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When Wayne Rooney was sent off in the 2006 World Cup against Portugal for his groin kick to Portugal’s Ricardo Carvalho, few would have thought it was possible for Rooney and club teammate Cristano Ronaldo to ever exist on the same pitch, let alone the same club team.  How would Ronaldo, who winked at the Portugal bench after confronting the referee for Rooney’s challenge, be able to regain peace with Rooney for the start of a new Premiership campaign for Manchester United?

As a young soccer coach who is starting out his coaching career, the most important aspect of coaching for me is that I am always learning new things:  new ways to run a training session, new ways to analyze a match, and new ways to make the game of soccer better for my players.  I have had the pleasure of playing both under many great soccer coaches and under some coaches that left a lot to be desired.  Not only did I become a better player under these coaches, but I also learned different things that I liked and did not like about their style of coaching.

From my experiences as a youth soccer coach and a college assistant coach, one of the most important aspects is ego management of your players.  By ego management, I mean the ability of a coach to handle the many different types of egos and personalities that exist on a team.  From the stubborn star to the quiet role player, each player you deal with will respond to you in a different way.

Sir Alex Ferguson, who is the manager of Manchester United, was putting ego management into practice when he dealt with regaining the peace between Rooney and Ronaldo.  The mere fact that Ferguson was able to get Rooney and Ronaldo to perform on the same team says a great deal about Ferguson’s ability as a manager.  What is even more remarkable about the whole situation is that Manchester United is on the verge of winning the English Premiership due to the outstanding performances of Rooney and Ronaldo.

Today’s generation of player, unlike the player of a decade or two ago, is driven by so many external sources.  Go to any youth soccer game and you will hear the screaming and yelling of parents on the sidelines.  Youth soccer players are playing more games at an earlier age with the pressure of winning being emphasized at an earlier age too.  Youth soccer players are heavily influenced by a generation of parents who are living through their kids.  Taking into account all of these factors, coaches are dealing with a new generation of soccer player.

The new generation of soccer player responds to a more personable coach.  Soccer players are human beings.  As humans, we experience a wide array of feelings and emotions.  As a coach of the new generation of soccer players, I try to understand the power of feelings and of being a positive role model for my soccer players.  I try to instill the virtues of leadership, honesty, hard work, and discipline.  By creating a positive atmosphere with my players, I find that they are better able to respond to me, to buy into what it is that I want to do with them as team.  Once you are able to get to your players and develop a good positive relationship with them, they will do what it is that you want them to do.

In addition to this, soccer coaches must learn how to deal with the different types of egos on the team.  How does a coach deal with a stubborn star player who has trouble showing up to off-season weight session?  How does a coach deal with the quiet role player who is short on confidence?  Each situation is different but by following your coaching philosophy, coaches will be better prepared to deal with these situations.

I believe that it is important that youth soccer coaches should strive to make better soccer players, but more importantly better people.  Most of the players that I will coach may not become professional soccer players, but hopefully through my example they will be able to be successful in all aspects of life.

So for all of the youth soccer coaches out there, remember that what you say and how you act has a tremendous influence on your soccer players.  Keeping this in mind, create a positive environment for your players, get in touch with each of your players’ emotions, and show them how much you care for them.
 Until next time…happy coaching!


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