Our aim is to focus on the development of each player and team we have by ensuring we create a fun, learning environment for the players. We aim to ensure that when players leave the club, they have a better chance of succeeding in the world through the skills they would have learned, whether it is in football or any other profession.
What type of players do we want to produce?
Players who are confident in their technique
Technique should be emphasised by coaches especially at the earliest age groups, the youth (especially young children) absorb knowledge more easily and so it’s critical for them to have as much time with the ball as possible.
Players with game intelligence
The aim is to develop players who understand the game, that are able to make the right decisions at the right time.
Players who feel comfortable in more than 1 position
As players grow older, they tend to prefer or excel in one position. However they often only experience playing one or two similar positions in their playing career, most likely due to the pressure applied by a coach due to placing winning over development of a player. Players should rotate positions frequently throughout the course of their early football career, especially at youth stage. It provides them with different views of a match and so they learn more about the game, which leads to an improved game intelligence that is common among great players. They might end up liking a position they didn’t think they could play!
Players with a desire to learn
Players should NOT play in fear of making a mistake. This curbs their creativity because if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. Mistakes should be viewed as a learning curve to success and this should be emphasised by coaches. A continuous hunger to develop and work hard should be inspired into every player.
Players who are mentally strong
Setbacks will occur in a player’s career. Setbacks will occur in LIFE. There are two responses to setbacks; have a negative view and dwell on them or push on with a positive attitude and focus on what’s happening now. So we as coaches should encourage players to have a positive attitude. This will allow players to deal with inevitable setbacks within a game and to keep on persisting, which they could hopefully use in other aspects of their life.
How do we develop this kind of player?
Sessions are fun
The aim of every session should be that the players enjoy the session, which leads to freedom of expression on the ball and in their play.
Create a learning environment
Mistakes should be seen as a learning curve and not berated by the coach or parents. Players should be encouraged to try new skills and be creative in their play in training and on match day.
No lines, laps and lectures (“The 3 L’s”)
Lines are defined as children standing in line waiting to execute the tasks given by coaches. Should have at least one ball per child in your equipment bag, minimum 1 ball per 2 children.
Laps are defined as coaches punishing the children to run laps around the pitch if they have not performed well, or have done anything the coach did not like. Or they are defined as a warm up, which signifies a lack of preparation by the coach; not utilising the limited time available for a session.
Lectures are defined as coaches standing on the pitch giving long talks and/or theory instead of the children doing different exercises. Leads to a lack of time on the ball and learning-by doing.
Small Sided Games
Small Sided Games (SSGs) 2v2 3v3 4v4, should be at the heart of everything we do at training; technically, tactically, psychologically and socially. SSGs are the best way for children to learn as they keep a practice both real and fun. You can adapt them to every aspect of the game. SSGs create more passes, dribbles, shots, goals and decisions compared to 7+ a side. As a grassroots club it is also important that players are given more actual playing time especially when they may only train once or twice a week.
Above all the children like the adapted games much more than repetitive drills.
Develop physical literacy
They need the physical competence to do the technical stuff and the technical qualities to do the tactical stuff. ABC’s (Agility, Balance, Coordination) should be worked on in every training session, specifically for the younger age groups (6-14 years old).
Sessions should incorporate some sort of individual ball work
Starting the session with individual ball work is far more likely to increase their comfort with the ball and dribbling skills, which will help to develop their technique.
Training should be competitive without placing too much pressure on players
Development is key but incorporating competition in training breeds focus and allows players to get used to feelings that accompany competition, which builds mental strength. However, winning should never take priority over development. The win-at-all-costs mentality is detrimental to the development of a player.
Coach the coach: help for coaches
Motivation and encouragement
Whenever a player makes a mistake, they should be encouraged to try again and keep persisting. Motivating a player creates a stronger bond between the coach and the player, inspires persistence and a positive mindset. Children don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.
Every child is different – treat them as a separate individual
Pay attention to how you speak to every member of your team. Every player has their own personality and it’s important you cater the way you handle a situation with each player.
This applies at both training and matches. Players don’t enjoy being shouted at or having their mistakes highlighted. Encouragement and patience are key. During match day, there will be no ‘touchline shouting’ or negativity. Tactical input is acceptable but try to stay silent, let the players play and observe the match. Talk before the match, at halftime and after the match. Look for what the team may need to work on and apply it in your next training session.
Children mature and develop at different rates
Don’t base team selection on who’s the biggest and/or fastest. Some children might be short now and experience growth spurts later on in their life. So basing team selection on genetic attributes is harmful to the development of all players.
Training sessions need to be realistic
It’s great to be creative with your training sessions, but make sure they stay as realistic and true to the game as possible. Goals should be incorporated into every session. Always end in a match with no conditions and just let the kids play!
Make sure there is a theme running through your training session and a steady progression to a game where they are able to show off what they learned. Try and link the different parts of a coaching practice together.
- Warm-up: Players work in twos passing through a variety of different sized gates, using different techniques and surfaces of the foot.
- Skill development: Play a small-sided possession game (e.g. 3v1 or 4v2) on appropriate sized pitch.
- Game: Any 4v4 game (SSG) with a focus on passing or a through-the-thirds game.
Use a variety of coaching techniques
Use questions wisely to help bring out the coaching points of your session. Good questions lead to good answers. Every individual learns in different ways. Some players learn through what they hear, some may need to see it in action and some may need to do it themselves to fully grasp it. Vary your coaching style to accommodate this. Engage players in their learning. Let the game be the teacher rather than telling them what to do. The coach should be a facilitator.
Use these different techniques for different situations that arise in your training session:
COACHING METHODOLOGY COMMAND (DIRECTIVE) QUESTION & ANSWER OBSERVATION & FEEDBACK GUIDED DISCOVERY TRIAL & ERROR Player / Coach Interventions Coach tells and shows required solution Coach leads with question to gain answer from players Coach and players observe Coach asks a question or issues a challenge Players and/or coach decide on challenge Example “I want you to…!” “Can you tell me what you can do here?” “Let’s watch this!” “Can you show me…?” “Try for yourself…!” Description Coach determines the chosen outcomes in practice Coach poses questions and players offer verbal solutions to challenge Players and coach observe and discuss feedback Coach prompts and players offer visual demonstration of their personal solution Players are encouraged to find solutions with minimal support from coach
The Art of Coaching
You can learn a brilliant book of coaching drills by heart, but the ability to act at the right moment, to make an accurate analysis and to show how things should be done, is much more important. That is the heart of the matter.
Values of our Club
What is success? How do we measure success?
- The happiness and well-being of the players.
- The retention rate of players in each age group.
- The number of new members that join and new teams that need to be made.
- Not based on talent, everyone is given a chance. Can we build a second team ?
- Equal opportunities.
- Of the parents in the club. This can be a major aid in the development of players.
Team spirit between all age groups
- No individualistic mentality of each age group.
- Watching each other’s games when possible.
- A bad reputation for one team/manager/coach affects the whole club.
Build a community spirit between volunteers, coaches, parents and players
- One club. Everybody helps each other out.
- Teaching life lessons, setting the right example and being a role model.
- This applies to coaches, parents and everyone involved in running the club.
- No swearing or abusive language.
- No bullying between players or between coaches and players.
- No racism.
- Respect the referee.
- Respect the opposition.