- Kids love playing games and keeping score. In practice, try to use Practice Games and not drills. (Click this link to try our 10 free Practice Games)
Everyone should stay active and participate. Avoid lines. Maximize "touches" on the ball. At least 500 touches per practice for each player. Teach proper technique and use games that practice skills or simulate play or "match conditions". Our Practice Games are much better than drills because they involve competition and pressure (which drills don't) and better prepare players to perform under pressure in "match" conditions and at "game speed". It is one thing to perform an activity without pressure, but it is very different to perform the same activity at "game speed" and under pressure. Players improve more quickly and become better players when they practice at game speed in match-related conditions. Run games by keeping time (e.g., so they last 1, 3, or 5 minutes) or by keeping score (e.g., first to 3, 12, etc.). We recommend you by an inexpensive sports watch that has a count-down timer (about $25 at Wal-Mart or Target). Praise hustle, improvement and a good attitude. Measure each player's performance by his or her personal improvement and effort, and not by comparing them to someone else. Try to motivate in a positive way that builds self-esteem. A good Practice Game must be easy and quick to set up by one coach and should be simple to explain and manage. If you are spending too much time on set up or instruction, simplify it. You should be able to play the game in a small area and without special equipment, except for cones or "disk cones". This is important so you can achieve more in your practices and not waste time. Think about the benefit of being able to achieve 20% or 30% more in each practice. If it's not fun, it's not a good Practice Game. You MUST have at least one ball per player. This is absolutely critical. Ask players to bring extra balls or buy some. DON'T use practice games that eliminate or "knock-out" players. For Recreational players, we believe in positive motivation and we don't believe in punishing a child who has tried their best but lost a practice game. Our Practice Games don't make the losers leave the game or run laps. Nor do we use knock-out or elimination games that leave the players who need the most practice on the sideline. From a practical perspective, punishing players slows down practice and elimination games don't produce as many touches on the ball. Avoid general scrimmaging for more than 10 minutes per hour. In general scrimmages players don't get enough touches on the ball, the weaker players tend to get the fewest touches and bad habits can be reinforced because players tend to do the same things they have always done. If you scrimmage, do so without a goalkeeper and encourage players to work the ball close to the goal before shooting. (Click here for the "Small Sided Scrimmage Without A Goalkeeper" Practice Game). Adopt this philosophy: Keep it simple, keep them active, keep it fun & at least 500 touches per player per practice".
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