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Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.


A Peek Inside a National Youth Coaching Course

Sam Snow

A Peek Inside A National Youth Coaching Course

The National Youth Coaching Course is designed to provide club directors of coaching, youth coaches, physical education teachers, and soccer administrators with the knowledge to successfully structure soccer environments for children aged 4-12.

The role of the coach as a facilitator is explored; the physical, mental and emotional needs and capabilities of players from 4-12 are explored; the lessons from developmental psychology are explored; and the art of teaching is explored. Candidates are videotaped for analysis during live training sessions. Take a look below into what goes on at a National Youth Coaching Course and then see if one is taking place in your area.

Figure 1: Coaches and instructors come together each day for presentations on the characteristics of children and the methods to effectively coach them


Figure 2: A lecture opens each day of the course to provide information on effective coaching for young soccer players


Figure 3: Candidates have study groups to discuss the course material, work on a group project and prepare session plans for each day


Figure 4: Candidates get to practice coach with children throughout the course


Figure 5: Each practice coaching session is videotaped for review by the study group


Figure 6: The videos are critiqued by the study group and an instructor


Figure 7: Instructors then consult one another on how to help each candidate improve their coaching


Figure 8: Direct guidance by the instructors is given to guide each course candidate toward successful coaching


Figure 9: Each day the course candidates are given essential information and guidance by the lead instructor


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US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program Coaching Manual

Sam Snow

2015 ODP logo

The US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program has contributed to the improvement of players, coaches, administrators and referees since its inception in 1977. No other high performance soccer program has such a long and deep history in growing the game in America. In 2014 we began a process with both the boys and girls programs of helping the players and coaches learn and execute the American style of play. The contents of the accompanying Manual are derived from the information shared with us by the Youth National Teams of the USA to raise the level of performance for international competition. US Youth Soccer encourages all teams participating in high performance soccer to utilize the Manual to its fullest. By doing so clubs will raise their overall level of play and should, in time, produce more players and coaches capable of making their way farther along the pathway toward the Youth National Teams.

View and download the US Youth Soccer ODP Coaching Manual here.

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A Few Tips On Running Your Training Session

Sam Snow

A Few Tips on Running Your Training Session

Before you take the field for your next training session, check out some of these tips that could enhance your session.


CB 1

Figure 1 -  At the outset get eye level with the players – it helps to bond the group and to keep the attention of youngsters


CB 2

Figure 2 - Get into action quickly - less talk, more play


cb 3

Figure 3 - When you are explaining the rules of the activity or making a coaching point for the team, gather them in front of you for clear communication and undivided attention


CB 4

Figure 4 - Organize the equipment, the training space and the players before you start an activity during the training session


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Figure 5 - Sometimes you can adjust the training space [dimensions of the grid] on the fly


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Figure 6 - There's not always a need to stop an activity as you set up for the next activity


CB 7

Figure 7 - Occasionally have a fellow coach video tape your training session


CB 8

Figure 8 - Ask for feedback on that video from your club director of coaching or a more experienced and higher licensed coach in your club


CB 9

Figure 9 - ALWAYS maximize the kids playing time

For more tips on creating a training session check out our freshly updated document on "How to Write a Training Session Plan"

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Defending Corner Kicks

Sam Snow

Iowa Soccer runs a wonderful coaching symposium each year in Des Moines. I had the privilege to conduct some sessions for the coaches at the 2015 edition. One of the sessions that I coached was on defending against a corner kick. I thought that I’d share with you my ‘cheat sheet’ that I wrote for myself as a reminder of key points before I ran the session.

Defending at Corners – Key Points:


  • The goalkeeper is the primary organizer
  • Near post cover
    • Far post optional
  • Angle of hips to see the ball and the field
  • Positioning to get a path to the ball
  • Jump early
  • Talk – keeper or clear (away)
  • Come out to the ball or stay to handle the shot
  • If you come out then catch or punch the ball
  • If you caught the ball then do you distribute immediately or hold the ball for 6 seconds

Field Players

  • Mark the best scoring spots and then pick up runners
  • Have a marker at short corners


  • Proper positioning of the goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and forwards
  • Deal with the type of service
    • Outswinger
    • Driven ball
    • Inswinger
    • Short corner kick
  • Move first
    • Get between the ball and the opponent
  • Jump early
  • Clearance (head or foot or fists)
    • High, wide and long
    • Make the clearance into an outlet pass if possible
  • Move out together after a clearance

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