Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Give your players targets like Barcelona

davidscwnewEven Barcelona give their players targets. Sergi Roberto spoke last season about how he stepped into Lionel Messi’s shoes in the first-team, all part of the club’s policy of giving youth players the chance to prove their worth whenever possible.

Now 21, he has spent a third of his life at Barça, having made his first team debut it 2010 and now in 2013/2014 he has finally been made an official member of the first team squad and is closer than ever to a regular spot in the first eleven.

Following Thiago Alcántara’s departure for Bayern Munich, FCB director of football Andoni Zubizarreta, sadi: “Thiago having gone, our choice is Sergi Roberto,” he said. Yet another example of the club’s philosophy of promoting local talent.

Roberto said: “It’s good that so many Barca B players are getting chances because it shows things are being done right, and that the first-team coaches have faith in the young players.

“We always go out with a special attitude when we play for the first-team – that’s why we try to do our very best for the whole match.”

They may be some of the best youth players in the world to but to get better even Barca’s players need to have their own targets. In my own teams I give targets. A target might be something as major as moving into a team at a higher level, but often they are much simpler – crossing, dribbling, heading – and every single player has his own.

I was explaining my ‘youth’ policy at a dinner party last week when one of the other guests on my table said, “But is it necessary? After all, the players are all the same age – why not just coach the same principles?

”What this guest didn’t understand was that within an age bracket there can be up to a year difference between some of the players.

And that makes a huge difference in youth teams. Some players will grow quicker than others – they might be taller, struggling to cope with coordination; or smaller, finding they are brushed off the ball easily. So treating them like individuals rather than a group of 10-year-olds is actually really important.

You should try to give each of your players targets to meet during the season. By helping them to develop in different ways and try out new things, you may just find a gem you didn’t realise you had. So this week, why not try specific targets, such as “Anthony will try to head every ball that comes to him at head height”, or “instead of dribbling into the box every time, Simon will cross the ball”.

Get your players changing their natural approach to a situation and you may just be surprised how much quicker they develop!

Watch the video clip below of Sergi Roberto at Barcelona:


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