Team Management

Organizing the Team

This should be your first priority!


A coach must always come to the field prepared.  Below is a basic list of the minimum equipment you should have with you at practices and games: Your players should bring a soccer ball to every activity and must be wearing shinguards.


You should always come to practice with a plan. Consider what technique you wish to work on and what activities you can use to achieve your goal. A written plan ensures smooth transitions, little down time and that you won’t leave anything out.

Sample Practice Outline
Activities or drills that utilize the skill being taught is the most effective way for players to practice their skills. Attempt to utilize at lease two different activities or drills. This will ensure different types of experiences with the ball and keep the players from getting bored. 

A scrimmage is a friendly game between two halves of your own team. Split your players in half and allow them to play largely uninterrupted. This is the time you should utilize the See, Show, Say technique to determine what you should work on the following week.

You should stop play a couple of times to make technical and tactical points. This is a perfect time to reinforce points about game knowledge. For example, as the ball goes out, remind them about when the ball is and is not in play. A short scrimmage is a good way to end a practice with these age groups. It gives them a chance to utilize the skills and knowledge they are gaining each week.

Warm Up

Keep it short, but do it. Young players must get used to warming up. At this young age, player’s muscles are not developed to a point where injuries will occur often, especially due to a lack of warming up and stretching. It is critical, however, that players be introduced to the concepts in order to prepare them for future competition in the years to come. 

Warm Up the Muscles
Before stretching muscles and other parts, they must be sufficiently warmed up. This requires aerobic activities that get the heart pumping and breathing above a resting rate. Ideally, these activities should include a ball and be related to the technique you will be working on during the activity. Activities should not be speed oriented, but they should cause players to move.

Stretch the Muscles 
After an aerobic warm up, players must stretch their muscles in order to avoid injury. Stretch by slowly and evenly extending each muscle just to the point that the body naturally resists. Movements should be steady and gentle static.

Game Day Basics

This section will provide information on the steps to follow on the days leading up to the big game. Ensuring that your players are prepared and ready to play will ease your mind and keep everything running smoothly.

Game Day:
Check your equipment before you leave home. Make sure you have everything you need.

Before the Game:Youth soccer players learning

  1. Develop a Team Goal.
    “Players having FUN while learning about soccer” is a good base for a team goal. You, the parents and players can build on that foundation.
  2. Develop a Coaching Philosophy. You can base your personal coaching philosophy on the AYSO Coach Pledge (see Appendix C).
  3. Conduct a Parents’ Meeting.
    • Discuss AYSO’s Five Philosophies.
    • Discuss the team’s goal(s).
    • Explain your coaching philosophy.
      • You can begin by explaining short-sided soccer and why we play it.
      • Do not hesitate to share your experience or lack thereof as a coach.
    • Educate parents briefly on the Laws of the Game specific to this age group. Distributing the ABC’s of AYSO (contact your Regional Commissioner for copies) is a great way to introduce new parents to soccer and AYSO.
    • GET HELP – You will need:
      • Assistant Coaches
      • Team Manager: administrative duties such as phone calls, coordinating carpools, etc…
      • Team Parent: develop snack schedule, plan social activities, etc…
    • Set team policies regarding:
      • Equipment brought to practice by each player: water, ball (properly inflated), shinguards, appropriate clothing.
      • Attendance at practices and games.
      • Player and parent behavior. You can discuss expectations of players and parents based on the Player and Parent Pledges (see Appendix C).
    • Player medical release forms
    • A basic first-aid kit
    • Water container (filled with water) and cups
    • Soccer balls
    • An extra pair of shinguards
    • A marking pen for labeling
    • A whistle
    • Warm up & Stretch 10 Minutes
    • Keep it short, but do it. Young players must get used to warming up.
    • Introduce a Technique 15 Minutes
    • Remember to utilize the methods of instruction discussed later in the manual.
    • Skill-Based Activity or Drill 20 Minutes
    • Scrimmage 15 Minutes
    • Remind parents of where and what time your team will meet.
    • Ask parents to have players arrive 30 minutes in advance in order to account for late arrivals and preparation time.
    • Arrive early: at least 10 minutes before the time you expect your players.
    • Gather team: preferably by the playing field; and in the shade if it is hot.
    • Conduct a warm-up
    • Talk: Excite them about getting ready to play.
      • Remind them to have fun and to do their best!
      • Review any important points you may determinen ecessary.
      • A quick reminder of the rules can be most beneficial.

After the Game 

  • Congratulate players on working hard. 
  • Individual kudos are great, but at this age, they must be given to all or none! 
  • Give a reminder of next practice or game (to the parents, not the players).