Tis’ the season for soccer camps. I’ve seen my share, but admittedly, not all. So, maybe what I’m about to write is already done in some places. If so, would love to hear about it. I just haven’t seen it.
The soccer camps I’ve seen are slightly more relaxed versions of soccer practice, where kids go from station to station and do stuff and get zero to little personal feedback that can help them improve.
Here are things I think would be cool.
Coaches, show us what you got!
It drives me nuts when camp hosts barely touch the ball. The most inspiring moments I’ve had is seeing, up close, someone way better than me do something so I can see how it looks when someone good does it.
I recall taking some kids to a pro indoor soccer match. We sat close. During warmups one of the players juggled. You could tell it was next level with clean touch, perfect height and control. These kids had been bucking learning to juggle. “Too hard! You don’t need it on the field!” But when they saw it up close, their eyes lit up and it got them interested.
So, show how it’s done!
Evaluate individual technique and give pointers on how to improve it
Work 1-on-1 or small groups in evaluating technique on key skills like shooting, receiving, passing and dribbling and give pointers on a 2-3 things each individual can work on to improve technique.
I think a soccer camp is a waste if each player doesn’t walk away with a couple of specific insights on what they can work on to improve their own technique.
Teach one or two really fun things that can also be used in games
Kids should be learning the basics on their own and at regular practice. I think camps should be place to introduce one or two next level skills that can also be useful in a game, like pulling wild balls out of the air, beating someone on first touch and how to flick the ball on. These aren’t things that coaches typically have the luxury to work on at practice, but they can be very useful.
Give an overall honest assessment to parents and players on where they are at and what they can do to improve
I also think it’s a waste if kids walk away from soccer camps without having received some overall feedback on where the coaches on where they are in their development. Players should be benefiting from feedback from a variety of sources, not just their team coach.
This doesn’t have to be all encompassing. “Hey, you’re strong on the ball, but can really work on that first touch and thinking about where you are passing.”
Have some cool contests
One thing I do see at camps are games that are a bit more fun than the typical soccer practice drill. But, why not take it further?
Who can best bend a ball around a dummy? Most accurate 60 yard drive? Who can get 4 corners shots the quickest? Highest (in the air) juggle and still maintain control? Judging on dribbling through a gauntlet of an obstacle course. Judge on things like control, creativity, number of changes of direction and number of surfaces used on the ball. Who can blast a watermelon into bits with their shot?
Maybe have one or two of these types of contest over the camp.
2 Coaches v 7 Campers
I love Youtube videos out of Japan that show 3 pros vs 100 kids and the pros win. This is fun for the kids, plus it makes the kids think and models the skill and tactics they should be moving toward.
Adjust the numbers based on the age and skill level of the campers.
In my younger days, I taught a group of neighborhood kids basketball on my driveway. I’m not that good, but at the time I could beat them 1v5, so they got sick of losing and actually listened to me and soon enough we were playing 2v2 or 3v3 because they got better.
Other random thoughts on goofy contests:
How many defenders can you beat in a row on the dribble? Most creative juggling routine. Most body parts used in a consecutive juggle.