One of the key ways for youth soccer players to develop is to work on individual skills at home. It has always been my philosophy that dribbling and other individual skills should not be worked on at practice. Practice is a time to work on team skills and strategy.
The problem I found with this philosophy is that I was having a hard time getting my team to practice at home. I would reiterate the necessity at every practice, but I could tell that it wasn't happening. This is when I decided to implement homework into my team's training.
As a coach you should be able to judge which skills need to be worked on by your team as a whole. With my team it was ball control, especially off the chest and thighs. So I decided to come up with a list of items that needed to be worked on for an hour at least 5 days every week. This list was printed and handed out to each player at the end of practice. They were required to have their parents sign the paper when they finished and return the paper the next week.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that my homework regiment was met with very little resistance. I think that the parents and players understood that becoming a better player doesn't happen with only 1 hour of practice every week.
Over the next few weeks I noticed a marked improvement in the dribbling and trapping skills of my team. But the real results came when we beat a seemingly unbeatable team in the finals of a large tournament only 1 month after starting our homework regiment.