Drills for soccer coaches

What do you do if you’re a volunteer youth soccer coach and you show up at practice straight from work? Do you remember the detailed training curriculum your league provided? Do you have time now to review it? Probably not. Can you pull something up on your phone while 10 energetic kids bounce from one foot to another looking at you? Doubtful.

That’s why you need a CoachDeck. Pull out your deck of fifty-two fundamental drills that can all be made into fun games kids love broken into four color-coded categories, (dribbling, passing, shooting, defense), and in less than a minute you have terrific practice plan that is sure to be a hit!

52 Drills in a Deck of Cards

Tired of trying to pull up coaching drills on your phone or at work when you remember you have practice starting in a half hour? Nothing is more convenient than having a handy deck of cards with 52 drills broken into four color-coded categories. Volunteer baseball, softball, soccer, football and basketball coaches all over North America have been relying on our fun and easy-to-use product for years. You can too!

January OnDeck Newsletter one week out

Can you believe we’re beginning our eleventh year of our OnDeck Newsletter? Our January edition is going to be a blockbuster. It goes out a week from today and you can subscribe here to have it delivered to your inbox, free!

Ten Years – What We’ve Learned

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

The release of today’s issue of OnDeck marks the anniversary, almost to the day, of our CoachDeck launch ten years ago. When that very first, small batch of decks came from the manufacturer we didn’t know if we’d still be sitting here ten years later looking at them in our warehouse. But then we started sending them out to youth leagues around the country and right away we knew we were on to something.

The feedback we received was 100% positive, overwhelmingly so. We immediately got to work on our soccer title, followed by basketball, softball and football. Now, as we head toward a milestone of over four thousand youth leagues using our products we look back on some of the things we’ve learned and changes we’ve seen.

First, the reported demise of youth sports is exaggerated. Not only do statistics show a rebound in participation numbers virtually across the board, all one has to do is take a walk around city park fields on a spring day to see that organizations catering to recreational sports are still alive and well. As long as there are active young children, there are going to be games played among them on weekends.

It is true that the landscape has changed. Travel or competitive sports have seen explosive growth in the past ten years. More and more players, or perhaps their parents, are opting for this avenue of athletic participation. There is much debate about the effect travel sports are having on the kids they are gobbling up, as well as their families. Regardless of the pros and cons, travel sports are not going away anytime soon and it will be interesting to see what the next ten years brings on this front.

We’ve learned that, by and large, volunteer coaches and league administrators are really good people. The comments we’ve received from articles we’ve written through the years, the conversations we’ve had with league board members, shows us again and again that there are a lot of wonderful, self-sacrificing folks who share our core mission which is to see to it that children have a safe and fun environment in which to play the sports they love. We can’t show our appreciation to each individual who has touched us with their passion, kindness and good intentions over the years. So we would like to say a collective “thank-you” to everyone we’ve gotten to know and to those we haven’t, who do their unpaid jobs quietly without the expectation of any reward other than the knowledge that they made a difference.

And we know that these coaches love our product. Since our inception we’ve seen coaching books, manuals and DVD’s that were supposed to be the “next big thing” to help coaches. Online services promising to help parent-volunteers run professional practices with the click of a mouse or a swipe of your screen are now voluminous. So why, through all this, has CoachDeck continually grown and become the number one resource for coaching drills in North America? We believe there are many reasons. First, a deck of cards is fun. Leagues tell us they love to hand them out at preseason meetings. Coaches love cracking the seal and fanning out the cards, looking at the illustrations, imagining themselves recreating them on the field.

Next, less is more. Using our product couldn’t be any easier. If a league tells their coaches to go to a website for drills and practice plans, it is the rare volunteer who gets excited about this prospect. They spend all day on the computer for work. When they finally remember they even have practice today it’s time to get in the car and head to the field. At this point there is only one tool that will allow them to get all the information they need to run a fun and effective practice in a matter of minutes. And unlike other resources, they won’t forget about CoachDeck because it is tangible and always with them.

We’ve had a great time over the past decade and we know, based on the feedback we get and the number of organizations who re-order our product year after year, that we’ve done a lot of good in community youth sports. When those humble first baseball decks came off the truck all those years ago we couldn’t have imagined what this would become, the friends we would make, the stories we’d hear. So here’s to the next ten years and beyond. We’re grateful and proud you’ve trusted us to help your players and parents, and we hope to always be that little coach in your pocket. Happy New Year!

Brian Gotta is a former youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

Not too late to order your CoachDeck for Christmas

Any orders placed online today or tomorrow should still arrive before Christmas. If you have a baseball, softball, soccer, basketball or football coach on your list, nothing makes a better stocking-stuffer!

Perfect gift for the coach in your life

What could be a better stocking-stuffer than a cool deck of cards with 52 fundamental drills that will help the volunteer coach run a fun and exciting practice? Each drill contains a unique, Make It a Game TM feature that turns an ordinary drill into a fun and exciting competition kids love! Available for Baseball, Soccer, Softball, Basketball and Football. Happy coaching!

Wouldn’t it be nice if coaches studied?

We hear from so many soccer leagues that rely on hundreds of volunteer coaches in their rec soccer program to take online courses or study extensive curriculum designed to create thorough, “progressive” practice sessions. Some may actually do it. But we know that many, maybe most, do not. It is all they can do to find enough time to get to practice after cutting out of work early. What do those folks do at the field? They typically end up just dividing the team into two and scrimmaging. That’s why we designed CoachDeck. The handy deck of cards with 52 good, fundamental drills designed by an A-Licensed coach not only make running a great practice a snap, but since each drill can be made into a fun game, the kids love every minute. It’s a great way for organizations to show appreciation to hard-working volunteers.

CoachDeck Soccer client feedback

Below is some terrific feedback we received from a client using our CoachDeck for soccer. Every coach needs a CoachDeck!

Yes I recieved the deck, and my initial thoughts are great. The drills look easy to do and learn from a coaching perspective and a young player perspective. 

I was finally able to use 2 of the drills Monday evening. First Time Shooting and Bumpout. Both of which were easy to set up and the kids loved doing it. 

I love the soccer balls indicating difficulty so I can try to pick from the easier ones to start and build up. 

Personally I have a difficult time figuring out soccer drills because soccer doesn’t come to me as naturally as basketball does. So when I plan a soccer practice I’m nervous to find great skill oriented drills and I’m not sure if it will necessarily be any fun. 

Then when I find a drill online I have to reread it many times to figure out what exactly to do. With CoachDeck, after you get familiar with the terminology, a quick look twice over the card and im confident and ready to go!

I can definitely see a first time coach having a much easier time preparing for practice with CoachDeck. Also a coach like myself that’s been doing it for a couple of years, I’m less stressed knowing I have plenty of drills if I don’t have time to sit down and search for drills online. 

I definitely love the product!

CoachDeck in North America

Did you know folks are using CoachDeck in all fifty states and every province in Canada? Here is a partial list of who is using CoachDeck. We have become the most trusted resource for volunteer coaches in North America, and we’d like to thank you!

Make Them Want to Come Back

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

Over the past ten years I’ve written many articles on youth sports. One of my original and most often repeated comments is that your first goal as a coach should be that every player wants to come back and play again next season. Regardless of wins, losses, or anything else, if you accomplish this, you’ve succeeded. But how do you do this?

The first thing to realize is that you are the conduit between the player and the sport you are coaching. You represent the sport to the player. It will be difficult for a young player to like the sport, but not like the coach. One of the main reasons youngsters quit sports at an early age is not that they didn’t enjoy the game itself – but rather, they did not like the person managing the team.

So make them like you. The easiest and most obvious way to do that is to smile. Doesn’t mean you can’t ever be stern or serious, but when the players are showing up at the field, make each one feel like you’re glad to see them. Set the tone by joking around a little with them during warm-ups. I used to try to make a nickname for every player at the beginning of the season. Some didn’t stick, but a few did and the kids loved it. You can be serious once practice starts, and it’s OK to bring some intensity based on the age level you’re coaching. But be sure that every criticism is balanced by something else the player did well, (e.g. “You’ve got to watch that ball all the way in. But I like the way you used two hands.”)

Part of making them like you is running fun practices. A serious practice that teaches fundamentals and pushes players to perform can still be fun. I’ve recently seen several drill videos put out by national organizations designed to help their volunteer coaches. In them a professional coach demonstrates how to perform a particular skill, then proceeds to have 2-3 players mimic his actions. Not only is the drill boring, but when have you ever run a practice for just two or three players? Apparently the other ten kids are standing off-camera just watching. Each drill should be made into a game involving every player. All of the drills in our deck of cards have a “Make it a Game” feature that turns an ordinary drill into a competition the entire team will love.

What about being competitive and trying to win? Much of what is written about the “ills” of youth sports blames coaches who only care about stroking their own egos with victories, even if it is at the expense of some of the kids. And much of that is legitimate. Clearly, it is important to judge your audience. I’ve written many articles about when it is OK to get more serious about winning and how far it should be taken – I don’t intend to get into that here.

But when I coached in the Majors Division of Little League, (ages 10-12) we wanted to win. And just about every other coach in the league did too. The kids wanted to win also. Skeptics will say we were over-the-top, that it shouldn’t be about winning at that age. It wasn’t only about winning, but we did try our best to win. One might say that philosophy is bad for the players who aren’t stars on the team, but I disagree. Because we made it a point after every game to go player-by-player and highlight something each individual did to help the team. In fact, we worked even harder to give recognition to the players who didn’t usually contribute as much. If we weren’t all trying to win, that praise wouldn’t have been as significant. And when a youngster with just average ability rose up and did something great and made a huge, positive difference in a game, the thrill he got, the adulation from his teammates, that one moment might be enough to make him want to come back again next season. And when it’s all said and done, that’s exactly what we’re trying to accomplish.

Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com