Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: ability, confidence, criticism, emotion, praise, sandwich
- A young player with a low emotional tank is irritable, less coachable, and unable to deal well with tough situations.
- A young player whose tank is filled is cheerful, more coachable, and better able to deal with tough situations.
Research has also shown that a plus/minus ratio of praise to criticism of 5:1 or better is ideal for children’s learning. When the ratio drops below 5:1, children become discouraged (their tanks become drained!).
So it’s a simple fact. More praise, less criticism.
When fans are cheering for a team, those players experience their tanks filling up. We want to coach in a way that will fill the tanks of our players so they can play their best at all times – we want to cheer our teams on not shout at them and drain them.
And, we want our teams to learn to fill each other’s emotional tanks by supporting each other on and off the pitch.
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Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: anxiety, coaching, confidence, fear, help, mistakes, performance errors, support
I have coached players who make recurring errors during matches but can perform the skill perfectly well in training. They need my support and help. I always start by trying to find the cause of the problem.
Why do performance errors occur?
All players experience anxiety before performing. For many, this enhances their performance by increasing the production of adrenalin. However, in some individuals, it causes them to tense up and has a negative effect.
Players might experience increased anxiety during matches when coaches and parents shout too many negative comments from the touch line.
A player might have all the skills, but consistently makes poor decisions when under pressure on the pitch.
This is common in players who are dehydrated or haven’t eaten or slept properly before matches. Tiredness affects the decision making processes and also the body’s physical ability.
Four steps for dealing with performance errors
Speak to the player and use the following four-point process to help them understand and overcome their performance errors.
1. Acknowledge the error
The player needs to realise they are making errors during matches that, given their skill level, should be avoidable. Discuss how they can perform the skills well and how you both need to find out what is causing the match day errors.
2. Review the errors
Work with them to determine how and why the errors occur. Do they get nervous before matches? Are they eating and drinking properly during the build up to matches?
3. Make a plan
Based on their responses, you can put together a plan with the player to make the necessary corrections for the future.
4. Execute the plan
Provide the player with support to execute their personal action plan before the next match. Ensure the player is realistic and doesn’t expect the errors to disappear instantly. They need to understand it is a long-term process and might take many weeks.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: coaching, confidence, scared, shy, skills
Instead, I’ll be thinking about the boy who joined us halfway through the season; a boy who had never played in a team before or attended a training session. He joined us because he loved playing football in the playground at school and some of his friends were in my team.
His mum brought him along to training one night and asked if he could join in – “he doesn’t want to join the team or play in matches,” she said. “He just wants to feel part of it”. Of course, I let him come along. “He’s not much good,” she whispered to me, as he went and joined the other boys. But who’s to know when he has never played or been coached seriously?
He worked hard in exercises but hid during the game at the end. He liked learning the skills like hook turns and step-overs, and would always watch and listen when I was showing the players how the skills work.
As he became more confident around the squad he came out of his shell more and began to talk and ask questions about what we were doing during training. He took part in some games but was still shy, and it wasn’t until last week that he really made his mark.
One of the opposition players was running towards goal with the ball and our new lad suddenly moved to block the run. He won the ball, then executed a perfect hook turn before passing to a team mate, who ran on and scored. The look on his face was a picture – you could see how thrilled he was.
He grew about 10ft in that game and I’m looking forward to seeing him at training this week.
Coaching gives you the ability to change the lives of children. Never mind winning or losing, we all do that. But to give a child the skill that helps them become more confident in the game they love is something I will always cherish.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: coach, confidence, encourage, inspire, phrases, push, words
It is mirrored in many ways by the words you and I have to use over the course of a season to motivate our players.
But the way children learn both in sport and academia is not through praising talent but through praising effort. Dozens of studies have found that the top performers – whether in mathematics, football, or music – learn no quicker than those who reach lower levels of attainment. In essence, childrens’ talent improves at practically identical rates.
Putting it simply, if your players practise more they will become strong achievers – talent alone is not enough for them to develop into good footballers. I won’t deny that some children come to the game and are naturally better than others, but if they don’t put in the effort the others soon catch them up.
That means phrases such as these are out:
“You did that exercise really quickly, you’re such a good player”
“Wow what a clever move, you must be the next Messi!”
“Brilliant – you scored that goal without even trying!”
And phrases like these are in:
“You worked really hard at that exercise – keep it up”
“That was a great bit of skill, your practise is really paying off”
“Great goal, you must be working really hard in training”
And if you don’t believe me listen to this: A leading psychologist has recently conducted an experiment based around the praise that her students received. All 400 subjects tested were given a simple puzzle.
Half were praised for intelligence – “wow you must be really smart”. And half for the effort they put in – “wow you must be hardworking”.
They were then given a choice of whether to take a hard or easy test. 75% of the students praised for intelligence chose the easy test because they were scared of losing the smart label, but only 10% of the students praised for effort chose the easy test; the other 90% chose the tough test to prove how hardworking they were.
They then took a second test of the same difficulty and the group praised for intelligence showed a 20% drop in performance compared with a 30% increase for the hardworking group. Failure had spurred them on.
Five words can have that profound an effect on the performance of children. If you praise your players for their hard work you will get more out of them than if you praise them for their talent.
It works with my team and I bet you can make it work for yours.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: anxiety, confidence, errors, tactics, tiredness
A performance error happens because a player cannot perform a skill in a match that they can do in training. Once you have identified this type of error and the player has acknowledged that there is a particular problem, you can set about helping him to correct it.
Tiredness is the easiest cause to diagnose and overcome. Ask the player about their pre-match routine. What and when do they eat? How much do they drink before a game? Do they sleep well before matches? If necessary, get the player to keep a simple diary logging their exact routine. Based on their answers you can advise them about eating and drinking before games to maximise their performance.
Speak to the player about what they would do in different game situations. Get them to talk through their decisions during exercises and games in training. In terms of overcoming the problem, put them into more game-related scenarios, and see how they respond. Players can often learn more on how to play in different situations by experiencing them. Encourage players to talk to each other about what worked and what didn’t. Ask the defenders what they saw and how easy different options were to defend against.
ANXIETY ABOUT THE GAME
The first step in overcoming pre-match nerves is for the player to realise that everyone else feels the same way and that if they can control their nerves they can turn it into a positive. Different things work for different players and you may have to try a number of options before finding one which works.
Pre-match routines can help overcome nerves. Introduce a period of relaxation before games. Players sit quietly and focus on their breathing while you speak to individuals and give them positive messages about their own performances. Use self talk and visualisation to help players remember things they are good at, or aspects in which they excelled in past performances.
In some cases, changing a player’s position in the team can help them rebuild confidence. For example, moving a struggling winger to full-back can help to alleviate some of the responsibility on them.
Filed under: Better Soccer Coaching Blog Guests, Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: boost, but, confidence, kids, love, words, youtube
“You did really well…” your player is on the up “BUT… you could do better” you’ve taken away all the good and they feel bad about themselves. You think you’ve been positive but you haven’t
Try using phrases without using BUT.
Here’s my top four:
“You should be proud of yourself” – get the player to think about their own performance. There’s nothing quite like patting yourself on the back after achieving something worthwhile.
“You were brilliant this week” – qualify when the player did well. He’ll realise you’re assessing him each week and will feel he has improved from the last session.
“I couldn’t have done that better myself” – never underestimate how much players look up to you. If you’re putting them on your level, that’s a huge confidence boost.
“Nothing can stop you now” – can there be any bigger plaudit? Today the local pitch, tomorrow the Premier League!
Why do kids love the game? Watch below:
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: blame, blunder, confidence, goalkeeper
By David Clarke
Rob Green knows all about errors after he made one in the World Cup for England against the USA. Then there’s Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczęsny, whose mix-up with Laurent Koscielny gave Birmingham City’s Obefami Martins the ball to score and win the Carling Cup.
“Unfortunately, that’s the life of a goalkeeper,” said the Birmingham City goalie Ben Foster. “You can make a few good saves and then when you let one in at the last minute you’re the villain. But you can see that he’s brimming with confidence and has all the ability in the world. He just needs to put this behind him and move on – he’s got a great career ahead of him.”
Confidence is the important word in the goalkeeping world.
Last season one of my youth teams was drawn away to one of the more famous U12 teams in the UK. We were under no illusions that it would be a hard match, but we spoke about how we would just treat it the same as any other game.
The boys were excited about playing at a ground with a stand and advertising hoardings around the pitch. Half way through the first half we were playing well, and had created a few chances.
The opposition were getting rattled and had put some heavy challenges on my striker. Our opponents tried a long range shot which was trundling towards my goalkeeper. Safe in the knowledge it was an easy shot for him pick up, I called my striker over to talk to him about the heavy challenges he was taking.
I didn’t want him to react to them, and was telling him so when the opposition team suddenly started cheering and shouting. I looked up to see my goalkeeper with his head in his hands and the ball in the back of the net. One of my defenders was shouting at him, and the rest of the team had a look of disbelief on their faces.
“What happened?” asked my striker. I didn’t know. Apparently he had bent down to pick the ball up and taken his eye off it and somehow he missed the ball which rolled through his legs into the net.
One of my players was giving him some stick so I took the player dishing out the abuse off the pitch and put a substitute on. We spoke at half time about how easy it is to make a mistake and the rest of the team gave their support to our goalkeeper.
We joked about it at training, and we never referred to it as the mistake that lost us the game. A young player’s confidence can so easily be broken by incidents like this.