Coaching Advice


A REMINDER By Karl Dewazien

It is close to the end of the recreational soccer season and the excitement established in early season practices has worn off and become a memory of what seemed to be a very happy past. Doom and Gloom enter your thoughts as you prepare for the next practice. Wins and losses, injuries and complaints, excuses and fibs cloud your thought pattern.

You stopped looking forward to holding practices seems like years ago. You just wish that the season could end -- Right Now! Even ‘Dear Abby’ is unable to give you comforting advice on how to bring back the early season practice excitement.

But, – Wait! You still have your Manual, Book and personal notes from the D-7 Recreation Coaching Course that you attended. You search and you search and nothing seems to jump out that can resolve your current dilemma. Where is that Magic Formula that made all those early season practices flow like a dream?

There is/was no Magic Formula. You and your players developed your own Magic Formula which made the early season practices so exciting.

The purpose of the Recreational coaching courses and the9-Step Practice Routine’ in particular, were to give you a framework and structure you could use to make your team better. Even though, it seemed like it, we did not attempt to prescribe or dictate a detailed agenda.

We provided you with details not to limit your freedom and judgment but gave you as much information as possible so that you might fully understand how these ideas can be practices. We hoped you would realize and learn that in all important undertakings - judgment and flexibility are KEY.

The Routine that we asked you to follow was not meant to prescribe or dictate how you develop your players or your team. It was simply a structure the D-7 Recreation Instruction Staff have found to be useful with youth teams of every age and ability. But keep in mind that every situation is a little different, and requires a measure of judgment even art, on the part of the coach.

So don’t be afraid to deviate from the Routine or from anything else taught in the course.  To best serve the needs of your players and your unique situation start thinking outside the box.





Koach Karl

Former California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA) State Director of Coaching

Author of the Internationally Published FUNdamental SOCCER Books Series

Producer of the highly acclaimed ‘9-Step Practice Routine’ DVD.

D-7 Recreation Administrator

Can be reached at: or  

Must Read Article

Joystick Coaching & Officials’ Role  By Sal Blanco

Game #1.  Would it surprise you if I told you that even the league representatives can be “joystick” coaches (probably not). In one of the games, a league representative along with the coaches was constant non-stop chatter that made no sense (it just became background noise and was distracting to the players). They were yelling at the players, telling them where to go, when to pass, when to dribble etc. Needless to say, they should not have been saying anything, but if they were going to say something, they were yelling the opposite of what should have been taking place. Then, when a player is already about to throw-in the ball, they were constantly asking somebody else to do it and the same thing on corner kicks.

Similarly, they were calling off-sides when there wasn’t an infringement; especially from their vantage point. Calling handballs were there was not an infringement etc. They then were taking over my role by calling throw-ins by saying “our ball” and confusing the players on both teams. I put a stop to that by telling them: We didn’t need any help officiating games and to stop talking to the AR.

Another thing that bothered me is that the other team had 15 players and the subject team had 11 players. The team in question lost 5-2.  Fine, but they constantly kept yelling “you are doing fine, you have no subs.” Why make a big deal about that was my thought. The pros only have three subs and do not always use them. I think this sends a wrong message to players.

Game #2  Another interesting coaching matter that tells me that coaches have a misunderstanding or wrong perception of the role of the officials in a youth soccer game.

The assistant coach (“AC”) on my side was constantly asking what the call was when a foul was called. I was not the center; when I am the center, I make it clear not to talk to the officials unless it is to make a substitution or call attention to an injury or we talk to them first. I let them know that that is their first warning.

I have a theory that coaches assume that soccer is like American Football where the official is required to announce the call (e.g., personal foul on #76 for unnecessary roughness). This does not work in soccer because of the speed of the game (i.e., a quick restart).  Moreover, if you explain the call the argument with most coaches will not end there.

Case in point, a penalty was awarded against the team on my side of the touch line. The kick was taken by the opposing team and did not go in at the same time the AR on the other side raised his flag. The AC predictably and incredibly asked what the call was in this case. I felt like saying it was because at this age they get a second shot! I am not sure what he was thinking. It could only be a retake if the GK came off the goal line or the GK’s teammate did something to infringe on the laws of the game. To help the coach (no good deed goes unpunished) I told the coach that his player came off the line. The AC went into how nobody “in the history of the game calls that” etc. Since he had no idea why it was called, his argument about the history of the game was very unconvincing.

Moreover, what made it ironic was that I had called the same infringement at 8:00 (about 4 hours earlier) at an adjacent field. I guess it was a short history!                

Sal Blanco

Cal-N D7 Coaching Director
USSF “C” License
NSCAA National Diploma
NSCAA Advance GK Diploma

Referee Corner

Did You Hear What I didn’t Say?  By Pat Ferre

It can safely be said that as soccer referees, 85% or more of our communication with players, coaches, and spectators is non-verbal.  Non-verbal communication is the transmission of relevant information without using words.

As officials we are scrutinized from the time we arrive at a site.  Our decisions and how we relay them during a match are often judged on our non-verbal communication skills.  Referees must become experts of the unspoken signals in the rulebook.

Our appearance is very important to our presentation.  We must adhere to the expected dress code.  Our grooming and clean uniform must showcase a professional appearance.  In addition, good posture, looking people in the eye and speaking clearly will send the message that we are knowledgeable, confident and comfortable in our role.

Starting with pre-game activities, doing our job professionally by paying attention to details and starting the match on time will go a long way to set a positive tone for the match.

The whistle is an important tool of communication.  The tone needs to be sharp, crisp and loud.  A weak, late and barely audible whistle indicates a lack of confidence, knowledge and decisiveness.  Approved hand signals properly and consistently executed will send the correct message without confusion.

We must remain focused and professional throughout the match including during stoppages.  Anticipating substitutions, “reading the game”, and staying engaged at all times can eliminate unforeseen problems.

Always support your partners.  Our body language can send positive messages which will boost our partners’ confidence or negative ones which show our unprofessional attitude and can also ultimately put our partners’ credibility into question.  Good eye contact, a smile or thumbs up will go a long way in supporting your partners.

We must be approachable without allowing ourselves to be manipulated or influenced by coaches, players or fans comments.  Where we stand, how we speak, what we do with our hands during discussions can also be an issue.  Not making eye contact can be a sign of lying or show a lack of interest.  Using the hand as a “stop sign” or pointing a finger can be offensive.

Non-verbal communication with players, coaches and fans is a very big part of each match and a necessary part of each referee’s toolbox.

How we are perceived as officials is definitely judged not only by what we say but by how we officiate and use our non-verbal communication. 

Pat Ferre

  • USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus
  • USSF Referee Instructor
  • USSF Referee Assessor
  • USSF Referee Assignor
  • District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)



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District News

Roosevelt …Metry Winter Challenge Tournament

December 6 & 7, 2014

Contact: Richard Hernandez (559) 994-8910 

East Fresno…East Fresno Winter Classic

December 13 & 14, 2014

Contact: David Alvarez (559) 268-2015

Reedley…Reedley Winter Invitational

December 13 & 14, 2014

Contact: Patricia Banda Gurman (559-618-0567

Did You Know???

Did you know?  By Alan Lake


Science tells us we are unable to listen to more than two people at the same time. We lack bandwidth. STOP. Think about that.  At any given moment in a game two or more of our players may be talking with each other.  Therefore, maybe, leaving only one additional path of communication open. However, that path is almost completely occupied by the game itself.

What does that tell us? ZERO Bandwidth.  


Now, add the parents to the equation, players on the other team, a second coach all demanding to be heard.  Static noise!

Think more, Talk less- For the players sake make sure all vocal/visual input is short, appropriate, easily understood and helpful.


Avoid, vague generalized comments, push-up (who), get closer (who, to whom), pass it, kick it, pressure, and a hundred other useless pleas.


Soccer is not chess, you cannot just push your pieces into place.  You must enable the players minds and guide them into creating their own solutions. Understand this.  If your players on the field do not understand your words and signals it is your failure.  This is a good time to shut up.


As a coach you should use verbal/visual language that is easy to comprehend.


Practice communication delivery during training.  Simply put, your players need practice.....AND you need practice too.  Hold yourself to the same high expectation you hold for your players.


Practice communication


  1. Every practice, every game, use the same words/phrases and marry
  2. them to actions.
  3. Players need consistency of language - concise, loud, audibly & visually clear, guidance.
  4. Demonstrate visual & audible cues, show what these signals mean. Have your players demo their understanding & application under game conditions.

Your Views

Solving Problems on the Field   By Tony Filicchia 

Q:   On the field, when the game begins, who faces all the problems?   A:    The players

Q:   Who should then solve the soccer problems on the field?               A:    The players!

So why is it that when you visit most any soccer field in the U.S. for that matter, that we hear coaches and parents yelling and screaming instructions to their players? Is this the best way for young players to not only learn, but understand, the game of soccer?

If we are to truly developing competent soccer players, we cannot focus only on their physical skills but also their insight into the game. The number of options a player has at any given moment is numerous, and he must be able to process the situation facing him in an instant. The ability to do this well can only come through experience.

Our goal as coaches should be to develop skillful players who can think on their own, who don't need any coaching while they are on the field. Our jobs should be this simple: 

At Practice:

  • Organize games and activities that foster a learning environment
  • Observe!! (Don't talk, watch!)
  • Make corrections and let the players play

During Games:

  • Put the players in their positions
  • Observe!! Take mental and written notes
  • Use what you observed to prepare your next practice 

Try this. Not only will it make your job as a coach more enjoyable, you'll also see improvement in your players and they will enjoy playing soccer more than ever before!

Tony Filicchia

  • FUNdamental SOCCER Coach
  • USSF "A" Licensed Coach

It Is Futile and Even Embarrassing  By Cort R.

I know how frustrating it can be to have some 16-year-old referee blow an offside call, costing your team the coveted victory. I've dealt with the crying kid who happened to be in goal when that fateful shot slipped into the net, in a clear violation of all soccer goodness. It should have been disallowed. But please remember that most referees, coaches and assistant coaches are just volunteers. And they are volunteering so that your kid can play this game.
It's rarely a good idea to yell at a referee. And, it's certainly never a good idea to yell at one of the kids on the other team -- even if they pushed down little Johnnie, without any regard for the rules. Let the coaches and refs handle it.
I remember one overzealous mom who thought it would be funny to yell the wrong instructions to a 9-year-old on the other team -- this, after the kid's coach had tried to give her the right instructions.

"Clear the ball, Suzie, like we practiced," the coach encouraged. The mom from the opposing team retorted, "Kick it toward the goal, Suzie." She thought it was a hoot. We were all embarrassed for her.
If parents must yell things, keep it positive and simple. "Go, INSERT NAME!" will cover most situations.
Coaches, too, should think about what they yell or even say really loudly, as we often must to be heard half-a-field away. Try following the simple rule of book-ending. When you want to give an instructional critique that can't wait till halftime or the next practice, surround it with encouragement. "Good effort, Johnnie. Next time, try to get it closer to the sideline. But great hustle."

Smiles - just for Laughs

Q: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?

A: Claustrophobics.

Q:  What's Santa called when he takes a rest while delivering presents?

A:  Santa Pause!

Q: What do you get if you deep fry Santa Claus?

A: Crisp Cringle.

Q:  Why does Santa like to work in the garden?

A:  Because he likes to hoe, hoe, hoe!

Q: If Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus had a child, what would he be called?

A: A subordinate Claus.