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Plan Practice To Keep Young Players Engaged

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Erin Chastain (@ChastainErin) has served as DePaul University Women's Soccer Head Coach since 2007. Earlier, she spent five seasons at national soccer power Santa Clara University as an assistant coach. During her tenure with the Broncos, the program reached the championship game of the 2002 NCAA Championship, the semifinals in 2004 and the quarterfinals in 2005. She also helped the program to West Coast Conference titles in four of her five seasons. Erin also spent time during her first three seasons at Santa Clara working with several youth teams in the Bay Area, including the DeAnza Strykers and the North Valley Tornadoes.

A key to successful coaching of younger (pre-high school) athletes is keeping practices engaging. That means changing drills and other elements of training frequently to prevent boredom or going-through-the-motions. It also means designing each drill or practice segment -- and the practice as a whole -- in ways that avoid having the players standing around, waiting their turn.