Coaches need practice too

Oct 08, 2013
Tagged with: Coaches need practice too

“Most people get excited about games, but I’ve got to be excited about practice, because that’s my classroom.”
– Pat Summitt

AlexsmI coached youth soccer for five years before I started working with Lakeshore’s Power Soccer team. Every season I had new players or took my old players up an age group. Every year there were new or added challenges that re-shaped how I planned practices. Every year there was a continued evolution to the skills and tactics I was teaching.

The evolution to how I coach Power Soccer has not been quite so obvious. For three years I have seen how tight-knit of a community adapted sports are. Everyone knows everybody else, everyone knows when there is a new player, team or coach.

We are very fortunate to be a part of the Southeastern Power Soccer League where we play teams on a regular basis who are in divisions on par or above us. It is a challenge knowing that some of the teams we play regularly are among the best in the country. However, in a situation like that, it is very easy to become almost complacent as a coach – to say let’s focus on how to beat this player or this team and forget the big picture of how do we grow as a team to make ourselves better?mikealex

When I coached youth sports I had a high turnover rate on players every season. In my third year with Lakeshore, I am coaching six of the original nine players I started with.  This is where coaching can get tricky.  I believe that practice is where players lose interest. Games are the exciting part; the crowd, the cheering, the adrenaline. How do I replicate that kind of intensity in practice? How do I keep practice exciting yet meaningful? How do I change my drills and my approach to ensure the team is always growing?  How do I keep myself from getting in a coaching rut?

Lucky for me, I spend part of every day coaching or teaching new skills and games, and when I am not running an activity I have the chance to observe how others do it.  This is the best learning tool a coach can have. I am able to witness how coaches teach recreational players new skills, how coaches run practices for competitive teams, and how coaches of international teams keep their players, the best players in the world, engaged and constantly striving for improvement.keisha

Before the season started, I evaluated our technical and tactical skills and came up with a list of what we needed to work on to take us to the next level.  Then I looked at the drills I had done with the team over the last two years and the observations I had made watching other coaches in action, and developed a new game plan for the season.

Something I am focusing on this year is making sure that everyone is constantly engaged at practice, not waiting to run a drill. We are running stations during practice for the first time, and taking tactical skills back to basics. If we are working on set-plays, we start with accuracy, then add in a target player, then add in a defender. My goal is to constantly keep my players on their toes, or in this case their wheels.  Four weeks in I think the new plan is working well, but coaching is a continuous learning process, and I am still young in my coaching career, so anyone out there with experience and insight please feel free to share. I would love to hear your stories and what you all have to say.

Remember come join us on November 23-24, 2013 at The Lakeshore Foundation to see the team in action! 

Author: Megan Mindel

  • Fan in Woodstock

    Love these blogs. Keep them coming! Great insight.

  • Megan

    Thank you! I’m glad you have enjoyed reading them!

  • judge

    great read! great work!

  • UB

    Keep up the great work Megan. I like the idea of using stations to fine tune your players skills. It’s also a good way to keep them focused as they move through the different stations. I’m proud of you. Good luck.

  • Megan

    Thank you so much!

  • Megan

    Thanks of reading! I hope the stations are working – they seem to be so far :)