How to coach a winning AYSO soccer team

Shanti Rao
May 28 · 47 min read


How I got here

What’s so great about soccer, anyway?

How to win at recreational soccer

But first, the parents


Practice #1: survive the first game

Not rocket science. Just dribble the ball into the goal.
Common things kids do           What to do about it
prefer one foot left, right, left, right, ....
stops to shoot run all the way through the goal
can't change direction look up
can't look up "how many fingers am I holding?"
wide U-turns step over and reverse
ball gets away slow down -- red light, green light
backs up before kicking hold player's hand and move forward


Game #1

The macro practice plan



The brain has four slots of working memory: two in the left hemisphere, and two in the right hemisphere.
Basic needs take priority over self-actualization
Learning to dribble, and then learning to score
Learning to dribble and score

Practice #2: Ball control





Game #2

More philosophy

Shanti’s soccer player hierarchy of needs

About the practice plans

Technical interludes

Practices #3–5



Fun games for all ages

Game #5

Team dynamics

Practice 6

The OODA loop




Practices 7–11

Goalkeeper development

Player development plans

What to coach next is different for each player

Playoffs (if you want to win)

Coaching your own child


Stages of player development

Hierarchy of tactical development
Hierarchy of strategic development

How to act like you’re a football fan

The traditional numbering system
Symbols in tactical diagrams (needs redraw)



Shanti Rao

Written by

aerospace engineer: failure is not an option -- it's inevitable. physicist: the universe is weird. entrepreneur: the glass has the potential to be filled.

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