Children who play soccer have a variety of skills and techniques to learn as they strengthen their playing abilities. Appropriate aggression, such as the willingness to go after 50/50 balls to gain control of them during play, helps players succeed in the game of soccer. As you guide and coach young soccer players, teaching them to play aggressively will help them play more effectively.
Prioritize fun as you help children develop soccer skills, advises the Hudson Youth Soccer Association. By making the game enjoyable, you increase children’s interest in the game and energy as they play. Children who have fun playing soccer are more likely to look for opportunities to engage with the ball.
Talk about appropriate aggression so children understand how to play positively and safely. Appropriate aggression does not involve physical aggression that injures other players. Aggression also does not involve anger or negative rivalry toward opponents. In contrast, appropriate aggression involves playing positively within the rules of the game to gain control of the ball.
Play games during practices that increase appropriate aggression, suggests the Soccer Coaching Guide website, a resource provided by a licensed youth soccer coach. One game involves dividing children into two teams and lining them up facing each other with a free space between them. To make running less necessary, narrow the empty space between the lines of children to about 20 feet. To make more running necessary, increase the distance between the children. Throw balls one at a time in fast succession into the free space and instruct the children to run into the space to gain control of the balls and return them to their respective sides. The team with the most balls wins the game.
Watch professional soccer games with children so the youngsters can see how professional players gain control of a ball with appropriate aggression, suggests Mark Thompson, a former college soccer player with the Soccer Classroom website. Watching how professionals play enables you to point out the situations in which players challenge opponents for the ball. When a foul occurs, point out what the professional player did that resulted in the foul.
Provide positive feedback for players as you coach them and watch them play. Make specific statements about plays that show appropriate aggression, such as, “Nice work, James! You got the ball!” and “Way to go, Anna! You were right in there!”
Create an incentive program to encourage aggressive play. Keep track of each player's playing during games and practices and note incidents of appropriate aggression. After a specific number of aggressive plays, award a prize. Some coaches award soccer patches that players can iron onto jerseys or jackets, according to the Soccer Help website.
- Hudson Youth Soccer Association: HYSA Small Fry/Advanced Small Fry Coaches Info
- Soccer Coaching Guide: Soccer Drills – How To Become A More Aggressive Soccer Player
- Soccer Classroom: The Difference Between Playing Aggressive and Playing Dirty
- Soccer Help: How to Use Patches to Motivate Scoring, Defense, Hustle, Aggressive Play and Practice
- Roger Weber/Digital Vision/Getty Images