One of the key questions coaches must ask themselves is “Are the players transferring what we do in practice to the game?”    

Winning is, without dispute, good for morale but if the wins come by just kicking the ball and running after it this is not going to be very effective, developmentally, in the long run. During a game, keeping track of how many times the players use a move which you, as the coach, introduced during the week is an ideal alternative to the constant emphasis on winning games. Nothing replaces the development of skills which players will be able to incorporate into games in future years. That is what youth development is all about.

In the course of a week we can show players how to use certain simple moves like a drag back, scissors move or a back heel. At younger levels just passing the ball backwards is a major success. Having a clip board and checking off the number of times a player executes a move or skill in games, is especially, helpful when coaching younger players. At the end of the half or at the end of the game young players will have a real interest in how they scored in the “Skills League” division.

The Skills League is an accounting process whereby players get a point for each move they make in a game…moves which they have been taught in practice…including back passes. Coaches make their own skills league depending upon what they have taught.

The Skills League may not be done every game and it is recommended that the coach give the tabulation process to an assistant, a player or a knowledgeable parent who sits close to the coach or even on the bench. Progressive clubs might even publish the results of the skills league on their website – this has to be done carefully and requires some thought. The key is to maximize the development of the players under the coach’s care.  

Enjoy your coaching,

Jeff Tipping

Admiral Technical Advisor