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Youth State Soccer Rankings

Here is the key to a happy, successful soccer team.

Effective coaching of youth soccer teams can be daunting to new soccer coaches and even seasoned coaching pros have their moments. It is not an easy task to get a bunch of wild kids to play in harmony without having a nervous breakdown, never mind putting together a winning team.

Take it from me, it is not as difficult to be a winning coach as many folks think. You can have practices that the kids will enjoy and games in which you win most of the time. In my twenty-plus years of coaching youths from ages 5 to 16 in both travel and recreational soccer, my teams have never come in less than second place and most of the time we were the champions and there were no superstars that carried the teams, just regular players just like on your team. I say all this not to boast, I'm not the most skilled coach around, but to illustrate that you, as an adult, can get your kids to win. You don't need superstars. You just need team players and the right method to get them to play together. A well organized team will always outperform a team with merely a superstar or two.

The one strategy that has produced teams of well playing youths involves their self-esteem. My success with soccer kids stems from my one-on-one time with them and treating them like individuals and great achievers. I make each one feel important and explain exactly how he or she contributes to the team. I also let them know that I expect them to make mistakes because that is how you grow and that means that you are trying new and better things.

Sometime throughout our normal practices and then reinforced at every game, I take one of the kids to the side with my arm around their shoulders and say something like, " You know, John, I've been watching you and I think that you are one of the best forwards I have ever seen". And I say a few more words about their abilities and walk him or her back to the others as practice continues. I do this with each player, maybe one per practice or so, so that it is not a noticeable thing.

A very simple thing, but the effects are astounding. I can actually feel the youngsters' confidence rise dramatically as their bodies straighten, their heads are held high, and there is a spring in their step. You can even see an immediate improvement in their performance when they rejoin the practice. One by one these kids get an elevated sense of themselves as good soccer players and that is reflected on the field. As a team, I tell them that they are all winners and my job is to merely put them in the positions where they can do their best. And they do. And when they win, their self-esteem rises even more.

Yes, I know that some of you are thinking that winning isn't everything, but it is something and that is the whole purpose of the game. If you are not playing to win, why play? At the 5 and 6 year old level this does not hold so true, but after that, kids are playing to win and the more they win, each and every kid is part of that achievement and feels a certain pride that helps build their character.

As far as soccer skills training goes, you only need to concentrate on the basics. The kids will pick up little moves here and there as they grow and play against top players. You can find a lot of helpful coaching information online in that regard. One of my favorite sites is where you can also find other soccer resources. There are easy to understand explanations of all that you will need to know and implement.

So, as a soccer coach, your job is to help these kids win soccer games and the best way to do that is to let them know that they are great soccer players and without each and every one of them, the team will not win. When they feel valuable, they become valuable. And you as a coach will have the greatest of times right along with those kids on the field.

Ciao for now,
Bernie Rosellen
"Soccer From The Pitch"

Bernie Rosellen has raised and coached four kids in soccer since they were five years old until they were sixteen. He continues to coach youth soccer today and is an active player on adult soccer teams in the Richmond, VA area. He has been playing soccer for over twenty years and operates a terrific website for soccer fans at He writes articles as “Soccer From The Pitch”.