Focus, Focus, Focus: Doing More by Doing Less in Coaching Youth Soccer


As coaches, we seem to have a natural impulse to correct everything on the field, all of the time! We also want to construct amazing and imaginative practices and end up having to 10 minutes to just explain it!

In this post, I will demonstrate how you can use Target Ball once per week for 20-30 minutes per session for 10 weeks and focus on something different every time. I have found Target Ball to be hugely popular for U8 players and above. Because they get used to the game, you can set it up quickly and get into playing with minimum fuss.

Here is the basic progression I would use (change them as you like, but you will see they go from simple to more complex concepts/skills. Also, you can and should still use the Target Ball progressions (as outlined in this previous post).

So, you should only stop the game in order to coach the focus for that week. This is where you can use the Guided Discovery Questions and highlight players doing it right (or “catching them being good”):

Week 1: Side foot passing technique
Week 2: Shooting with the side foot
Week 3: Making the field bigger on offense (spreading out)
Week 4: Possession
Week 5: Switching the point of the attack
Week 6: 1v1 attacking
Week 7: 1v1 defending
Week 8: Position of the weak side defender(s)
Week 9: Getting the defense to step up from the back
Week 10: Pressing high up the field

Of course, these are just sample topics, but the point is that if you want your players to really learn something, you have to keep your message focused on ONE THING! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for practices; find a game they like and use it as a vehicle to teach soccer concepts/skills…one at a time.

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