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AYSO Region 153 Tucson, Arizona


Losing Team
Strategies to Challenge Your  Players More

If you are coaching a weak team then you really have to work hard as coach. My first year coaching was with a team that didn't win a game, and only scored one goal. And it was a lot of work. But by the end of the season we played some close games, and many of the kids kept on playing all the way through high school.

Focus on specific things when you are getting beaten every week. The first thing for you to realize is that your job as a coach is not to have a winning record. Your job is to improve the childrens' soccer skills over the course of a season while having a fun time.

So, you may have to focus on very basic skills. If your team is losing, it's quite likely that the skills of the players need work, so you should focus on the basics of passing, dribbling, shooting, trapping, and defending, appropriate to your division.  Be sure the players are using their training ball for extra touches outside of your formal training sessions.

Focus your players on winning by progress, rather than goals. Let the players know that you aren't tracking the score in the game, but that you will be counting how many times they pass the ball successfuly. You can reward them if they achieve a milestone. i.e. "I'll take you guys for a slurpie after the next game if we can make 5 consecutive passes". (Vary this by the skill of the players and how much you can afford to lose). If you set them a realistic target, then they will focus on earning the slurpie and not the score of the game.

You can also look at each quarter of a game as a separate event. This is most useful when the team falls behind by three goals in the first quarter. Some players (and parents) will figure that the game is lost, so why bother trying any more. Set the kids the goal of winning or tieing the next quarter. This is often an attainable goal, and you may have some success telling the kids that they won a quarter of a game this week. In combination with the opposing team implementing a strategy from the green column on the left of this page, the winning or tying of the next quarter becomes realistic.

Focus on Positive Elements: Even while losing there are opportunities to praise players for personal effort and teamwork. Just because a personal effort or teamwork did not result in a goal doesn't mean it is not noteworthy.

Mix the team up: Sometimes the hardest aspect of losing in a blowout is keeping the players engaged. Mix them up on the field more than you usually would. Encourage them to try new ideas. Try to find ways to keep their attention and engagement on playing to get a goal.

Ask the team for ideas, during the game: Ask the team for ideas on where you saw a specific play go wrong, or the opponent make a specific play go well. "What could we have done differently that would help?" Getting the players thinking about specific plays can be engaging and instructional.

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Region 153

120 S Houghton, 138
Tucson, Arizona 85748

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