Conditioning in Youth Soccer:

As coaches we need to be creative in the way we integrate fitness development into our practices. Research shows that integrating the use of a soccer ball into fitness training and using small group play is much more beneficial to a youth soccer players technical development and soccer fitness. Below are some recommended reading materials to help further your knowledge on soccer specific fitness training:

U.S. National Coaching Curriculum conditioning recommendations for U9 - U18

Small sided games fitness study

Conditioning with the ball - drills from 'World Class Coaching' www.worldclasscoaching.com

Coaching Females in Soccer

This weeks 'hot topic' is on the DO's and DONT's of coaching females in soccer.

For any of you out there who have coached boys AND girls, we all know there is a big difference in the psychological and management aspect of coaching each gender. Whilst you may be able to use a firmer and more straight talking approach with boys; girls will need a lot more reasoning, communication and a lot of positive reinforcement. Mia Hamm, the ex-woman's national team forward once said: "coach us like men, but treat us like woman."

Please find attached a short article on the DO's and DONT's of coaching girls from the NSCAA Soccer Journal. You will see the article discusses the importance of using positive reinforcement, positive feedback and communicating openly.

As coaches we need to foster an environment where female players feel confident; aren't afraid of making mistakes; can think for themselves and make positive decisions and have the ability to set and attain achievable goals. Attached is a short article form UK Elite Soccer regarding the use of 'Positive Self Talk' and 'Mental Imagery' and how it can assist a players confidence and performance, not only females, but ALL soccer players.

Finally, one of the most successful woman's coaches of all time -Tony DiCicco - lead the USA Woman's National Team to an Olympic Gold Medal as well as winning the FIFA Woman's World Cup. He wrote a fantastic book on the methods of coaching females in soccer, it is definitely a book all girls coaches should read. You can purchase the below book on Amazon: 'Catch Them Being Good - Everything you need to know to successfully coach girls' - Tony DiCicco and Colleen Hacker