Westfield Soccer Association

Parent coach led practice sessions

Weekly email 9/30/15


The season is in full swing and many teams have played at least 2 games already. With the season underway, I will also send out my weekly emails much like I did the last year. All emails will contain useful content in line with the guidelines put in place for parent coaches; the age appropriate priorities; observations from the weekend before and/or tending topics in youth soccer. You might find that some of the emails focus on topics addressed previously. This could be because of the importance of the message and/or there might be a need to reinforce the content of the message.

This message this week is focused on the parent coach led practice sessions. Many of you, both in travel or IC, run a practice session with your team. Since I became the DoC for the association I’ve shared information with all of you either through the weekly emails, the website or coach meetings/clinics to provide you with information you can take with you when preparing your sessions. In this email I will touch base on 2 items that have a major influence on the quality and success of a practice session.

1 – Pick 1 topic for your practice session, and stick with it!

I have addressed this before, but the importance of this message can’t be underestimated. A coach has only 1.5 hours for a session, at most, so there is only so much you can do in 1 practice session. We need to be patient when working with young athletes. It is important to pick 1 topic and build a progressive session focused on the topic of the day. It is hard to resist the temptation sometimes, but we have to stay on topic. A focus on too many topics in 1 session, sometimes not even related to one another, will only lead to disappointment and/or frustration.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the age appropriate priorities. It is also important to address age appropriate topics to ensure success. If your players struggle to maintain their shape in possession and are unable to get open for each other, as an example, focusing on an attacking pattern using the wings is probably not the right idea.

If you addressed the roles of the 1st and 2nd attacker in a previous practice this also doesn’t mean that the players are ready for a more complicated topic. I’m currently working with some of our U9 boys. Together with the trainer working this age group we outlined ourselves goals for the year and so far we have focused on similar topics every week. It takes time for players to get a good understanding of the different game concepts. Good judgement is needed and assess whether or not your players are ready for the next step in their development.

This also leads me to the 2nd point for today’s email:

2 – Utilize the knowledge/expertise of the professional trainer assigned to train your team

Going in to this season we stressed the importance of a good working relationship with the professional trainer assigned to your team. There is no need to go out for drinks every week, but it is very important to stay in touch with each other to ensure you are on the same page when discussing the development of your team. Too often there is still a disconnect between the trainer and coaches, effort is needed coming from both ends to establish a good working relationship, which often means the focus during the parent coach led sessions is on completed different topics.

To ensure continuity from the weekday training to the training done in the weekend it is important that trainers and coaches align with one another. Ask your trainers for their main points of focus during their practice sessions, so the parent coach can work out a lesson plan in line with what has been addressed by the professional trainers.

We are very fortunate to work with so many well qualified and experienced professional trainers. Take advantage of their knowledge and don’t hesitate to ask them for help when working out your lesson plans. They can and should provide you with the lesson plans of the sessions they run! Our players will benefit from continuity in the training sessions. Together the parent coaches and professional trainers can make sure the focus is on age appropriate topics in practice; the focus is on 1 topic; the session has a good build up and most importantly of all, the kids have a blast and are given an opportunity to develop as soccer players.

I included a link to an article in the coaches’ corner with 10 very useful tips that can help you work out your lesson plans for the parent coach led sessions.


If anyone has any questions on this topic, or any other topic, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Thank you




Ruben Vloedgraven

Director of Coaching - Westfield Soccer Association