How to Motivate Soccer Players: Soccer Coach Guide

Updated on 
March 12, 2022

If you are reading this article, there is a big chance that you are a soccer coach looking for some tips on how to motivate soccer players. And let me make something clear.

Every single coach in the world experienced at least once - a lack of motivation in the team.

It doesn't matter if the team suffered a humiliating loss, or just needs that extra motivation to keep working hard when things are going great.

After reading this coaching guide, you will learn:

  • How to motivate soccer players
  • The best way to motivate team after loss
  • Why motivation is important

Let's dive right into the 6 tips!

6 Tips to motivate soccer players

So there are a few ways you that you could do in order to increase the morale of your team.

In order to achieve the best results possible, It's best that you combine a few of these at the same time.

1. Include small competitive games in a training

If your soccer players lack in motivation, you should consider adding short competitive games in a training.

Why is it important?

Well, soccer players like to win (as every other athlete). When you actually create short competitive games in training - they will learn to play always for the feeling of winning.

If you are wondering what kind of games are good, check this video:

2. Reinforce positive thinking

Creating positive thinking requires you to always catch yourself when thinking in a negative way - or when your emotions are carrying you away from logical and critical thinking.

When you see a player lose the ball, instead of criticizing you should encourage them to win the ball back.

It's all about reinforcing positive thoughts instead of negative ones.

Change the thinning, and you will change the actions. Encourage players to always seek good things - even in times when the team is on a losing streak.

Suggestion: read our recent article about pressing in soccer here.

3. Set small achievable goals

So what happens when you set small achievable goals?

Well, your team will start to see some goals to work against. It is important that these goals are achievable and easy. Do not overwhelm them with goals like "winning a national championship". Of course - even those are important, but you should create some kind of a "roadmap" to hit this ultimate goal.

For example, you could possibly create a goal to score at least 2 goals every single match. Just by setting this goal - you motivate your team to perform better.

When you set these goals - you should also give them a reward.

Suggestion: If you want to learn how to create achievable goals, I highly recommend you to read this article about SMART goals. SMART goals basically stand for: S - specific, M - measurable, A - achievable, R - relevant, T - time bound.

I remember when our club gave us a reward in a form of a paid team building activity every week we won the match. Honestly, now when I look back I think it was really awesome way to motivate us.

4. Define success for the team

Many times the teams create only one goal such as "win the league" - but they actually don't define what would be the ultimate success.

You have to do it.

Define what success would look like. How the players would feel? What kind of opportunities they would get if they end up winning the league?

When you define success, everybody just knows what's the end game. It must be crystal clear to every single soccer player in your team.

5. Smile a lot

You would be very surprised by what a simple action like smiling can do for morale and motivation.

Especially in times when the team is not doing well. Here is a great article covering everything about smiling.

Smiling is simply contagious and it suggests success. However, it needs to be a genuine smile, not a fake one.

6. Have a talk with individuals

Chatting with the individuals helps them to realize that you really care. Every single coach has to develop a genuinely caring relationship with his soccer players.

Just by talking to them, asking how are they doing helps them to feel much better.

The better the relationship is, the more they are motivated to win the games. It's very simple psychology.

How to motivate players before a game

Now that we covered a few principles and actions you can start doing right away, it's time to answer the most common question I hear from coaches:

How to motivate players before a game?

The best way to motivate soccer players before a game is to give a genuine speech. This speech should help team members to imagine, how it would feel to win the game. While this might work for some players, other players prefer to focus on their own preparation in their own head.

I was one of the players that actually preferred to stay in my own head. However, I still enjoyed listening to our coach giving funny stories before the game. He always had great storytelling skills - so he eased up the atmosphere, but also motivated us at the same time.

If you can do that, then your team will be in a mental state.

Another efficient way is to motivate them with some kind of reward. Financial or non-financial, any type of reward usually works.

How to motivate soccer players after loss

But here is another scenario. You and your team is on a losing streak. How do you motivate soccer players after loss?

One of the most efficient ways to motivate soccer players after a loss is to make an analysis of of what the problems were in the match, setting goals in order to fix them and staying positive and optimistic. Individual talks with players also helps them to stay motivated.

You see, the loss is in the past and nobody can change it. The best attitude is to try to install "learning mindset" into soccer players.

So for example, teach them to always learn from their mistakes and they losses. Sometimes even a loss gives you more than a win. Losing a match is a perfect opportunity for the team to reflect on strengths and weaknesses.

How do you encourage a soccer team - Wrapping it up

So to recap everything we learned today.. The best ways to encourage a soccer team are:

  • Giving a genuine speech
  • Setting achievable goals
  • Talking with players individually
  • Giving rewards for achieving goals
  • Focusing on the positive things
  • Learning process from failures and lost matches

You see, there are multiple ways to do this.

Some players prefer one over the other, but usually, a combination of these will help you to encourage and motivate your soccer team.

It is also good that some players cope with motivation differently. The fact that the player is quiet before the game doesn't mean he is not motivated.. In fact, he can be way more determined than the loudest guy in the locker room.

Don't judge. Respect their process and try to help them when it's needed.

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Tom Lindeman
Ball Athlete project
Hey! My name is Tom and I created this blog in order to help people wherever they are in their sport journey. Inspirational posts, guides, reviews and much more! Read about the project here.
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