How To Instill Passion Into Your Soccer Team As A Coach


This season I have found myself reflecting on my passion for coaching.

Did I give 100% of myself to my teams?

Did I touch on everything I wanted to teach my players as a group and as individuals?

Are my players a reflection of who I am as a person off the field?

Most importantly, how much of my family time did I sacrifice in order to give my players the best opportunities to advance in their careers?

I often get asked by younger coaches or those looking to start coaching, do I ever regret leaving my 9-5 job in order to pursue coaching?

You know, there are days that I do question myself but those are few and far between – I have yet to seriously regret following my passion. My wife and kids have come along for what has been a very bumpy ride. However, no other job has afforded me the opportunity to do two things – instill passion in athletes and spend time with my sons, watching them play a sport which they have all grown to love.

I wake up every day looking forward to stepping on the pitch and interacting with kids teaching them to be men, to be warriors, and about brotherhood. Being part of the team just isn’t enough for me, I think that a brotherhood of warriors transcends the idea of just belonging. It is the idea that when we step off the field we carry the ideals we are taught and make those around us better because our passion is just that powerful.

I want people to notice my athletes when they walk into a room. I tell them at every session, they are a reflection of each other – when one quits whether it be at practice or in a game they are not just quitting on themselves, they are quitting on their brothers. They are telling the team that by them quitting they care not for the struggles they have all overcome.

I remember the first time I talked to them about how I view the game – I always equate the game to war. When we step on the field we are going to war. One of the players looked at me puzzled and asked if I wanted them to fight. I said, yes, I want you to fight from the first whistle to the last. His response? “I’ll get a Red Card, coach.” I looked at the young man and said when I tell you fight I mean have a Never Quit attitude towards the other team – show your teammates that no matter how the game is going you will give it your all to the end. It was quite funny watching him process what I had just told him. From that time forward, this particular player has been the captain of the team and every player, coach, and parent has noticed this change in him.

I could talk about passion all day, but at the end of the day passion without action is nothing more than a word. The next time you are on the pitch with your team, take a look and see each one individually. How do they carry themselves on the pitch during practice, during a game? Those of us that have experienced that deep passion can spot a player just going thru the motions from a mile away. Create a culture of brotherhood within your team, you will be surprised how much it will change your season.

What is the biggest struggle YOU face right now as a soccer coach? Comment below…

Article By:
-Marcos Palacios,
Pro Staff Coach
Texans Soccer Club – Houston

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  • Mark Fiddes

    Hi interesting article. I coach under 18s and have been for four years with same team. When asked to take over the team only won one game the season before in the bottom league. Now with some additional players we have gained promotion and just missed out on winning the b league. We undoubtedly play the best football with an excellent passing game unlike a lot of youth teams who still seem to ficus on the long ball to the quick lad up front.

    My question is two fold. Firstly we get caught out on this long ball a little too often, so what drills would you recommend for the defence to practice.

    Secondly, we play beautiful football without talking which is sometimes quite amazing considering the lads can be quiet. I know with talking we can improve another 10 percent or more and be more consistent with our great football throughout the game. How do you get 11 players to talk more. I even got them shouting in turn I love my little pony, just to get through the embarrassment of opening their mouths. Hilarious for all concerned, but they are still far too quiet.

    I would appreciate your advice!


  • Mark Higginbotham

    Hi Mark,

    Sounds like you’re making great strides in the right direction, getting caught in possession can be brought in from a poor first touch which took a player into trouble, but more often than not it’s because a player kept hold of the ball for too long.

    Ironically, getting caught in possession is probably the best way to learn. As long as players can analyse their own performance to see why they got caught on the ball and what they could have done differently to keep hold of the ball.

    Further to this individual exercises on shielding the ball under pressure will be time well spent, Tottenham Hotspurs youth academy recently posted an interesting video where a player received a ball under pressure and had to use their body as a shield firstly to hold possession, but then use their opponents body to almost roll against them to protect the ball whilst moving to more space.

    Secondly, try to get your players to think about what they would do if they had the ball before they receive it in every situation. Where is their easy ‘out’? ( can I recycle possession if I get caught on the ball?) is there a forward pass I could make? Are my team mates moving to offer me that easy out? Etc.

    I posted a live Q&A post recently via facebook, and in that post I ran through a session which had a two pronged learning objective, initial focus was getting players to move, but second to that I focused on getting players to communicate by stripping the session right down and building up the communication from there. It’s well worth watching; just click on videos on our facebook page ‘Coaches Training Room’

    Thanks for the question, Mark.

    Kind regards,

    Mark Higginbotham
    Coaches Training Room

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  • Gavin Brown

    How old were you when you quit the 9-5 to take up coaching? I turn 40 later this year. I was drawn into the world of coaching at a grassroots level when my daughter started playing 5 years ago and have developed a great love of working with young players, (I almost pursued a career as a teacher when I was younger). In the past 5 years I have obtained my Canadian provincial C license (the first level beyond community coaching), and have become a qualified referee. I plan to continue my coaching education and would love to leave my 9-5 to take that leap to make football my daily life but I don’t know how to take that plunge or if there is even opportunities for someone like myself.

  • Mark Higginbotham

    Hi Gavin,

    Often having a young player involved in the sport is a great catalyst to spark your own coaching journey. It sounds like from your background you have an interest in player/personal development.

    Most coaches still work part/full time to supplement their income/lifestyle however I know coaches who coach a number of teams who are able to make this their full time option. I recommend working with a club and getting a foot in the door with their travel teams if possible and if you can prove your value, avenues will hopefully open!