Coaching a Soccer Game

I have been told that my style of coaching is a little different than that of most coaches. I suspect that the real difference is one of attitude.


I shall explain.


To begin with, I do not talk to the referee during a game. Never. Before the game and halftime, yes, I talk to the referee. Sometimes I talk to him after the game. I see no point in talking to the referee during the game. Talking can create a bad atmosphere and on occasion the players pick up on negative things and then the game gets out of hand. No talking.


I talk to my players for perhaps the first five minutes, but not much longer. To me, the game is like taking an exam. The participants are on their own. Teachers are not supposed to run through the room giving help while the students are taking a test. The same is true in soccer. Force them to become problem solvers; do not solve problems for them. Let them work things out. In the long run, it is the best way.


When coaching, I consider the game to be played in a fish tank. The 22 players and the referee are in the tank alone. Even the linesmen are supposed to give visual signals, not called-out signals.


To me, the beauty of soccer is that the players are on their own to recognize problems and solve them on the field while still playing the game. It is a maturing process, but a very valuable one. It helps the players mature as individuals as well.


At halftime, I let the players talk among themselves. I try to speak to key players alone. You know my rule — no public humiliation. Then I give a few suggestions and add some words of encouragement. Then it is on with the second half of the game.


I don’t know about you, but I do not like to watch a baseball game anymore with all the time outs to discuss some small thing. I do not like all the hand signals to batters and runners on base. Must it be assumed that the players are brainless? Some managers move players around like they were stone chess pieces.

Then there are the football games where the coach sends in every play. More chess.


Try putting the players in a fish tank. Sink or swim; succeed or fail — you are on your own. Next time, pay more attention during practice, as it is the only time that I will help you.


Try it.