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📚 Coach's Playbook

Game Plan

A Simple Guide for Youth Rec Soccer

Coaches, this guide is designed to help you navigate the basics of planning and executing a successful game day for your youth rec soccer team.


Starting Lineup

Whether it’s 3v3 or 11v11, know your starting lineup before the game. This helps you plan your substitutions and ensures everyone gets a chance to play.


Use substitutions to manage player stamina. It’s a great way to give kids a break and also allows them to experience different positions on the field.

Game Structure

Games are usually structured as two halves. The duration may vary depending on the age group.

Game Plan

Arrive at least 30 minutes early

  • This gives everyone time to warm up and get ready.


  • Follow a Dynamic Stretching Warmup.
  • After warming up, engage the players in simple passing and shooting drills like ‘give-n-go’.

Game Time

  • Make sure players hydrate before taking the field.
  • Briefly review the game plan, reminding them of what they’ve practiced.
  • Encourage good sportsmanship and cheering for teammates.
  • Remind them to have fun and enjoy the game.

Player Morale

  • Keep an eye on player morale, especially during challenging moments. A quick pep talk or high-five can go a long way.
  • When giving feedback, find the positive first to engage the player, then give them directions to improve. Don’t just criticize the player everytime they make a mistake.
  • Pay attention to the kids’ verbal and non-verbal cues. If a player seems down, a quick chat can help lift their spirits.
  • Allow players to take on different roles (like captain for a day, or leading stretches) to give them a sense of responsibility and inclusion.
  • Mistakes are OK. They are a coaching opportunity.
  • Acknowledge individual achievements, however small, to make each player feel valued.
  • Have a quick team meeting to reflect on what went well and what can be improved, always ending on a positive note.

By following this simple guide, you’re setting the stage for a fun, inclusive, and successful game day.