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Coaches & Refs

COACHES & REFS INFORMATION

Coaching Guidelines - Spring Season

Welcome to Hatboro-Horsham Soccer Club (HHSC) and thank you for volunteering to coach/ass’t coach a team this season! The primary goal of HHSC’s spring soccer program is to provide a fun, laid-back environment where new players can break into the sport and more experienced players can continue to develop and enhance their soccer skills. Spring soccer is played exclusively on Sundays and we usually do not recommend holding practices between games since many players also play baseball or softball in the spring and have weekday/weekend practices. Coaches can work with their teams before each game to practice skills and prepare to play.

For many players, particularly in the younger age group (U-6), this is their first experience with organized sports. At the U-6 level, the primary objective is to ensure that the players learn the basics and, most of all, enjoy the experience and build confidence so they are ready to come back and play in the fall. At the older age levels (U-8, U-10 and older IM teams), the same core objectives apply with the added element of more competitiveness, which inevitably becomes a bigger part of the game. At all age levels, we want to stress skill improvement, not winning and losing.

To ensure that all players have the opportunity to play and learn on the field, team sizes and the number of players on the field during games are kept small. This “smaller-sided teams” approach is also consistent with the overall direction being taken by local, regional and national soccer programs across the country. The focus on skill building obviously grows as the players become older and what we can reasonable expect from players also changes depending on their age.

General guidelines for the spring soccer season – all age groups:

  • All Intramural teams were established with the primary objective of making the games as fair as possible.

  • Skill levels, ages and the male/female ratio were considered and distributed as evenly as possible on each team.

  • Teams were kept as small as possible to maximize coach - player interaction and to provide all players with the opportunity to participate actively in the game.

  • The primary goal of intramural soccer is to ensure that all players learn the game, improve their skills and enjoy the experience. Coaches are encouraged to downplay winning/losing and stress building skills and learning to play as a team and have fun.

  • All games will be played during the one-hour timeframe allotted to each team on Sunday afternoons. Some age groups have five games being played on the same field Sunday afternoons. Therefore, starting and ending your game on time is very important.

  • All players should rotate through the different positions during the game (offense and defense). All players should also be encouraged to try the goalie position (U-8, U-10 and older IM levels only). All players should play a minimum of half of each game (preferably more). Depending on the size of the teams and the turnout each week, substitutes may or may not be required. Ensure that teams are playing with an equal number of players; trade a player or two for a game if necessary to make the teams even.

  • All players should wear black shorts (or sweat pants), shin guards with socks worn over the shin guards, cleats (required for U-8 and older players; optional for U-6 players) and should bring a water bottle. Boys are strongly encouraged to wear athletic cups. NO JEWELRY (earrings, necklaces, metal hairpins, etc.) should be worn during games. Team jerseys will be provided at the fields the day of the first spring games. Please plan to arrive at the field approx. 30 minutes before your first game and ask parents/players to do the same.

  • Assign a Team Parent (see Reg. Forms / Team List) and ask that person to set up a drink/snack schedule so that each game is covered. This person can also help with telephone calls if a game is cancelled.

  • Referees will be used whenever possible for U-8, U-10 and the Older IM games. If no Ref is available, the coaches should share this duty. Remember that the Refs are in control of the game and their decisions are final on the field. Any questions regarding calls should be held until halftime breaks. Only coaches should question calls (not players or parents). Remember, we are all volunteers.

  • The goal bags will be placed on the field at the beginning of the day and removed at the end of each day. Most days, the goals will be assembled and ready for the first game. However, it is the responsibility of each coach/parent helper to assemble (if needed) and disassemble the goals (except for U-6) after the last game each day. The goal bags can be left on the field and will be picked up after the games. PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THE NET FROM ONE OF THE CROSSBARS WHEN DISASSEMBLING THE GOALS – keep the net on one of the crossbars as you place the goals and corner flags into the net bags.

  • The IM Coordinators will contact coaches at least one hour prior to game time if a game will be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. Keep in mind that a decision may be made to cancel U-6 games while the U-8, U-10 and/or older IM games are played.

Please remember that this is Intramural, not World Cup, soccer. The level of competitiveness should be managed and controlled by the coaches, appropriate to the age of the players. By focusing on teaching our players soccer skills and teamwork and minimizing the intensity and competitiveness, we’ll all have a much better soccer experience.

Please contact one of the coordinators with any questions and visit our web site for additional game / coaching resources.

COACHING GUIDELINES - FALL SEASON

Welcome to the Hatboro-Horsham Soccer Club (HHSC) and thank you for volunteering to coach/ass’t coach a team this season! The primary goal of HHSC’s soccer programs is to provide a fun, supportive learning environment for all players and their families. Competition is natural part of sports but we believe it is secondary to teaching skills, learning the importance of teamwork and ensuring ALL PLAYERS participate to the fullest extent possible in practices and games.

The following are general guidelines for all intramural coaches to follow for the fall season:

  • All IM teams were established with the primary objective of making the games as fair as possible. Skill levels, ages and the male/female ratio were considered and distributed as evenly as possible on each team. Teams were kept as small as possible to maximize coach/player interaction and increase participation during practices and games. Coaches are encouraged to downplay winning/losing and stress building skills, learning to play as a team and having fun. DO NOT run up game scores. If your team is notably stronger than the opposing team, move stronger players to defensive positions, reduce the total number of players from your team on the field by one or two, etc.

  • Team practices can begin in early August (any time after 8/1/12). Coaches establish their own practice schedules weekday evenings or on weekends and can use the Keith Valley Middle School (where all games will be played) during the following hours: Weekdays, 6 PM – Dark; Saturdays, 9 AM – Dark, Sundays, Noon – 6 PM. Most teams practice twice per week, with practices lasting between one and two hours, as appropriate to the age level.. It is a good idea to pair up with another team coach at your age level and hold practices at the same time so part of the practice time can be devoted to short scrimmage games.

* NOTE: The annual HSA Colleen Reilly Tournament is August 17th – 19st at the Keith Valley Middle School. Please don’t use the KV fields on those days.

  • Most games will be played Saturdays on a rotating schedule, with game times starting in the mid morning and running through late afternoon. Some teams (U-10 age and older) will also have several Sunday afternoon games. Make-up games resulting from rainouts may also be scheduled on Sundays. Players (and their parents) should be told to arrive at the field NO LATER THAN 15 MINUTES PRIOR TO THE START OF THEIR GAME so the games will begin and end on time.

  • All players should rotate through the different positions during the game (offense and defense) and should be encouraged to try the goalie position (U-8, U-10 and older IM levels only). All players should play a minimum of half of each game (preferably more). Depending on the size of the teams and the turnout each week, substitutes may or may not be required. Regardless of the number of players available each week, coaches should ensure that teams are playing with an equal number of players; trade a player or two for a game if necessary to make the teams even.

  • Players will be given uniforms (jerseys/shorts/socks) on Opening Night and should wear them for all games with shin guards (socks worn over the shin guards) and cleats, which are required for U-8 and older players. All players should bring a water bottle to all practices and games. Boys are strongly encouraged to wear athletic cups. NO JEWELRY (earrings, necklaces, metal hairpins, etc.) should be worn during games.

  • Coaches should assign a Team Parent (see Reg. Forms / Team List) and ask that person to set up a drink/snack schedule so that each game is covered. This person can also help with telephone calls if a game is cancelled.

  • Referees will be scheduled for all U-8, U-10 and the Older IM games. U-6 games are “self-reffed” by the coaches. If no Ref is available for a particular game, the coaches should share this duty. Remember that the Refs, no matter their age, are in control of the game and their decisions on the field are final. Any questions regarding calls should be held until half-time or after the game. Only coaches should question calls (not players or parents) and should speak with the Refs privately after the game or during halftime breaks, not during the game. The refs are giving their time to help the club; please treat them with respect.

  • The goals will be placed on the field at the beginning of the day and will be removed at the end of each day. Most days, the goals will be assembled and ready for the first game. However, it is the responsibility of each coach/parent helper to assemble (if needed) and disassemble the goals (except for U-6) after the last game each day. The goal bags can be left on the field and will be picked up after the games. PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THE NETTING FROM ONE OF THE CROSSBARS WHEN DISASSEMBLING THE GOALS AND PLACING THEM IN THE NET BAGS.

  • The IM Coordinators will contact coaches at least one hour prior to game time if a game will be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. Keep in mind that a decision may be made to cancel U-6 games while the U-8, U-10 and/or older IM games are played. Individual teams/coaches should not make the decision to cancel games. If at least one coach will not be present for a game due to other conflicts, contact an IM Coordinator so another coach/board member can be asked to coach the team.

  • The fall season will officially begin the weekend after Labor Day. Opening Night festivities will be held at the KV Middle School Friday, Sept. 9 (in the evening). The first day of games will be Saturday, September 8. Team Picture Day will be Sunday, Sept. 9. A game and team picture schedule/ordering envelope will be distributed to coaches in advance. Team pictures are held at Keith Valley Middle School between Noon and 3PM.

Finally, please remember that this is Intramural, not World Cup soccer. The level of competitiveness should be managed and controlled by the coaches, appropriate to the age of the players. We want the games to be fun for players, their parents and for the coaches. By focusing on teaching our players soccer skills and teamwork and minimizing the intensity and competitiveness, everyone will have a much better overall soccer experience. How you conduct yourself as a coach on and off the field will directly affect the tone of the game and the behavior of the players and parents on the sidelines.

Please contact one of the Coordinators listed on each team's section of the web site with any additional questions.

Player Positions and Team Formations

When children start playing soccer at younger ages (U-6 Division), the emphasis is on small-sided soccer. At these ages, teams use 4 v 4 without goalkeepers. They eventually move to a 6 v 6 (including a goalkeeper) when they get to the U-8 Division. The small-sided game maximizes the number of touches each player gets, and also gives them an opportunity to understand the basic concepts of the game.

At these beginning levels, the players are just beginning to learn how and when to pass the ball, and you may have begun to introduce the concept of positions (for example, in 6 v 6 you may designate one or two players at a time to be defenders, or, to be certain that they get back on defense every time.

In the U-10 Division, the number of players on the field expands, and the size of the field expands. Now, there is a need to assign positions to the players and to be certain that there are players who defend and players who advance in an effort to score. You play 8 v 8 (including a goalkeeper) and it is often difficult to decide on a proper formation. For example, in 8 v 8 you may play a 3-1-3 or a 2-3-2. A 3-1-3 means (3) defenders, (1) mid-fielder, and (3) forwards. A 2-3-2 involves (2) defenders, (3) mid-fielders, and (2) forwards. You might also try a 3-3-1 or 3-2-2. These are stronger defensive formations and will certainly help to limit scoring chances by your opponent, which is important if you feel you are overmatched in a game.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all of these formations. For example, a 3-1-3 may give you a solid defense and a solid offense, but there is the risk of large gaps between the forwards and the defenders. This makes it difficult for the defenders to get the ball to the forwards, and leads to a situation in which three of your players are playing and the other three are watching and waiting. For example, either the forwards are working together in your offensive end to try and score while the defenders are standing and watching at mid-field; or, the defenders are fighting an attack while the three forwards stand near mid-field, waiting for the defenders to get the ball out to them. With a 2-3-2 the midfielders have to run a great deal. They will either stay close to each other and cover the entire width of the field, or stay just in front of the defenders, or stay just behind the forwards, often getting involved in the offensive third of the field. Triangles tend to be an important shape in soccer, for passing and support. The players can form triangles in several of the formations (2-3-2, 3-2-2, 3-1-3).

Whatever formation you decide upon, as a coach you will then need to communicate the concepts behind the positions to your players. Some players learn on the field. Others learn by looking at a diagram. Others learn well from reading and re-reading a textual description of their responsibilities.

You need to tailor the positions (defenders, mid-fielders, and forwards) to your particular coaching approach, philosophy, and formation. For example, if you decide on three mid-fielders instead of one of two, the responsibilities of the center mid-fielder may differ from the responsibilities for the outside mid-fielders. You may want your center mid-fielder to be aggressive on offense or you may prefer him or her to drop back on defense or to mark the other team's best forward or mid-fielder on defense. You probably want the wing mid-fielders, not the center mid-fielder, to take throw-ins. You may want your wing defenders to take all throw-ins. You may want your center mid-fielder or a wing mid-fielder closest to the corner to take corner kicks. There are many variations.

Coaching Tips

  • A good coach uses the style of play that gives his team the best chance of being successful.

  • You don't have to push up defenders to midfield. Use your discretion with the players you have and push up to their skill level. It’s much easier for slow, unskillful players to be successful fullbacks if they “defend deep” and are given clear guidelines to follow. If you have fast, skillful fullbacks, then you probably should “push up” when you attack. However, all players should move with the flow of the ball.

  • The defenders should be learning to defend in "layers", or in other words, backing one another up. You can position one fullback 10 yards beyond the other. You can also have a skill player at halfback/stopper and have them back up the defender as well.

  • Match your defense to some degree to the skill level of the other team's forwards.

  • Learning to "READ" the field is the best asset a player can have, and it takes a lot of patience to teach this aspect of the game.

  • The midfielders need to be the players that can run the full field at least a few times without needing a sub. The other players need to handle the middle with triangles so each player has at least two ways to pass the ball.

  • Formations need to be flexible depending on the opponent. There is no one golden formation that works at all times.

  • In the intramural age-groups all players should be playing all positions.  

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES