Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Let the eight-year-olds enjoy the game

How are England going to create players of the future if the future players are churned out like one big supermarket churns out ready meals?

And that’s not my opinion but the opinion of ex-Watford youth team coach Tom Whalley He reckons young players are not given enough time to enjoy the game, and they are not looked after in a way he thinks is important. In the words of David James the England goalkeeper “Football shouldn’t feel like a job to 8-year-olds.

These are the facts – some of the teams in the Premiership have up to 250 8-year-olds on their books. That is astonishing. How on earth do they keep up with 250 players. And these are just ones from England. When they get older they then have to compete with the players that are bought in from abroad. Players like Frederico Macheda, who came over from the Lazio youth system. He has got ahead of the young strikers who have been at Manchester Utd since they were eight.

And what happens to all these bright young players? Of the 250 eight-year-olds that start out how many get left on the way?

I lost a player once who went to an academy and a year later came back, the shadow of the player he had been, low on confidence and low spirited. He hadn’t made it.

Liverpool have 62 first team players – I was worried when I upped my squad to 17 last season, how would they all get a game!

The numbers that now go through the system in England is huge – I just hope these players are enjoying playing football as much as I did when I was 8.

I saw this video and thought it set out well the goals a coach like you and I should be looking for…

 Soccer Skills and Drills


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I have been coaching for 28 years and my 3 requirements have never changed, though the game has. Have fun is first- because if you are not having fun you won’t want to be there. Get better at playing football, if this was choral then it would singing. Lastly, is become part of team. We play a team sport and it takes 15+ youth players to make things work.

Comment by Marteen De Clercq

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