I love playing soccer and for years I wanted to coach, but I’d long lost sight of the dream when my brother asked me to coach the peewees this year. I don’t personally feel I have the patience, mutli-tasking skills, or reflexes that would be ideal in a pee wee coach. However, in my few weeks of coaching experience, I have had a few thoughts on coaching pee wee soccer.
Coaching Pee Wee Soccer
Expect a maturity gap
Our peewees are 4-6, which seems like a reasonable range, but I’ve found in practice that the youngest kids have a far, far shorter attention span and have not learned as much about taking directions. I put them in positions where they can run a lot!
Don’t underestimate the pee wee soccer player
Lots of pee wee soccer teams don’t play positions, but so far, we’ve had decent luck with teaching our kids positions. In the end, if they can play positions, everyone gets more contact with the ball. They can learn just about anything, really! If I don’t teach them a corner kick, it’s usually because I don’t remember when to do it, not because they can’t!
Don’t be ashamed of low expectations
On the other hand, if all you teach your peewees is to stay inside the white lines of the field and not to touch the ball with their hands, that’s ok, too. That maturity gap comes in here–for the littlest guys, this is great progress. A six-year-old who’s been playing a couple of years will likely want and be ready for more. Still, if they have to wait one more year to get it when they move up a level, it won’t kill them! I just sort of keep a high and low level of skill in my mind and try to get them somewhere, anywhere, within that range.
Have a strong backbone
Our positions were going so, so well last week. Then I heard a parent yell, “That’s why you don’t do positions with peewees!” I couldn’t figure out what was why. I thought it was going great. I heard some other sideline talk from someone who “expected more” from our coaching. When you’re struggling to do a job that you didn’t particularly want and don’t feel well suited to, this is very discouraging. There’s nothing to do except swallow your pride and complete the season. That is, you can get into a fist fight with a parent, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
The more eyes you have on those peewees, especially if you have a big team (we have 18-20), the better! There’s one pair of four year olds that I keep losing track of only to find that they are rolling on the ground in a wrestling match.
All those kids want to do is play soccer. They aren’t interested in drills, and who can blame them? We do warm-ups and a few drills and then a scrimmage at every practice. I’m finding that teaching while playing is great. We add new skills as necessary in a context that makes sense to kids with little experience. They don’t really understand the purpose of the drills, even when explained, and they spend that first part of practice begging to “play soccer.”
Love the pee wee kids!
Having a good rapport with the kids is what makes it worth it and fun. Learn their names, learn their special skills, laugh at their jokes, be silly with them. If you do that, I think you’ll make it through the season, though it’s too soon to tell for me!
Do you have tips for coaching pee wee soccer? Please share, let’s all learn from each other.