Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: fun, mind games, player specific, players leaving, training sessions
I had a conversation last weekend with a youth coach regarding why players sometimes go AWOL halfway through the season. He told me his team had won every game they’d played, but the number of lads attending his training sessions was dwindling week-on-week.
There are reasons why kids suddenly lose interest, although sometimes coaches need to step back to really see why it’s happening.
In particular, the coach I was speaking to highlighted some areas that gave me instant cause for concern:
1. His sessions were heavily focused on outcomes rather than development. Winning was always the main target at his club.
2. Over-coaching was a huge problem. Training was heavy on drills and exercises, with little uninterrupted game play that allowed players to experiment, and with that, experience failure and success.
The problem for this coach’s team is that even though they were winning games, the players have been getting to a certain age and discovering soccer was no longer fun. And when players aren’t having fun, their development stalls.
At this age the players should be hitting real highs in the way they understand the game, and their play should express this – tactically and technically. Ideally you want players who have a desire to learn, to succeed, and who possess a low fear of failure. That’s the ideal, but naturally, you can’t buy that off the shelf. You have to create an atmosphere that encourages your players to want to develop, learning from their mistakes along the way.
At the heart of it, as coaches we must do our best to promote an environment that is challenging, fun and free of fear. This builds confidence and self-esteem, but it all comes down to the basic idea that if you treat people well, they will respond to what you’re asking of them.One of the things I always tell coaches who are struggling with training sessions is to picture the excitement in children when the bell rings for break time at school. This is the atmosphere and spirit you want reproduce, albeit with a bit more control!
Small-sided games are an ideal way of generating this sort of enthusiasm and energy. Within those games, let the play continue uninterrupted, and at the end allow players the opportunity to offer their feedback.
And unlike the team leader I was chatting to last weekend, don’t over-coach the session – only make points when it’s absolutely necessary. That will leave the players wanting to come back for more next time around, I guarantee it.
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