Soccer Advice From A Pro: Youth Coaches – Help Your Succeed Through Confidence
As summer tournament season kicks off, the pressure is on to preform on the soccer field and bring home the trophy! Here is a special article from SoccerToday’s columnist Dan Abrahams on how youth soccer coaches can really make a difference through building mentally strong and confident soccer players. If this approach works for the professional soccer players in EPL, it can work for youth soccer players too!!
A global sport psychologist and author specializing in soccer, Abrahams is based in England and has helped hundreds of soccer players – many of them who play in the English Premier League (EPL) and others professional soccer players who play all across Europe. A recent example of his work includes helping Yannick Bolasie make an enormous impact on the EPL for Crystal Palace. Abrahams has held contracts with QPR, Fulham, and West Ham United among other clubs and works quietly, behind the scenes with many coaches from top clubs across the Atlantic.
Developing Successful Youth Soccer Players:
I am currently writing Soccer Tough 2. In one of my chapters I talk about confidence being a ‘feeling’ – a wave of energy that emanates form the mind and flows through the body. I firmly believe that. I believe confidence is a feeling and I believe that every coach should have the the philosophies, tools and techniques to help players build this energy. Here are some ways to do it.
Help them Feel Understood and Important
Get to know your players. Get to know their needs, wants, doubts, hopes, expectations, personalities, fears, worries and dreams. That kaleidoscope of personal functioning is what makes your job so challenging, so complex! But it is within this complexity that lies satisfaction.
Get to know them and use this information to help you build a relationship with each of them. In many respects they are your family – they are the lifeblood of your professional self.
When you embark on this process you start to help them feel understood. This will help them feel important. Both are linked to loyalty. If you help them feel understood, if you help them feel important they’ll work for you. They’ll play for you. They’ll come with you on your journey towards excellence.
Help them Feel Certainty and Competitive
Give your players certainty – they deserve it. The brain craves certainty and to keep them feeling good you have to feed them chunks of certainty in every session. Let them know what role they will be playing within your squad. Will they be a team member or a squad member – it’s fine to let them know straight away. That kind of certainty helps build a platform for trust, and with trust comes development.
Give them tactical certainty – wishy-washy is the enemy of excellence. Wishy-washy is the enemy of positive result. Repeat and reinforce how you want your team to shape and to play. Drill and drill and drill until they’ve got it. Disguise your pattern and shape play within inventive games if you must, but make sure they get it! Make sure they know!
Put certainty at the heart of your coaching ethos. Shake the can of certainty and spray it.
Help them Feel Better and Great
Be a great soccer salesman. Sell them your coaching package – your ideas, your drills, your techniques, your voice. Give them a vision of the kind of player they can become and blow their minds by introducing them to practice protocols that enhance their play. Help them become better and they’ll love you for it.
Praise them. Help them feel great. No need for over-blown statements or over the top actions. But tell them when they’ve done something good. Tell them what you like about them. Find things to complement them on. Not enough people experience complements – we don’t here ‘good’ and ‘great’ and ‘fantastic’ enough. Give your players the inner luxury that results from powerful words. Help them feel great!
Explore Best and Dream
Repeatedly ask your players about themselves at their best. Ask them what they think it looks like and ask them what they experience inside – the feelings they feel. Ask them about the vision they have for their dream game. What does it look like, and what does it feel like? What runs are they making, what movements do they have, what plays are they creating and what defensive duties to they commit to.
What does your best game look like and what does your dream game look like — these should become regular fixtures in your armory of questions.
Like what you are reading? Dan Abrahams is doing a Pair of Webinars with SoccerToday and Amplified Soccer in advance of the release of is new book, Soccer Tough 2. For professional and youth coaches of all levels and useful for top players. These ideas are designed to be incorporated into coaching cultures for groups of players at every age and every level. Webinar One – Being the Psycho-Social Coach (Now Available On Demand) Webinar Two – Intentional Training: Building Skill and Pressure Proofing Performance (Thursday, May 28, 2015; 12:30pm – 1:30pm Eastern)
Dan Abrahams is a global sport psychologist specializing in soccer. He is based in England and has some of the leading turn-around stories and case studies in English Premier League history.
Abrahams is sought after by players, coaches and managers across Europe and his 2 soccer psychology books are international bestsellers. He is formerly a professional golfer, is Lead Psychologist for England Golf and he holds a degree in psychology and masters degree in sport psychology.