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tkelley

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Reply with quote  #1 
So Im new around here, and relatively new to coaching. I guess I should drop a bit of background.

I only played soccer for a couple years in 8th, and 9th grade for a club team. That was 30 years ago. Now I help run our community youth soccer program, and have been coaching U12 rec soccer for about 5 years. (All co-ed teams.) For a while I even had a U10 rec team that I coached as well. I got started while my daughter was still playing, and I enjoyed it so much I just kept doing it, and trying to expand my knowledge so I could become a better coach.
  This spring, my daughters Varsity coach came to us and asked us if we would start a Girls travel team to compete in a regional bracket. The thought is that we would help feed the high school program which has been struggling for numbers. Our youth program covers two very small communities, so It was quite a challenge to get a roster of girls to play. We are in a u15 division, and my girls range from 11-14. (this is the same for most of the teams in our bracket.)
  So the issue Ive been having all season is practice attendance, and getting the girls to keep their head in the practice long enough to learn something. My roster is 14, and I probably average 8 girls at practice. I try to not spend too much time lecturing, and try to limit my drills to about 10 minutes, and I still lose half of them. Its been a pretty tough season with no wins. No double digit blowouts, but tough none the less. They have improved overall, and the girls that show up to practice to work, and not gossip have improved 200%.
  Finally to my question. How can I increase practice attendance? Do I use a points system for attendance with some sort of repercussion for not attending practices on a regular basis? I'm just kind of at a loss. I don't think we exactly have a brutal practice schedule (two days a week, two hour sessions).
 The plan going forward for our spring season is to make clear to all player and parents what our expectations are as far as attendance. Though ultimately we will have no real say obviously.

Just looking for some insight as to how some others are handling these issues.
TK
mbiyenm

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Reply with quote  #2 
I doubt a point system will improve attendance since it is an external motivation. Another idea is to use parental pressure: give some refund for those whose kids attend 50% of more of practices. 

There are countless reasons people don't attend.  Ask your daughter or the ones who attend why their friends are not interested maybe they'll be willing to them the truth.  You could try recruiting 22 players on the roster so maybe 11 will attend.  You could also try co-ed practices.

Good Luck!
BobC

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Reply with quote  #3 

First, welcome to the forum.

The practice attendance thing is not an easy issue to address. As Mbiye says there could be many reasons why the attendance isn't better, and his idea of asking the girls why they think some of them are not attending regularly is a good idea.

In general, my approach is to make practice as fun and engaging as possible. The idea is to make the girls want to come to practice. In my parents meeting I explain this to them by telling them I'm using these basics:

    • Interesting, fun, high-energy drills and games; everybody involved

    • Variety of material.

    • The “3 No-L’s” - No standing in lines, No running laps, No lectures

During technical warm-up everybody has a ball. I bring my own, I do not depend on the players for practice equipment. I bring one ball, properly inflated, for each player on my team, showing that I am expecting all of them to show up.

Design all practice activities so that everybody is involved at the same time, without having to stand in a line. Here is a good one to use during warm-up
Players in groups of three, if one leftover make one group of four. If two left over, either make two groups of four or coach fill in. Two players start with the ball, third player faces 10 yards apart. Two-touch passing. A passes to B, the runs behind B. B receives with first touch, passes to C with second touch, runs behind C. Play is continuous. You can then use numerous variations, and change it up from one practice to the next. Variations such as

  • One-touch passing
  • Throw-in, trap & pass
  • Short-short-long, B in the middle, A plays to B, B plays back, A passes to C at the other end, A & B switch places; repeat.
  • Wall passes, B starts as wall, A passes to B and runs, B return passes into A's path, A dribbles to wall position for C and plays to C. C passes to A, A wall passes back to C, etc.
This warm-up activity alone has a good aerobic aspect to it as well as a solid technical benefit. Build from there around your theme for that practice with 2-3 skill-building activities, then end with a scrimmage. Either through coaching points or with conditions (or both) have the scrimmage emphasize the skills worked on right before.

If you're looking for skill-building activities that are fun, high-energy and have a good technical benefit I have some I can pass on.

You want the girls to feel like practice is both fun and they're learning, and you want the parents to get the idea that the time they are taking to bring them to practice is worth their daughter's while. Bottom line, keep them moving, involved, engaged, having fun and feeling like they're improving. This is your best bet for having good practice attendance.

 

 


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tkelley

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thank you for the input! Any activities you could provide would be most helpful. Only two practices left, but it will give me a chance to try something new.

Tony
BobC

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Reply with quote  #5 

Here's a good game to try. This is a fun, high-energy game that will give you a chance to see players both dribbling and defending, so it serves as a great tool for evaluating where players are at in these areas.

"Zone Dribbling Game"
Setup: Mark a 45x20 yard grid with disc cones. Divide the grid with different color disc cones (if available), making 2 lines connecting the long sides 15 yards from each end. The grid should now consist of 3 15 x 20 zones. Divide players into 2 teams, each team wearing a different color. All players on team 1 are attackers and have a ball. All players on team 2 are defenders. If there are more than six players on the defending team, assign six of them as defenders and switch the remaining players to the attacking team. To start the game 3 attackers stand along one end facing the grid. All remaining attackers stand behind them (there will be 3 lines when play begins, but the lines will disappear once play starts). 3 defenders are placed in the zone closest to the attackers, 2 defenders in the center zone and 1 defender in the last zone (if the defender in the last zone isn't getting much action, switch them with another defender after a couple of minutes).

Play: On the coach’s signal the 3 attackers dribble into the first zone, attempting to dribble through all three zones and over the other end of the grid. Defenders in each zone attempt to dispossess the dribblers and kick their ball out of the grid. Defenders may not leave their zone; if an attacker gets through their zone, they have to let them go. When an attacker’s ball is kicked out of the grid they must retrieve their ball quickly and get behind to the beginning point to await their next turn (typically they will go again right away). A "goal" is scored when an attacker dribbles the ball over the opposite end of the grid with the ball under their control no more than 1 yard away (no kicking it across). After the last of the 3 attackers scores or has their ball kicked out of the grid, give a signal for the next 3 attackers to begin. Previous attackers must hustle, quickly get their ball and return to the beginning to form the next wave of 3. Teams switch roles after 10 minutes.

Coaching Points:

Dribblers: encourage close ball control, fakes & step-overs, quick decision-making. Don't just go straight ahead and kick it into the legs of the defender.

Defenders: encourage players to get low, angle their stance and move their feet to stay in front of attackers. Be patient and wait for attacker to expose the ball; don’t lunge at the ball! If a single attacker gets into the second zone, the two defenders in that zone should work together to stop them (pressure/cover).


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When a flower doesn't bloom, fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower

tkelley

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Reply with quote  #6 
Those worked great thank you. I think the girls took quite a bit away from it.

TK
BobC

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Reply with quote  #7 
That's great Tony, glad it helped. That Zone Dribbling game is one of my girls' favorite practice activities, mostly because they just love going at each other [smile]
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When a flower doesn't bloom, fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower

Oldtimer

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Reply with quote  #8 
Let me guess that the rather large age range, short roster and shorter practice attendance make for some long Saturdays.

Its will help if the players can get together and agree on some goals.  Their future with a HS team is probably too distant to be a motivator for some, but I'd be willing to bet that they could devise a number of specific and measurable goals tied to effort and improvement.

It's also important to build recognition of the dual commitment tied to being part of the team.  This was summed up by World Champion Tracey Bates Leone: "You owe it to yourself and to tour teammates to do everything you can and give everything you have toward the goal of 'being the best'."

That, too, will take a while, but it does set the table for discussions about how neither commitment can be fulfilled if you're not there.

And I'd never let a player who missed practice start that week's game ahead of a player who'd always been there.


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"Winning is important. The lessons learned by winning and losing in sports last a lifetime. However, the goal of every youth coach should be to help young soccer players understand and enjoy the process of participation and to teach the skill necessary to succeed. When the pressure to win begins too early, the passion and the love for the game can be lost." - Jay Martin, editor, NSCAA Soccer Journal
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