Effective vs Ineffective Coaching

The following post comes from Karl Dewazien, CEO/Internet Clinician at FUN SOCCER Enterprises. Koach Karl is the author and publisher of the world-famous “FUNdamental Soccer” book series, the cornerstone of Youth Soccer practice and Small Sided games. Find out more at www.fundamentalsoccer.com.


We have urged/begged/taught youth coaches for 40+ years to be (vs.) Verbally Silent when the players are in a competitive (vs.) environment. Yet, the ruckus from coaches on the sidelines seems to increase year after year.

It has been scientifically proven that we (humans) have a very difficult time doing Two Things at the same time. For example: Concentrating on the Ebb and Flow of the Game … Listening for instructions … Hearing the instruction … Understanding the instruction … Applying the instruction … Ooops! That’s already more than Two Things Taking Place :)

Ask Yourself … What are the odds of a child wanting or even enjoying playing a computer game if you insisted on giving a running commentary (coaching) the action while the child was attempting to play the game? Or, how proficient would you be at your job if your boss was constantly giving you verbal instructions while you were attempting to finish a task?

What would you think of a baseball coach who yells-out positioning instructions to the center-fielder who is attempting to catch a fly ball? A football coach calling-out specific moves the scrambling quarterback should be making; or, a basketball coach shouting-out the hand to be used for a player in the process of doing a lay-up?

Ineffective Youth Coaches actually need to give play/by/play instructions during the game because of their inability to run proper training sessions. They are ‘drill masters’ with no theme and are satisfied with just keeping the players active. They justify their worth by making a comment after every single mistake made in practice. They…

  • Control the Practice by = Being Verbally Active – Constant Advice.

  • Control the Game by = Being Verbally Active – Constant Instructions.

Effective Youth Coaches, on the other hand, have no need to give play/by/play instructions during the game because they are able to run proper training sessions. They are ‘game masters’ with a THEME and are not satisfied unless their players are learning something that can be applied in the next game. They justify their worth by studying and applying rules and regulations during the 1 vs.1; Small-Sided and Scrimmage Games which enforce learning the theme of the practice.

They …

  • Teach during Practice by = Being Verbally Active - Commenting only during the (+) cooperative portions and only on the practice Theme.

  • Test at Game by = Observing & Taking Notes on Theme’s Progress.

Effective youth coaches realize that they need to observe and help only those players who need help in their process of learning to play the game of soccer. Your dictionary will tell you that, “Children are young persons of either sex and at any age less than maturity; persons in the process of developing both physically and mentally.”

This means that… CHILDREN ARE LEARNERS and we need to teach them to create their own playing environment. That is we need to teach in a manner so that they can learn to ‘love to play soccer’ on their own.


CHILDREN LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES they learn from errors made – if the coaching is done correctly both verbally and physically. It is crucial that coaches turn player errors into a positive learning situation. The player’s self-confidence should not be affected by mistakes that are made when playing soccer.

Please save the ‘play/by/play’ or any kind of coaching for your Practice Sessions and allow the children to just ‘PLAY’ on Game Day.

Final Note: Thank you for taking the time to read this article and Sharing it with your soccer community.

Your FUNdamental,

Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)

·        Emeritus Director of Coaching - California Youth Soccer Assoc. (1979-2012)

·        Author - Internationally Published FUNdamental SOCCER Books Series

·        Producer - highly acclaimed ‘9-Step Practice Routine’ DVD.

·        Clinician at: www.fundamentalsoccer.com