When coaching soccer there are plenty of different aspects of the game to factor in. Soccer is a game where skill takes a very central role, but there are plenty of techniques to master, as well as knowing what to do when confronted with a decision.
Kicking, heading, passing and dribbling the ball are all techniques to begin with – things that will ultimately tell you plenty about how to focus on each player. How well can each player perform these areas of the game will help you to establish your lineup and coach accordingly.
While it is very important for your players to be capable of kicking great crosses on offense or be able to clear any balls from the box on the defensive side, there is one aspect of soccer that stands above all else: conditioning.
When stripped down to its core, soccer is essentially all about running – running towards the net on a mission to score, or chasing down an opponent looking to do the same. Pro players run more than a few miles per game – and have the strength to compete until the 90th minute.
Getting your players to understand the importance of conditioning (and maintaining it as well) is the first step to building and coaching a solid soccer club.
Another important part of the game for a coach to zero in on is knowing which players operate best at certain positions. Take midfielders for example. Sure some get all the glory such as Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, but the importance of that position isn’t only scoring goals – it’s being a force on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
If you as a coach see a player has a superb knack for putting the ball in the net, but seems to drift back to help out on defense – either he belongs on the bench, or with a more full-time focus on scoring as a striker.
The same thing can be said about defenders – their primary focus is keeping the ball away from the keeper and the net, but then again, when your team is pressing, you don’t want it to be 5 of your front-end guys against the entire other team’s 11 men. You need everyone pulling their weight on both ends of the field.
If a coach can break down and evaluate the skills, conditioning and positional attributes of his players, he will have a much easier time putting together the very best field on the team of his roster of players. That also means that the players will work well within that system.
Focusing on working on your players’ strengths and stressing their attention on conditioning is key, and knowing just how each of your players operates on the pitch is the next step. Get all that down, and you’re ready to kick off.