8 Coaching Mistakes to Avoid

Most of us don’t have to be coaching more than one season to realize there are things we could or would like to do better.  If we reflect after a practice or game, at the end of a season, or at the end of the year, we all typically recognize mistakes that we have made.  Perhaps it was in our practice plan or execution, our emotions or coaching points during a match, the way we handled a situation with a player or parent (or both,) or maybe just our overall approach to the art of coaching.

I recently came across a repost from The Soccer Toolbox of an article by John O’Sullivan, founder of Changing the Game Project in which he addresses mistakes he made early in his coaching and how he tried to address them. Below is a recap of that article, the full text can be viewed HERE,

I hope that they spark some thoughtful reflection and potentially some guidance. I have also included some additional “Coach Growth and Development” resources after the recap.  As most of us head into a new season this Spring it might be a great opportunity to wipe the slate clean and give a fresh approach to our players.

8 Coaching Mistakes to Avoid

By John O’Sullivan

Here are eight things I wished I never did as a coach, and what I should have done instead:

  1. I Focused on Outcomes (Instead of Learning)
    • Instead of focusing on “did we win?” I should have focused on “did we learn?” 
  1. I Focused on Being Serious (Instead of Enjoyment)
  1. I Tried to Inspire by Demeaning
    • Instead of being demeaning, I needed to be a demanding coach.
    • Demanding coaches make their athletes’ eyes shine, while demeaning coaches extinguish the fire
  1. I Took Credit for the Good and Blamed Others for the Bad
    • Instead, I should have given them credit for success, and personally owned more of their failures. 
  1. I Did Lots of Talking
    • I was very good at lecturing my kids, when instead I needed to be a better listener. 
  1. I Acted Like a General (Instead of a Teacher):
    • I should have guided and mentored them and accepted failure as a natural part of the learning process 
  1. I Used Fear as a Motivator (Instead of Love)
    • Instead, I should have been more like today’s most successful coaches, and motivated through love and connection
    • No athlete will play harder for a coach then one who feels cared for and loved.
  1. I Knew it All (Instead of being Humble):
    • Instead of wasting years being a know it all, I needed to be humble, curious, and a life-long learner.

Coaches, we owe it to the kids to honestly evaluate our coaching, and if necessary, hit the reset button like I did. 

Additional Resources

Tryout FAQ’s

How do I register for tryouts?
ALL soccer-athletes MUST COMPLETE the tryout registration online before participating in the tryout process. Click here to register now!

*Please make sure that you register online at least 24 hours in advance to ensure that the soccer athlete is in the system and we have your information to notify you after the tryout process.  There is a Registration Steps document on the Tryouts page that will walk you through the process. Each soccer athlete should attend both tryout days if possible. If you are unable to attend both days please reach out to the Program Director listed below.

Birth Years for the 2022/2023 Season
For the 2022/2023 season, Kings Hammer will follow U.S Youth Soccer’s guidelines and will organize its teams by birth year:

*Interested players must register to try out for their birth year.

Can my child play up an age group?
Any player playing up will be at the discretion of their respective director. All players need to register and attend the tryout for their correct age group.

What should I wear/bring to tryouts?
Please come prepared with a fully inflated soccer ball, proper footwear, shin guards, and water. Each prospective soccer-athlete will receive one free Kings Hammer Soccer Club tryout t-shirt with a tryout identification number on the back of the t-shirt.  Each prospective player will be identified by the identification number throughout the process and MUST wear this t-shirt at each tryout session for the 2022/2023 soccer year.

We will not be able to attend tryouts or are new to the area and missed tryouts. Is there a process in place to allow for an alternate tryout?
Yes! If you are not able to attend tryouts or missed the tryout dates, please register and then contact the Director for the Program/Age Group you wish to tryout for so that arrangements can be made. We also hold supplemental tryouts throughout the year. Roster openings may be limited after the initial tryout period.

What are the differences between Academy and Premier?
Our Academy provides a highly competitive environment for higher-level soccer athletes. This program provides those athletes with the best local training offered by our qualified and professional staff. Our Academy teams play at the highest possible level providing showcase opportunities to College, Professional, and National level programs.

The Premier Program is a community-based program. The Premier Program provides the opportunity for players to play other sports or have other interests outside of soccer. This program is designed to be flexible, convenient, and affordable.

Can I try out for multiple programs?
We encourage anyone who wants to tryout for all levels to do so. Current KHSC players can ask their coach/director for guidance if they are unsure about which program to tryout for. You will need to register for each tryout separately.

If I tryout for a program and don’t make it, can I try out for another program?
Yes. If you don’t make an Academy team, we strongly encourage you to tryout for a Premier team, attending tryouts for at least one day.

If you don’t make a Premier team, the Classic Program may be an option. Contact Michelle Okumura ( if you’d like to pursue this option.

Will there be more than one team in each age group?
Yes, when possible, there will be more than one team per age group, per program. It all depends on the number of players at tryouts and their skill level.

If my child doesn’t make the top team, can they move up during the year?
Yes, there may be opportunities to move up throughout the year as long as the coach/director feels it is in the best interest of the player’s development. There may also be opportunities to guest play across all levels.

What can I expect after tryouts?
After tryouts you can expect communication from the club in the form of an email.  (Please double-check that your email is correct in the PlayMetrics system, this is the email we use) This will either be an acceptance email, offering your child a position on a team, or an email letting you know that they should tryout for a different program. Players who are offered positions on a team may also receive a phone call from their coach. All communication will come within 24-48 hours of the end of the last tryout. You will then have 24 hours to either accept or decline your email before your spot is offered to another child.

What are the next steps if my child makes a team?

  1. If you are new to the club, you will receive more information regarding your uniform ordering in your confirmation email.
  2. If you are part of the Academy or Premier Programs, you will receive the link to Demosphere to register your child in the state system in your confirmation email as well.

How long is the season?

  • Academy
    • U11-U14: August-November, January-May (possible post-season in June)
    • U15-U19: November-May
  • Premier
    • U7-U14: August-October, March-May
    • U15-U19: November-December, March-May

My child is in middle school but plays on a U15 team. Will there be a fall U15 program for trapped players?
Yes, we will offer a program for trapped 8th graders for the fall season depending on interest. The program will run from August to October and is open to players that are currently in the 8th grade that will be playing on a U15 team starting in November 2022. Questions please contact:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley  |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |

Can a team come to the club and join as a team?
Yes! The team can join the Classic Program. For more information please reach out to Michelle Okumura at

Who is in charge of hiring coaches?
If you are interested in a coaching opportunity, please fill out the following coaching form –

Program Directors:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |
Premier Xenia: Brent Lewis |
Premier North: Wil Cagle |
Premier Sycamore: Ryan Handbury |
Premier Central: Michael Ratliff |
Premier South: David Shemilt |
Premier Versailles: Brandon Cummons |
Premier Lexington: Fonyam Atanga |