When developing players it is important to empower them to make decisions. Empowering players makes them more likely to stay interested in the sport because they are able to make decisions about what skills they work on, how they play the game, etc. Coaches should simply be advisors and provide guidelines to the players. This role would entail providing certain drills to the particular skill the player wants to work on, or allowing them to be creative during games and scrimmages. Increased empowerment can help players develop faster who are serious about becoming better players. However, players who are not as serious may use this empowerment to slack off.

Even though some players may use their newfound empowerment to slack off, for most it will give them more opportunities for development. Their decision making will give them opportunities to fail, realize what works and what does not, realize they are good at one skill and not so good at another. If a coach disempowers players, they may never realize these opportunities and not grow as much. For example, if a coach simply forces a player to practice their already polished skills, or practice precisely to fit into the coach’s scheme, then they will not grow, or have an opportunity to fail. Disempowerment of players will stunt their growth long term, and could cause them to become disinterested in the game.

Coaching game awareness depends on the players age and skill level. This information is partially explained in Lesson One, Topic One.

For younger players, under 12, practice should mostly be made up of fun games. Coaches should utilize small groups to keep waiting time to a minimum, little kids lose interest if they have to stand around. Keep the informative talk to a minimum, young kids will learn from doing rather than sitting and listening.

For players between the ages of 12 and 14, coaches could use larger groups, and increase the information presented through speaking to them. The larger groups should still be utilizing the skills learned in the smaller groups for U12.

For ages 14-16, coaches should introduce set plays, as well as offensive and defensive goals. Players should also have more game-like situations in practice to increase their competitive drive and game skills.

For O16, nearly all drills should be based on game-like situations. However, it is important players get individual work to fine tune their weaknesses. Throughout the levels of ages, practice duration should increase, as well as the amount of information given and film study.

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