Learn How to Coach Soccer

Lesson 13: How to Handle Poor Behavior

Tips on How to Handle Poor Behavior in Youth Soccer

Tips on How to Handle Poor Behavior or Inattentiveness

Especially in younger players, poor attention and being a disruption at practices can be quite common. In order to curtail this, is important to outline expectations to your players before the poor behaviors begin. The pre-season team meeting is a great time to explain these expectations to the players and parents.

  • What is ok in practices?
    • Asking questions, talking during water breaks, taking risks with the ball, doing your best.
  • What is not ok in practices?
    • Talking when someone else is talking, not following directions, ignoring your coach, being mean to others

After outlining these rules (or having your players come up with them is a great team bonding exercise!), it’s important to then outline consequences:

  • 1st Offence – a private reminder of the team rules.
  • 2nd Offence – a sterner reminder of the team rules, and how the player is breaking them.
  • 3rd Offence – telling the player to take a time out. For a timeout, it’s important that the player sits away from any distraction (like bags, or balls, or twigs to play with). The player is ONLY allowed to return when the coach decides enough time has passed, and has a private conversation with the player about how their behavior needs to change in order to continue. If you allow a player to ask and decide when their timeout is over, you will have players take a timeout themselves when you’re doing an activity they don’t like, only to return when it’s something they do like.
  • 4th Offence – Sit player out for the remainder of practice, and have a conversation with them and their parent afterwards.

When instituting these rules and consequences, it’s important that you start the season strict! Don’t let anything slide with behavior initially. After some of the season has passed and you’ve built a rapport with the players, you can start becoming more lenient. It is close to impossible to start lax on discipline and get more strict after behavior worsens.

Set expectations early to save yourself the headache later!

Note: Running laps is not an acceptable form of consequence for changing behavior. Physical activity is something we want players to enjoy, not be thought of as something to do when they’ve been bad.

If you are reading this half-way through the season and your team is out of control because you started the season lax, it could be beneficial to hold a players and parents mid-season meeting and explain the new rules. When you decide to roll them out, it is critical to follow them and start as strick as possible. As stated before, it is MUCH easier to start strick in the BEGINNING of the season.