Overview | Principles | Resources | Guidelines | Practices | Game Day | Very Young | More Reading


Welcome to the SOCCER-COACH-L Basic Coaching Manual. We hope that you find many items of interest to you, whether you are an experienced coach looking for new ideas or a brand new coach with no idea where to start. Please make sure you read our disclaimer, and the notices on copyright and reproduction before going on. Note that if you wish, you can download and print a formatted version of the manual.

The Manual was created by a dedicated group of soccer coaches who are members of the SOCCER-COACH-L mailing list, in the hopes that this Manual will assist youth soccer coaches in teaching the "beautiful game" to their players.

What will you find in the Manual? A good place to start is the complete outline, which allows you to go directly to the topic of greatest interest to you. General information on each of the sections is set out below; it may help you to narrow your search, or assist you if you simply want to browse. In addition, you can use the frames on the left-hand side of the screen to scroll through the materials. More information is provided below on how to make the most efficient use of these navigational aids.

The sections in the Manual are as follows:

Resources for Coaching is devoted to providing assorted information which may be helpful to the coach, including available coaching clinics or licensing courses in a number of countries; book and video which may be helpful; links to other websites with soccer coaching information; sample forms; safety & risk management information; and other items of general interest to coaches.

Basic Principles: What to Teach, and Why provides information on what skills should be taught to new players; what it is reasonable to expect u10 or older players to know after one year of training; helpful information on when and how to teach positions; and background information on the basic principles involved in individual and small-group play, which are essential for all coaches and players to know in order to be able to function well at the higher levels.

Practical Guidelines for Coaching contains a number of suggestions on the "nuts & bolts" of teaching soccer, including how to communicate your policies to new players/parents; how to set up your first practice; how to pick drills to teach your players, based on their skill levels and other constraints; what players to put together for drills and why; and a wide range of information on how to help your players to learn soccer (including how to handle disruptive parents and players).

Practice Plans to Teach the Basics has lots of complete practice plans; an assortment of games which can be used for warmups or in place of games in the drills; a sample stretching routine; and a host of other information (such as glossaries of common dribbling moves and common soccer terms) which should prove invaluable to the beginning coach. It may even provide the experienced coach with some new ideas or games.

Guidelines for Game Day includes helpful information on getting your players warmed up & ready to play; effective ways to handle subs during the match; how to analyze the match and quickly make adjustments for common problems; and how to deal with assorted common game day problems, including safety issues, problem officials, and problem parents.

Coaching The Very Young Child (U6 and below) provides information on how to introduce soccer to the youngest set, including helpful information on dealing with the uniform tendency of such players to make a large swarm around the ball during games.

Further Reading contains additional information from the archives of the SOCCER-COACH-L list, as well as other materials which may be of interest to the more advanced coach. These pages are always under construction. If you have any favorite drills for more advanced players, we encourage you to send them to our webmaster - or to join SOCCER-COACH-L and share your knowledge with other coaches.

Legal Notices: Every coach who uses any materials in this Manual should take steps to ensure that the materials are in compliance with the policies and procedures of his or her governing club or administrative body, as well as the applicable laws of his or her country or region; that the drills or games utilized are appropriate for the ages and skill levels of his or her players; that he or she has clarified any unclear illustrations or descriptions with appropriate experts in the field; that he or she will exercise common sense and good judgement in obtaining further information where any materials may be unclear, or where the use of such materials may be inadvisable; and that he or she has taken all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure that players will be properly selected, trained and supervised in the performance of any exercises, games or drills contained in the Manual. No warranties are provided as to the suitability or fitness of any of the materials for any particular purpose, nor are any claims made by the Manual Committee of special expertise (including expertise in matters of safety, medicine, psychology, law, or other learned disciplines) upon which the reader or third parties may rely. Any user or other recipient of any materials in this Manual is hereby notified that the Manual Committee retains all copyright in the materials in the Manual. Please review the copyright notice for restrictions on the reproduction of these materials.

Translated to Plain English: The materials in the Manual are being provided free of charge for the personal use by soccer coaches. Use the Manual at your own risk. If you screw up, it is your own fault. And, if we screwed something up, you need to understand that we are all amateurs who are doing this for love, not for money - so we make no guarantees about the quality of anything in the Manual. You need to take full responsibility for checking out any advice or materials which you decide to use with whatever experts in the applicable fields which you or your Club or insurance carriers might find to be necessary or appropriate, and it is your own darned fault (not ours - either individually or collectively) if you don't bother to do this.

Note on copyright: This work is a creation of the SOCCER-COACH-L Coaching Manual Collective, which is a pseudonym for a joint project among several individuals intended to provide basic information for the benefit of soccer (Association Football) coaches, especially those who are new to the game.

The copyright in this jointly created work is jointly held by the individuals named in the list of contributors contained in the manual, who created and wrote this work.

Note on reproduction: all copyrighted material contained in these pages, except for any pages containing a specific notice to the contrary, may be copied and distributed subject to the following restrictions:

  1. no fee of any kind may be charged for the material;
  2. all copied material must clearly identify its source and contain the statement on copyright shown above.

How to use these pages

The left-hand frame is a navigation frame. To view the main page for any section, click the name of the section (in other words, to see the introductory page for the 'Resources' section, click the word 'Resources' in the left-hand frame. To display a list of all the pages in a section, click the arrowhead beside the name of the section; to hide the list, simply click the arrowhead again, or click the arrowhead for another section. In this way, you can display a list of pages for any section while viewing any page in the manual. A non-frames version of the manual will be available once content has been finalized. A downloadable, printable version of the manual will also be made available when time permits.

Downloading and printing the manual

Thanks to list member Shel Fung, a downloadable version of the manual is now available. This comes as an Adobe Acrobat file, so you will need Acrobat reader, available free of charge from Adobe. NB: in its current state, the file runs to nearly 300 pages and weighs at just over 650KB.

Updated 12 September 1999