As the coach of a youth soccer team, it is your job to make sure that your players give their all. It is important to find the best way to motivate your team without putting too much pressure on them, which could have a negative effect. If you have a big match coming up, these points will help your team to be the best it can.
It is easy to get caught up in talking about the opposition, but this may just make your team more anxious. It is likely that parents will have attempted to give their children a pep talk before the match, perhaps meaning that the child will be feeling the pressure when thinking about it themselves, so don’t add to this by adding negativity to the pre-game preparations.
By staying positive, you can help motivate them to do their best whilst staying clear of any negative stress that could affect their performance. Focus on them trying their hardest and reassure them that if they play like they do each week, it will all be fine.
Part of your role is to make sure your team is comfortable, which is why introducing brand new training routines before a match is never a good idea. Stick with an established warm up routine, which will help the team to settle and feel more at ease with the upcoming match. You could include soccer drill videos from resources such as www.sportplan.net/drills/Soccer/drills.jsp in your everyday routine so that they know what to expect on match day.
Children have brilliant imaginations; as a coach, you can teach them to use this in preparation for the next big game. They will no doubt have thought about what could go wrong; however, you can help them to prepare for any eventuality without allowing them to feel anxious about it by using visualisation techniques.
When it is almost time to head to the pitch, ask them to close their eyes and take a minute to calm themselves. You can ask them to think about a particularly positive outcome and share with the team what went well. Some of the team may not feel comfortable sharing, which is fine, but those who share their thoughts may just help to fill the team with positivity before the game begins.