What Should a Coach Say During Halftime of a Youth Soccer Game?

Halftime is where many a soccer game is won or lost - (Photo: Emmawillard.org)

The halftime break is very critical for any youth soccer player.  Hopefully with orange slices galore, the players will have a nice break to catch their breath and there will be some time to regroup and think about how to approach the second half of a game.  Since that second half is where most soccer matches are won and lost, this 10-minute break becomes absolutely crucial and vital for your exploits going forward.  So what should a youth soccer coach say to his or her team in this vital period?

While tactics might be valuable for professional soccer teams like Arsenal or Bayern Munich, your youth soccer team will find quite little value in changing the tactical approach.  This is because young players don’t really need to be too focused on game plans because the game is so simple at this age.  You must simply go out and beat your opponents.  Having 3 defenders cover a striker won’t do you any good if that striker can penetrate through them all at will!  What can actually help your soccer team is if you simply give them words of encouragement and a spirit to fight harder in the second half.

Halftime can often be a difficult moment for inexperienced soccer players because the break sends their body into rest mode.  Sometimes you come back into the second half with heavy legs and can be beaten very quickly.  However, if the coach gives a rousing dose of passion in his speech, the players can return to the field feeling invigorated and ready to conquer the world!  Heavy legs don’t exist when you are inspired!

So what a youth coach really needs to be concerned with at halftime is inspiring the team to push on and go for the win.  Tell them about how strong they did certain things in the first half.  Maybe they strung together and excellent run of passes, or your goalie made a couple great saves.  Regardless of what the action was, be sure to give high praise where it is due and let the other players know that plays like this will make the difference.  The entire thing should be stated positively in order to boost everyone’s confidence.

As much as there were probably some bad things you saw that you may want to comment upon, avoid doing so.  A young player knows when he or she messes up, and they don’t need to be reminded of their misdoings.  Most likely, if they are getting dominated, it is because the other team is simply more talented than yours.  No amount of tactical adjustments or quick tips is really going to fix that on the spot.

And so when you simply try to boost the morale and put the kids into a position where they feel they can go out and win this game, their second half will feel more comfortable and optimistic.  While anything can surely happen in the coming minutes, realize that it’s up to your players to score the goals and win the game.  All you can do is guide them along the way and pat them on the back for their success!


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