A Needed Approach: Developing Creative Players

A Needed Approach: Developing Creative Players
by John Dingle

Prior to 1990, the US Men’s National Team had failed for 40 years to qualify for a World Cup. We have qualified for every World Cup since and no one expects this to change in the future. American players are currently playing all over the world and have been accepted by major clubs in Europe and Mexico. Opponents of the national team now respect our US Men’s team. They realize, they can’t expect to win without bringing the ‘A’ game. We are now expected to get out of our group at every world cup and have reached the quarterfinals in 2002. Our style of play is now closer to top soccer countries’ style. We now play out of the back on a regular basis. Goalkeepers pass the ball after saves and on goal kicks. We now attempt to play through defensive lines as opposed to skipping them or player over the lines as our preferred method of attack. When we get the ball wide Continue reading




While watching U7 and U8 games, I became very concerned with the number of coaches who planted a player in front of the goal.  I asked some of the coaches ‘How much fun is this player having?’.   Planting players in front of the goal is not only boring for this player, no development occurs.  At all ages players need to be connected to their team mates.  Lack of connection occurs at all levels of the game. Continue reading

Coaching A Training Session

Coaching A Training Session

Each training (practice) session needs to meet two objectives that lead to player development.  The first goal is to make the session enjoyable.  When players enjoy their soccer training they look forward to coming back, are more likely to practice on their own, and are more likely to watch games when possible.  Continue reading

Excerpt from U8 Coaching Manual-Mission

The following is an excerpt from the Soccer Source 360 Coaching Manual for U7 and U8 coaches.


The mission of the youth soccer coach is to be a role model, teacher of soccer, and facilitator of fun.  This manual addresses each of these areas. Continue reading

Club Coaching Vocabulary

Club Coaching Vocabulary

 Most youth clubs offer soccer to players age 4-19.  Once players reach the soccer age of U9, different levels of play are often offered.  Players move throughout each level throughout their soccer career as well as experience different coaches.  Playing for a different coach benefits the players as they are forced to adapt to differing personalities, coaching methods, as well as communication methods. 

We recommend the use of a common coaching vocabulary throughout each club to allow players to move from one level to another and one coach to another with out having to adapt to different soccer terminology.  Continue reading

Coaching Young Players in a Game

Coaching in a Game

Coaching during the league games is the most difficult challenge you will face.  Your expectation combined with parent and player expectations often conflict with the developmental approach that is needed for players to thrive and play in a risk free environment.  Many of the issues addressed in the Problems of Youth Coaching section are found in game coaching. Continue reading

A Development Approach- Excerpt From U8 Coaching Manual

Developmental Approach

Develop Your Philosophy
The U7 and U8 soccer players appear to be mature soccer players because some of these players have been involved in youth soccer for a few years.  These players are not mature soccer players and can not be treated as such.  A better approach is to treat the players close to the way beginners would be treated.   The approach needed to this age group is that of a teacher.  The coach/teacher needs to make an effort to reach all players on their team.  Winning games can not be at the expense of player development.  Coaches need to develop player’s movement ability, soccer techniques, and game understanding.  Continue reading