The Role of Being a Youth Soccer Coach

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Youth Soccer News: The Importance, Role and Responsibility of Being a Coach, Part 4

In a continuing series on the role of a youth soccer coach, SoccerNation talks with top coaches about this important position. Youth soccer coaches have great influence over their players, and the best ones take that very seriously. This time The Role of Being a Coach talks to Steve Hoffman, Cal South Director of Coaching Education and Player Development, and Wayne Harrison, former Academy Director at Blackpool Football Club in England and Al Ain in the UAR and currently a coach with CV Manchester Soccer Club.

SNN: What does being a coach mean to you?

Wayne Harrison: After playing soccer professionally, I knew looking back what I needed in order to be better as a player.  I wanted to teach others what I felt I needed as a player to be successful.

It is important always to continue learning as a coach. You can never know everything and you must be open to new ideas and through this you continue to further educate and improve yourself.

SNN: What is the importance of being a soccer coach?

Wayne Harrison: I think it is important that you teach young players the importance of the team. Players need to be encouraged to be unselfish in their play.

Also, as a coach, you cannot please everyone all of the time, and so players (and parents) can experience highs and lows in the process. This is a life learning experience where we learn that we cannot have everything we want all of the time. They need to be able to cope with the disappointments that come their way.

SNN: What is the responsibility of a coach?

Wayne Harrison, former Academy Director at Blackpool Football Club and Al Ain and now coach with Manchester Soccer Club.
Wayne Harrison: Coaches are trusted people who have a massive responsibility – to their players, to the game and to their peers. I read somewhere that a coach (and a teacher, which is essentially what we are) is second only to a parent in how they can influence a child. When you think of all the time that we spend with them, I do believe that.

I take this responsibility seriously and try to pass on a positive attitude to every player I train. I try to add praise as much as I can to improve their self esteem. I don’t focus on mistakes; I focus on what they did well, and I think that is vitally important. Too many coaches focus on the negatives, which can destroy the confidence of the player and ruin the fun of the game.

Constructive criticism is the key, and it must be well-timed and specific to the age and gender of the player.

SNN: Do you have any last thoughts about coaching?

Wayne Harrison: Just that I love my job, I love to educate and I love soccer. It is my life and second only to my family.