How Can You Push a Young Soccer Player to Become an Impact Sub?

Who is ready to come on and change the game? - (Photo:

No player likes to be a substitute in soccer.  The best players typically start the games, giving them the best opportunity and time to make impact plays and score goals.  Thus, they basically get to have all the fun, while substitutes spend a great amount of time on the bench, itching to get into the game and struggling to really celebrate when their team wins without their help.  But as any coach will understand, substitutes can be of vital importance in a soccer game.  Players will grow tired as the match wears on, and someone might get injured, leading to a sub having to come on.  Or, your team might be struggling and need someone fresh to come on the field and make an impact.  How can you encourage a sub to give it their all when they enter the game, especially after they’ve grown disappointed by not receiving the start?

Pleasing everyone on your team is basically impossible.  Some soccer players are simply better than others, and deserve to start every match.  However, you want your team to have a good competitive feel throughout the entire squad.  Therefore, be sure to exercise some squad rotation throughout the season.  Give players opportunities and see what they can do with them.  This will help the team in two ways.  Not only will it give your substitutes some pride knowing that they are part of the team, but such a move will also light a fire under your typical starters who have been relegated to the bench.  When no player is certain that their starting position is safe, players will try extremely hard, boosting the strength of your entire squad from top to bottom.

Now, when you are calling upon your substitute late in a game and hoping for them to make an impact, here are some tips.  Place your sub in a position of the field where the opposition has grown tired.  Usually this position is on the wing, where soccer players tend to run the most.  But, depending on the particular players on the field, it can be at any position.  Take a look at who is most tired when calling on your substitute.  The fresh legs could provide the spark your team needs and catch a tired opponent flat-footed.

Also, you should talk to your players about the importance of making an impact from off the bench.  While a soccer player never enjoys being on the bench, let them know that if they make a strong impact that they will get future considerations to start.  Finally, when a substitute player does help lead a victorious charge in a game, reward them with more playing time.  You want your best players on the field, and that should be whoever makes the most plays.

Managing substitutions is a tricky game for soccer coaches.  Players are liable to get angry when left on the bench, and their parents can be even more treacherous.  However, a smart coach will rotate their team so that every player has chances, and it will enable competition to flow, while making sure that the players know that if they can make a big impact in a game that they will be rewarded with more playing time!


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