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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.


Qualities of a Good Coach

Sam Snow

Coaches often bounce ideas off one another to deepen their own understanding of various soccer topics. A topic that recently came up among a group of very good youth soccer coaches was, what are the top five qualities of a good coach?  Here are some of the responses:

Tom Statham, Academy Coach at Manchester United FC

A coach must:

  • Care about his players
  • Be able to connect and communicate
  • Treat people with respect
  • Have knowledge of the game
  • Create an environment of enjoyment and learning

Tom Goodman, Technical Director at NEFC

  • Sense of Humor
  • Knowledgeable (teacher)
  • Ethical/Moral/Honest
  • Encouraging
  • Respectful

Darren Bowles, a Regional Manager at the FA

Good coaches:

  • Create and maintain an environment which encourages the players to learn and love the game
  • Show that they care for their players
  • Have a sound knowledge of the game
  • Try to keep things clear & simple
  • Treat everyone with respect

Chris Panayiotou - Developmental Director of Coaching Virginia Rush Soccer Club
C - confident and confidence builder

O - observer, organizer 

A - approachable, always learning 

C - continually growing, competent 

H - hard working, humble and honest 

Vince Ganzberg, Grassroots Advisor for U. S. Soccer
Adding on to your COACH pneumonic: 

O - other-centered

C - care, checks for understanding

Then one quality is a coach who can transfer knowledge into understanding.

Paul Shaw, Coaching Education Director - Virginia Youth Soccer

  • Have character - without this, you are done.
  • Soccer acumen - current and is always seeking (coaching education-soccer and outside of soccer; seek different experiences etc...)
  • Teaching skills - always a work in progress as our culture changes, must adapt.
  • Sense of humor - LOL.
  • Imagination - the coach who can "paint/create/sculpt" in different environments has longevity and inspires.


Ruth Nicholson, Founding Partner and IAF Certified Professional Facilitator – Club Development Network

  • The ability to be a member of a team of adults supporting players (coaches, parents, administrators, etc.), as well as to lead, teach, and inspire a team of players

Dr. Roy Patton, Director of Soccer Genius USA

For the coach of young adult players:

  • Maturity and experience-business and media savvy
  • Ability to build consensus - internal / external
  • Ability to use jurisprudential argument and to be consistent
  • High level of coaching experience and coaching ability
  • Be an excellent and relentless recruiter.

US Youth Soccer

Good coaching and coaches at the u6 to u10 ages :

  • Open the door to a lifetime of soccer
  • Lay the foundation of:
    • Fair Play
    • Game sense
    • Healthy lifestyle
    • Skills
  • Create the environment for players to establish friendships through soccer
  • Guide players learning to interact with others:
    • Teammates
    • Coach
    • Team manager
    • Referees
    • Opponents
    • Spectators
  • Guide parents on their child’s soccer journey
  • How to be a guest at the kids’ game
    • Off-the-ball habits
    • Commitment
    • Punctuality
    • Responsibility
    • Nutrition/hydration
    • Proper sleep/recovery
  • Teach leadership, communication skills, how to cooperate, how to compete, how to share
  • Coach must lead by example:
    • Control emotions
    • Verbal & body language
    • Be a good sport


From the Oregon Youth Soccer Association
Judging a Good Coach

  • A good coach is someone who knows winning is wonderful, but is not the triumph of sports.
  • A kid’s coach is someone who goes to work early, misses meals, gives away weekends and plays havoc with family schedules so he or she can help out a group of youngsters.
  • A good coach is someone who stays half an hour or more after practice to make sure every one of the players has a safe ride home.
  • A good coach is someone who rarely hears a mom or dad say `Hey thanks’, but receives a lot of advice on game day.
  • A good coach is someone who makes sure that everyone gets to play.
  • A good coach is someone who teaches young people that winning is not everything, but still lies in bed at night staring at the ceiling wondering whether he or she might have done anything differently to have turned a loss into a win.
  • A good coach is someone who can help a child learn to take mistakes in stride.
  • A good coach is someone who sometimes helps a child to develop ability and confidence that sometimes did not exist before.
  • A good coach is someone a youngster will remember a long time after the last game has ended and the season is over.


Allen Hager in Fargo, ND said: These are all great comments as they are written from good coaches and organizations. I would only add what a good coach is not: About winning games Yelling at players imperfections Yelling at referees about a missed call Late and unprepared for practices Its all about the skill and tactics
29 May 2015 at 3:56 PM
Jim Rice in Concord, MA said: If you have these, you're well on the way to being an exceptional youth coach.... 1. Technical skill and knowledge of the game. 2. Demeanor to work with young players. Can you balance firmness with fun? Can you manage a large group with a few players who have difficulty following instructions? Can you lift up the players? 3. Game demeanor. Can you allow the players to play the game, take risks and learn in game situations, providing support to the players on the touch line? 4. Sensitivity to understand the player psyche and ability to consider that in coaching choices. Do you understand the difference between boys and girls? Do you consider how your coaching moves will be interpreted by your players? Young players can be devastated by seemingly innocuous coaching choices. 5. Focus on player development. The coach should measure his/her success by how far each player has developed – and not their W-L record. 6. Communication skills. Can you communicate in an efficient and effective manner? Can you relate to the players? 7. Ability to coach technical skills. It’s not enough to have technical skills and knowledge of the game. There is a whole separate skill set associated with the ability to coach – this ranges from knowing how to explain technical aspects as well as how to plan an effective and efficient training session. 8. Care for the player. Do you actually care about each player? Do you show it? Are you familiar with each player’s strengths and improvement areas? 9. Coach, not friend. Can you make the tough decisions that are called for as a coach? Jim Rice, President, Concord-Carlisle Youth Soccer
28 May 2015 at 3:12 PM
Chris Cantrell in Lincoln, NE said: Thanks, Sam! Seeing this reinforces what I am doing, and points me in the right direction for what I am missing as I coach a very special group of young ladies. I know that what we coaches do is often overlooked, and what we don't do is often criticized, but the joys of leading young people to become better people, better athletes, and lovers of the beautiful game greatly outweighs the negative. Remember the five F's of success in life: Fun, Friends, Fitness, Faith, and (of course) Football.
28 May 2015 at 12:59 PM
Trevor Taylor in Bellingham, MA, MA said: Interesting and positive outlines from a variety of coaches but I cringe when some get clever with the words and add things like "business savvy" and words like "jurisprudential." Soccer is a simple game and too many people whom have never played the game growing-up try to add a level of sophistication that just confuses players. Growing-up and playing in England I learned the game from pure and simple playing...This is the problem with a lot of coaching that I've observed over here and even in my own town. The guy (s) in charge on the touchline have to be "yapping "every second and playing each and every ball for the kids...advising them on whom to pass and where to run. Kids need the freedom to learn from mistakes and be allowed to find their way without being robots for the textbook coach. Keep the coaching simple, maintain a positive approach and take an opportunity when all is calm to advise a player on how he/she can better perform. Soccer is a simple game...lets keep it that way!
28 May 2015 at 12:50 PM
FromTheOutside in ctx, TX said: A good illustration of a problem in coaching. The definition is convoluted at best, lacks clarity and direction. It's just all over the place. It would be hugely helpful if coaches (and others) teased out all of the qualities of a good coach and developed a single target coaches can shoot for and parents can use to more fairly evaluate a coach and the job he/she is doing. I also wonder if the definition of a good coach differs widely between coaches and parents. Mass survey?
28 May 2015 at 11:34 AM

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