What soccer coaching equipment you need will depend in part on the age group you coach. For younger kids, you can get away without a lot of tools. Balls and some agility discs will usually suffice.
As kids develop, so should the tools used at training. Whilst balls and agility discs will be at the core of most ball work sessions, agility poles and ladders, training bibs and mini goals will be invaluable tools to enhance youth development.
Speed and Agility Tools
Agility Discs are the most versatile tool available for football training. Also known as cones or flat cones, agility discs can be used to mark out grids, goals, start or end points, target markers, bases, courses and boundaries. A multi coloured set of 50 will allow easier identification of boundaries when explaining drills that involve end zones, no go zones or courses.
Agility Ladders and Poles
As kids progress on their soccer journey, speed and agility become more prominent at training. Agility ladders can be used to drive leg speed & build upper leg muscle. This will improve acceleration away from defenders. Similarly, agility poles will improve change of direction speed, whilst keeping the ball under control.
Some soccer balls brands are better than others. Some retain air for longer, though if you are pumping them up every second week it can be annoying. You want the ball to have a consistent bounce and feel when it comes of the foot. Reputable brands are usually a safe option and will be more consistent in their feel and their retention of air.
Ball Bags are an essential. How else will you lug the balls around? In my experience a good ball bag should have three attributes. It should have a shoulder strap, a draw string and be made from mesh. Those with just a drawstring means the drawstring becomes the carry strap. This will result in the drawstring coming out or tearing around the top. A shoulder strap frees your hands to carry other equipment. The mesh allows balls to dry if packed away wet.
Mini Goals – kids love hitting the back of the net with a ball. Some goals are better than others and some are harder to pack away than others. I like foldable popup goals and for better utility, those with cut outs on an alternate side will provide more fun and greater overall engagement. In some mini goals, metallic frames can break easily when struck with a ball, rendering them useless and dangerous. Avoid mini goals with 90 degree corners and metallic frames.
Electric Ball Pump
Ball Pump – I would advise get 2 pumps. At the beginning of a season (and every season thereafter) and throughout a season, balls will need to be pumped up. Different ball brands lose air faster than others. Having an electric pump is a convenient accessory to reduce the labour intensity and blisters that can come with pumping multiple balls. Also get a smaller manual pump to keep in the kit bag for the occasional requirements. An electric pump will also be handy for air mattresses, cars & pool floats so it can be a convenient accessory to have in the garage.
Bibs – are a convenient way for players to distinguish between teams or attackers and defenders at training. They become almost essential when three quarters of your team turn up to training in a Barcelona team shirt. They are also handy to have in the event of strip clashes in non-competitive soccer, for a goal keeper, or for players standing on the side line.
Flat Disc Markers
Flat Disc Markers are another great coaching accessory to have. Also known as Pancakes in the soccer trade, these markers don’t rise away from the ground. They lay flat and are useful as perimeter markers without impeding play. For example, if you wish to outline a goal area for the goal keeper, flat markers will allow the ball to roll over them evenly. Made from neoprene, they are non-slip and retain grip on the ground.
Other Soccer Coaching Accessories
Some coaches like to use a whistle to help control players and to get their attention. It’s not a necessity, but can be useful. However, if you are sharing fields with multiple teams and there are multiple coaches using a whistle, it can be distracting and inhibit cohesion and concentration. It is best to let the kids get used to the sound of your voice.
There are a plethora of other accessories that are useful for football training and coaching. Tactics boards and drink bottle carriers are just two. Further, a sports bag to carry any accessories such as extra shirts, shorts, bibs, ball pump etc is essential. As youth football progresses, the level of skill specific, fitness, strength and agility training evolves. This will consequently result in more sophisticated tools, though for now, developing your kit bag along the accessories above, will lay a perfect foundations for the future.by