You have signed up to be a soccer coach, and the season is approaching quickly. Now you are probably dusting off your equipment and planning for the upcoming year. So, here is a refresher of things to bring to the next practice session.
Soccer (football) practice sessions require a good amount of equipment including a practice plan, soccer balls, a ball pump, practice jerseys, practice cones, a bag, first aid kit, water, and a cell phone. There are several other items to consider that could make life a little easier such as portable pop-up goals for small-sided games, rebounders for increased ball control, whistle, soccer tape, sunglasses, sunscreen, training aids, and a clipboard.
It feels like a lot of equipment. And it is. Let’s go over a few of the items in-depth along with some other useful tips to help your practice run as smoothly as possible.
Do I Really Need All of This Stuff?
The equipment list can be a bit overwhelming if this is your first-time coaching soccer. Some might question whether they can fit everything in their car. Rest assured, you can make this work. Let’s take a moment and detail out each item and the approximate cost of each item.
- Practice plan: decide what you want to coach during the session. This doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it is a good idea of what you want to do for this practice session.
- One common practice template is play-practice-play. The warm-up starts with a small-sided game to get players active and engaged. Then, the main teaching takes place with structured drills surrounding a theme or skill to develop. Practice ends with a scrimmage and free play to apply the lessons to a game-like scenario.
- Soccer balls: Ideally, every player brings their own ball to practice every month. In reality, some will forget. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the football coach to bring extras. Every player should have a ball at their feet throughout practice especially when they are young. Ball control is learned by continued repetition.
- Cost: Pack of 6 soccer balls
- Soccer pump: This is self-explanatory. Every ball should be pumped filled with air. Kids will forget to inflate their balls. It is good to have a spare. They aren’t that expensive and take up very little room.
- Cost: A basic soccer pump
- Practice jerseys: Play and fun should be the center of every practice. One way to accomplish this is to encourage competition through scrimmages and drills by splitting the squad into different teams and giving them practice jerseys. It can be very difficult if players don’t have pinnies as they tend to forget who is on their team. Remember to wash them frequently as they will stink up the trunk of your car!
- Cost: Practice pinnies
- Practice cones: They are an important part of the practice as they are used for so many things – ball control drills, scrimmage, small-sided games, and agility activities. It is possible to use the field markings to run your session, but it is much easier to use cones.
- Cost: Pro disc cones
- First aid kit: Safety is your number one priority as a coach. Everyone wants to have fun in a safe environment. You will rarely run into issues, but occasionally, a player will have a scrape and small injury that you will need to address. Letting parents know that you are prepared to handle will ease a lot of concerns.
- Soccer bag: Bags aren’t essential, but they make your life a lot easier. It is way simpler to put everything into one mesh bag and throw it into your trunk than try to carry everything individually.
- Cost: Heavy-duty equipment bag
All in all, you can spend around $150 to get all the equipment essentials you need to be a successful coach. This is a small investment for how long these items will last you. While there are many other nice to have on the list, you will be set for success.
Keep in mind the clothing you will need to wear for practice. If you aren’t sure of what to wear, check out this article that I wrote on what to wear to soccer games?
Reach Out for Parent Help
Parents can be a great help for practice. At the beginning of the season, call a meeting to meet with all parents. Here you can discuss the ways in which they can be helpful during games and practice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to make your life easier. Many parents are willing and wanting to assist.
Here is a list of things that every child should bring to each practice:
- An inflated soccer ball
- Shin Guards
- Transportation to and from practice
People occasionally need reminders once and a while. Notify them of changes to practice. The more you communicate upfront the easier your practice sessions will be, and the less equipment you will need to bring to practice. Reduce the burden to make practice more enjoyable for everyone involved.
For older children (U12 and above), make sure you have access to a full-size goal or purchase a portable full size one. Permanent or portable soccer goals are not cheap. They are usually the most expensive piece of equipment. Reach out to the team’s parents or find a sponsor in order to buy this item.
Preparation Is Your Best Friend
As with most things, preparation is your friend. Organized, well-thought practice sessions make your life easier. Plan the practice to avoid any hiccups. Write down the drills, coaching points, highlights, and equipment needed for each section.
Then, put all your equipment in your car the night before you have practice. This way you are less likely to forget anything. We have all been there. We get to practice and realize we didn’t bring any practice cones for the dribbling and defending drills. Then we are forced to improvise. Reduce your stress by staying organized.
Also, create an entire season plan. You spend more time upfront since it includes several months of practice. The benefit is you will spend less time per week as you already put in the work earlier in the season. Adjustments will need to be made. But if your structure is in place it is much easier to work with something than start from nothing.
Every few weeks, switch the technique and tactic to focus on. Here you can draft a few drills and exercises necessary to accomplish this. In this plan, write down the equipment and coaching accessories that you will need for these practice sessions. Maybe you don’t have all the equipment today. This will help you plan for your upcoming season.
Arrive early to practice. At the start of every practice, organize your equipment on the practice field, so you are ready when the players arrive. This is especially crucial if you practice after another team. There are times when you arrive at the field and the previous team didn’t put back the goals in the correct place. All of this can be avoided by a little preparation to ensure an effective and smooth training session.