Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Laws of the playground NOT good for footballers


I was watching a group of boys in the playground of my son’s school in England last week, and how they sorted themselves out for a game of football.


It was all ‘John and I are the best players so we can pick the teams’. And I saw and felt the embarrassment of the last player to be picked. ‘You can have him – no you have him.’

The teams were pretty even, lots of running and not much passing. Of course the boy who was last to be picked was stuck in goal and probably never got the chance to play anywhere else. What will he think of football when he’s older?

This is why good coaches like you and I can have a huge difference in the lives of a lot of children. I’m sick of hearing from various figures on TV (and from my father-in-law) that coaching at youth level has nothing to do with the kids anymore. And that it was much better in ‘the old days’ when boys picked teams and organised themselves. The ‘Jumpers for Goalposts’ era of skills and innocence where boys flourished into footballing idols. So where are all the glorious England teams of the past?

I’ve made boys who would have gone in goal in the playground and never left it, into extremely good players. In fact one of them now playing at under 16 was a player no one wanted in their teams when he was 7 or 8. Through my training he is now the leading scorer for the team and one of the first names on the team sheet.

A lot of what we do as coaches is give children the chance to play in teams, the chance to play up front or midfield or at the back. And giving someone a chance in life is a great gift to give.

There are bad coaches I don’t deny it, but there are hundreds of coaches out there – usually the ones that read Better Soccer Coaching so I’m preaching to the converted –  that can change the lives of a lot of children.


5 Comments so far
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I coach a fair amount of u14 soccer also and I have found it is very imporant to rotate front players to mid and back especially after they score. They also can take a turn or 2 in the goal so they can learn all the positions and what happens if they don’t change fields and if they don’t mark their man well enough the goalkeeper looks bad. many a scorer got imbarresed on defence when he was resting instead of hustling. Lastly it helps discourage running up the score and making offensive mismaatches too obvious, I’ve often wondered why an all star forward was still shooting and scoring when his team is up by 5 or 6 goals evan if the team has a small bench that can only lead to bad blood and if a less skilled player is playing more physically that can only lead to yellow/red cards or injuries.

Comment by coach L

How does a coach teach his defenders to approach attacking players without committing themselves to early to win the ball.

Comment by LEON

Just had the first training session U’11 on the proper match pitch (not allowed earlier) and with a new mix of boys how long would you try to keep trying the new attackers until you realize they are better off in midfield or defence and let better more suited player play up front. Leauge starts this weekend.

Comment by Jorgen

I love the idea of rotating players to new positions. None the less I find it very difficult to do so. It takes forethought and planning. I see that it’s a lot easier to do it the way my coaches did it and if you were a forward that’s what you only play. Same if you were defense. I like to see the children learn all positions and not just have the “slow, hard to move kid” in goal.

Comment by Louis

I believe that kids spend too little time in the playground playing football, but just like Dave I think that the LAW of the playground isn´t fair for the kids.
I coach a group of G10, we are about 30-35 at each training session. These girls I every week rotate in the three teams we have in matchplay.
Right from the start (G6) I was firm that every girl shall play at all positions.
The “born” striker have to be defender and goalkeeper.
The kid who want to be goalkeeper shall have the opportunity to score goal as a striker.

Comment by Per

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