Coaching Juniors @ Wests

All junior coaches at Wests are volunteer Mum’s and Dad’s that decided to step up to ‘give it a go’. Coaching or co-coaching your young footballer is a rewarding way to get involved in your child’s sporting life.

There is a free Introduction to Junior Coaching course run by Capital Football which usually takes place pre-season or at the very beginning of the season. There is also plenty of support from experienced coaches to help you run the first few training sessions to get you up to speed. You do not have to be a football player or have had any previous coaching experience to take charge of a team. The main aim is to make sure the kids are having fun and want to come back next year. Exercises, and drills and small sided games form the basis for the training sessions.

Before the start of the season and after registrations start coming in, the grade convenors begin to put kids into their grade groups and then identify the parents within those teams who have coached before (football or another sport), have played football themselves or are known good volunteers. The more advanced graded teams are normally easier to find coaches for as the kids (and the parents) are usually pretty serious about their football; the more social teams are normally harder to find coaches for. Ironically, some of the most memorable and fantastic youth coaching experiences are had in taking a social team that can’t even kick a ball at the start of the season on to success later in the season through hard work and perseverance.

Once the grade coaches are identified, we all meet pre-season (over a refreshing beverage or two) to discuss:

  1. The make up of the teams within the grades
  2. Recruitment of a co-coach, team manager, referees and a photographer (yes, it takes a village to raise a great team)
  3. Work out if any new coaches need more support at the start of the season with sample training plans, one on one ‘coach-the-coach’ or initial coach shadowing
  4. Talk about the start of the season and the player/parent comms needed (example templates are provided)
  5. Chat about using coaching tools such as Heja for team comms (rather than email) and SubTime for managing game day substitutions
  6. Sort out kit (player shirts, team kit bag, footballs, etc.)
  7. Answer any other coaching questions

Just before the season starts the club allocates the available training nights to all of the grades (this depends on availability of fields negotiated with the council each year – usually on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday), coaches and their teams meet and do some preseason training, before launching into the season the weekend after the Easter break.

A typical training session will usually look something like:

  1. 5 mins – General warm up and catch up
  2. 5 mins – Skills warm up and stretching
  3. 20-30 mins – Technical practice (striking, passing, receiving, defending, etc.)
  4. 20-25 mins – Small Sided Game (half player vs. other half)
  5. 5-10 mins – Warm down and fun football skills based game

A typical game will usually look something like:

  1. Coach will arrive 30 mins before the game to put the nets and corner flags up (if it is a home game)
  2. Players turn up 20 mins before the game to warm up (this can be done by a captain for the older grades, or a parent if needed)
  3. The game is played (<30mins total U8 and below, 25mins per half U9-U12, 30mins U13)
  4. Team debrief, player of the day award and a quick check in about the topic for the next training session

Contact your grade convenor or the club administrator if you are able to help.

A couple of myths busted if you are wondering whether this is something that you could do:

Myth

Busted

I haven’t done any coaching before…I’m not sure if I could coach a team.

It’s easy. You have plenty of support from the other coaches and your Grade convenor. There are also heaps of resources from Football NZ, McDonald’s Football, and multiple channels on YouTube dedicated to helping new coaches.

Putting together a session plan seems hard

Apart from the above resources, old hands have put together session plans for whole seasons that you can borrow, reuse, and generally re-purpose. We also all train on the same night and often swap training ideas as we are setting up our pitches.

Coaches can also ask for coach the coach sessions with your new team, where we’ll combine both teams and run the session to give you some ideas on team management, warm ups, games and fitness.

I won’t have the time to coach

On average you can expect to spend 2-4 hours per week, including a training session during the week and a game on Saturday. If you attend a game on Saturday anyway, you are already part of the way there from a time commitment.

We also encourage every coach to recruit an assistant coach for the weeks that you can’t make it.

The season runs from April through August.

Coaching my own child is going to be….challenging

Every junior coach in the club also have their own kid(s) in their team. Most coaches have coached their kids at one time or another and they just end up being another kid on the squad. This is an excellent way to spend quality time with your kids and watch them grow in a sport. They also love having their Dad or Mum as their coach!

The team administration is going to be a pain

We use a simple team management app called Heja. This is a fast, fun and efficient way to manage training, team comms, and attendance. This app also allows us to plan in advance short-falls in players for game day.

I’m not very physically fit

The kids are the ones doing the drills and running!

Coaching Resources

Courses

Capital Football runs regular coaching courses during the season. Book on the Capital Football website – Capital Football Federation – Coach Education. Wests also provides limited funding for coach education. Talk to your convenor or Jo Todd (juniors@westernsuburbs.co.nz) if you’d like to attend a Wests funded coach course.

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) has launched an excellent community of learning for coaches that covers various topics such as coaching children, sports psychology, opposition analysis and modern goal keeping – OFC Learn.

Peer Support

If you are new to coaching, ask your grade convenor to pair you with an experienced coach until you find your feet.

NZ Football and Capital Football resources

Both NZ Football (NZ Football – Coaches) and Capital Football (Capital Football Federation – Resources) have a wide range of resources for new coaches looking to get started and for experienced coaches looking for session ideas.

Two very useful resources are the Coaches Handbook and the Games and Activities Handbook that provides a number of session drills to try with your team.

Lastly, the Junior Framework (U12 and under) and Youth Framework (U13 to U17) are excellent resources for how to structure training sessions and also plenty of drills to improve team skills in various football techniques.

Online Resources

There is a huge treasure trove of football coaching resources online, including excellent paid dedicated football coach training sites such as The Coaching Manual, Soccer Weekly or Top Tekkers. YouTube is one of the key resources for new and experienced football coaches alike. Watching the drill on video rather than reading text describing an exercise is usually much easier for a coach to understand how to incorporate a drill into their session. YouTube is also a good way to grab a quick drill as you are walking out the door for a training session for specific skills focus such as ‘playing from the back’ or ‘goal keeping drills’, etc. (Don’t forget to also search for ‘soccer’ to expand your results to include US references)