Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Supporting players who can do it in training but not in matches

David ClarkeI 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.

Tactical naivety

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.


1 Comment so far
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I think the pressure to perform gets to a lot of kids. They want to be perfect, but that actually holds them back. They’d rather no make the move than make a mistake and let their team down.

Comment by Jodi Murphy

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