- Always be happy and inspired when you greet your players for practice. I usually say something like “it’s a great day for soccer” even when it’s 40 degrees and raining in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- Try to make everything a friendly competition between the players, every race, every activity, I usually let the winners pick between push-ups, sit-ups or sprints. They don’t have to do too many, just enough to remind them they lost.
- Remember that despite the culture of winning you are surrounded by; your top priority is the development of players and not necessarily the result of every game. Yes, you want your players to be pumped up when they win and a little upset when they lose but keep it in perspective; it’s not life or death. I have been very proud of my teams in defeat numerous times.
- The three biggest words in my vocabulary are respect, passion and love. Win and lose with equal class. Respect your opponents, the officials, the coaches and the fans.
- Let the referee do his job. I try to teach my players that the officials are there to help you and protect you. Unlike other sports, I want the players to not yell and argue when a bad call goes against them. When a foul is called and it’s our ball, put it down and play and if it’s against us just get back on defense. Don’t waste energy arguing, it never helps and just creates a bad atmosphere and example.
- Don’t discourage dribbling and expressions of creativity. I’m sure Koach Karl remembers a player like Pierre Littbarski. Use the Google machine to expose them to past greats such as George Best, Diego Maradona and Johann Cruyff.
- 99% of your coaching is done at your training sessions. If you are screaming at players and trying to tell them what to do when they have the ball, then you are simply cheerleading and confusing them. Let them make their own decisions and mistakes and learn from them
- Be humble. There is always someone better than you on the field, and who knows more about soccer than you do. Don’t be cocky or arrogant. The soccer gods always have a way of putting you in your place when you don’t act correctly.
Kris Klassen is currently coaching boys and girls varsity high school teams in Wisconsin. If you’d like to learn more about his career or soccer projects please visit soccerrock.yolasite.com