•Provide age appropriate coaching in a safe, friendly environment
•Develop the whole player using the Football Association’s 4 Corner Model which addresses player development from a technical, physical, psychological and social point of view
ROLE OF THE COACH
•Mentor – listen to players, advise and extend their thinking
•Teacher – Set age appropriate challenges
•Guardian – Create a safe, friendly, fun and fair environment
•Facilitator – Allow players to express themselves
•Puts the child and their needs at the centre of all activity
•Encourages players to try new things
•Supports and inspires through practice and game time
•Understand each child as unique
•Communicates using age appropriate language and technique
COACHING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PLAYERS 5 – 11
POSITIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
•Encourage players to be creative and take considered risk in both practice and games.
•Remember – mistakes do happen.
•Let players make some of the decisions.
•Let them know that their opinions count too.
•Create opportunities for players to explore, question and foster their natural curiosity and imagination.
•Allow players to experience success.
LET THE PLAYERS PLAY
•All children should be given equal playing time on match-day - the overriding aim is to develop better football players in the long term rather than to provide a short-term “win at all costs” approach.
•Help players develop their game-understanding by rotating position during practice and games.
•Ensure players are given the chance to play a ‘game’ during every practice session.
•Don’t let the children’s arena become dominated by adults shouting instructions from the sidelines.
SKILL DEVELOPMENT AND DECISION MAKING
•All players should have a ball at practice with the coach’s job to maximise ball movement and touches
•Practice should replicate the demands of the ‘game’ as much as possible. Give lots of opportunities to practice different aspects of the game (shooting, dribbling, tackling, passing, goalkeeping), in context.
•Goals should be used in practice as often as possible to help players’ enjoyment and motivation.
•Small-sided games on appropriate size pitches provide young players with more touches of the ball, responsibility, opposition, decision-making and challenge, all of which help their skill development.
•Set challenges in practice sessions, e.g. Use your weaker foot when you next can, in practice.
•Reinforce the learning focus from practice sessions on match day.
•Set players specific challenges that link to the theme of a recent practice session, which can be discussed at half-time and after the game.
•During practice sessions try to ‘match’ the players up in lots of different ways in order to meet their individual needs.
•Where there are multiple teams in an age group, players should play with and against players of similar ability in order to further their development. Regular assessment of the teams should take place to ensure that players’ development is maximised. This may mean that players move between teams during the season.
DEVELOP FUNDAMENTAL MOVEMENT SKILLS
Between the ages of 5-11 players have a ‘window of opportunity’ to develop their agility, balance, co-ordination and speed (ABC’s).
Coaches should be creative in their practice design and building in a physical benefit for the players, e.g.
•Running and Dodging.
•Throwing and catching.
•Jumping and balancing.
USE A VARIETY OF INTERVENTIONS
Young players don’t enjoy being shouted at, having their mistakes highlighted or having to stop playing the game to listen to the coach talk at length.
A variety of coaching methods should be used to help players learning the game, e.g.
•Question and Answer
•Observation and Feedback
•Trial and Error
USE SMALL-SIDED GAMES
•Players should experience a variety of formats of the game, played on appropriately sized pitches.
•The game is essentially a series of difference scenarios (1v1, 2v1, 1v2,3v2, etc) and players should experience a variety of these game-like challenges during practice sessions. Players in small-sided practice games will develop at a faster rate compared to players playing 5v5, 7v7 or 9v9
•Coaches should use uneven sides in practice as a tool to challenge the players.
Appreciate What it’s like to be Young
•What the game of football ‘looks’ like for a group of 7 and 8 year olds will be significantly different to the game played by older players and adults.
•If a coach tries to ‘fast-forward’ young players to this level too quickly, important stages of development may be missed.
•Young players shouldn’t be benchmarked against adult professional players
CONSIDER YOUNG PLAYERS’ SELF-ESTEEM
Coaches should consider how their decisions will impact upon a young player’s self esteem, motivation and enjoyment of the game.
For example, what would it feel like to be repeatedly used as a substitute?
Coaches should praise effort and positive behaviour as well as good play.
THINGS TO AVOID
•Don’t impose unrealistic adult expectations on young players.
•Don’t be so intent on winning games that young players miss out on the opportunities to learn and fall in love with the game.
•Don’t apply ‘out-dated’ coaching methods with young players.
•Avoid children standing in lines or queuing.
COACHING FOR PLAYERS AGED 12-16
ENSURE PRACTICES ARE RELEVANT AND REALISTIC
•Realistic passing, receiving and possession practices which create appropriate pressure, interference and distraction will help young players develop their awareness and game understanding
•Become more effective ‘off-the-ball’. Develop an understanding of movement to support team-mates and how to create and exploit space
•Develop scanning, predicting and assessing skills to form a ‘picture’ before receiving the ball
DEVELOP BASIC TACTICAL UNDERSTANDING
Introduce players to the 6 phases of the game:
•Attacking when opponents are ‘in balance’
•Attacking when opponents are ‘out of balance’
•Defensive play whilst ‘in balance’
•Defensive play whilst ‘out of balance’
•The finishing phase