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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.

 

Youth Awards

Sam Snow

A youth coach asks:

"I am looking for some guidance on coaching Under-9 boys’ soccer. Specifically, is it acceptable to give out player recognition/accomplishment awards to some players (i.e. sportsmanship, MVP, coaches award etc.). I was advised by one parent that soccer is a team sport and these types of awards should not be used. Can you comment on this or provide me with a reference from which I can get some advice? I would not want to use this type of player recognition if not advisable by your organization."

I think that for 8 and 9-year-old kids the focus should be on their participation in the game, growing their love of the game, making friends in the team, getting healthy exercise and learning some life skills along with soccer skills. The coaches giving recognition for good play during training sessions and after a match to individuals is fine, as opposed to a formalized awards ceremony. I also suggest that during the course of the soccer season you look for a chance to give public praise to each kid on the team.

Additionally, a private word of encouragement, recognition or praise will go a long way in building self-confidence. But, it has to be earned and sincere; no cheerleading so to speak.

If you want to have an end of the season picnic for the team and its supporters that would be the time for public recognition of group accomplishments.

Generally wait until the teenage years to give individual awards as you describe in your message, as it will then mean more to the players. They will have achieved at this age a better understanding of the award and its significance.

 

Comments

 
Todd in Overland Park, KS said: I've given out individual awards to my teams before, but did it a little differently. I made sure everyone got one. I didn't give out MVP or Most Goals Scored. I tried to make them based on something other than their performance, with the exception of a Most Improved (and I didn't always do that one). I would come up with funny awards based on something that the player had done during the season. For example, the Yard Sale award for the player that always left something behind at each practice. Others I used were Best Nickname, Rollerskate award (person that was always on the ground), etc. Just make it personal to the player and they won't care if the awards are silly. My players always loved it. I used PowerPoint to create the awards and printed them out on a little nicer paper. They just like the recognition. More importantly you avoid all of the hurt feelings. Usually everyone knows who the MVP is, so there isn't a point to recognize the player further and risk any potential drama.
08 August 2013 at 10:32 AM
 
Bob Riess in Beavercreek , OH said: Great advice but if you still want to give out awards at the end of the season you can come up with fun awards for ALL players on the team and a little story for each on why they received their specific award. Awards like Most Hustle, Mr. Soccer, Best Team Spirit, Biggest Heart, Most Fun etc. can be appreciated by young kids as long as everyone gets one and are sincere.
11 July 2013 at 2:30 PM
 

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