The league has a limited number of books but I recommend you check out a place like Soccer Magic in Easton. They can steer you toward something appropriate.

  3. Coaching Equipment
Hand pump, the compact variety. They cost about $10 and are extremely helpful on those days when half your team shows up with soft balls.
Sticky name tags for the first few sessions.
Whistle, clipboard, cones and a few extra balls - Provided by the league.
Dress to run with the kids – your good example is your best teaching tool.
Goals – for Division One the league provides Pugg Pop-Up-Goals. Your Commissioner will distribute them each week and you will drop them make off at the trailer after each session (where we pass out the free Cokes).
Your smile - For many of your players this will be their first soccer experience. They won’t understand even the basics of the game, like which direction to run and more than a few are going to score on their own goals. Your positive encouragement/attention is the way they’ll gauge how well they’re doing. Please a special effort to say something nice to each child at each session. Kids sometimes have a difficult time recognizing their own significant improvement.
  1. Games for 5, 6 and 7-year old kids
  2. Younger children like games such as Freeze Tag, Ball Burglar and Capture. There are literally thousands of games you can use as teaching aids. I suggest you consult some soccer books or some knowledgeable friends and keep your eyes open during practice sessions. You’ll find tons of things you can use. When you find a game/drill your kids like, write it out on an index card along with some possible variations and keep it with your coaching stuff. During practices, when you run out of ideas, just pull out your stash of cards and rediscover a golden oldie.

  3. Always Keep Them Moving

Children at this level DON’T DO LINES. If you have too many kids for the game you’ve planned, break them into groups. If you’re short on coaching help, draft a parent (By the way, parents are required to stay with their children at this level, so you should have a good pool of helpers). When you see the little critters getting bored, move on to a new game. After the first or second session you should have a fairly good idea of how long they’ll tolerate a drill. One year, I saw a coach insist his children dribble around cones until they get it right – they never did. If something’s not working, move on. In this particular case, they just kept getting worse until everyone was absolutely miserable. TIP – You can coach a lifetime without ever resorting to having your kids weaving in and out of cones. If you do use this type of drill, add variation. Turn it into an obstacle course or a miniature golf course. If you can make them giggle you’ve captured their hearts.