Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

What advice would you give about coaching your own child


I understand you coach your sons’ teams… I am now coaching my own child… what advice would you give?


davidscwnew1There are a number of things you need to do to try and find the right balance when coaching your son’s team…

Don’t favour them

Don’t build your team around your child. You might truly believe they are among the more talented and intelligent members of the team but resist the temptation to make them the main striker, captain, penalty-taker and free-kick specialist all rolled into one.

Don’t forget them

If you’ve taken on the challenge of managing a team with one of your children in it, there’s a strong possibility they could be among the better players, but while you can’t favour them, don’t go too far the other way and leave them with no responsibilities.

Don’t get angry with them

Don’t vent your frustrations on your child publicly. It’s much easier to do this with your own offspring rather than with other people’s kids because, unless you have the perfect child, you will have told them off in public before. But you mustn’t do this at training or at matches, as it will make them feel like they are being singled out unfairly.

Talk to them after soccer

Do talk to your child after games and training and specifically focus on the football. Let them know why you have made some of the decisions you have and remind them that you have to be fair to the team as a whole and treat them simply as another squad member during soccer sessions.

Don’t tell them too much

Don’t let your child become more than just another player. They may be party to some of your tactics and formations before anyone else, but make sure they don’t start imparting this to the rest of the team and certainly don’t talk to them about the other players. Resist the temptation to turn them into your assistant manager.

Don’t let soccer take over

Do make sure that the team doesn’t take over your relationship with your child. It’s easy to get very involved in youth soccer and you are bound to talk about the game a fair bit with your child as a result, but make an effort to compartmentalise it so you still have a normal parent/child relationship outside of football.

Don’t push too hard

Don’t push your child too hard. It’s great when everyone can see they are a good player because their inclusion in the team justifies itself but, if they have a bad run of form, gently encourage them – do a bit of one-to-one work or rest them for a while.

Encourage other activities

Do encourage your child to play for other teams and to participate in different sports. Not only does this keep their fitness levels up (as long as it’s not overdone) but they will be subject to a different coaching perspective and they may even come back with a greater appreciation of the job you are doing as coach.

Make sure they are happy

Don’t forget why you got involved in the first place. Your child may not be the only reason why you are a youth soccer coach any more, but it will have been the first reason you got involved. So always make sure your child is comfortable with your involvement generally.

Be able to take a step back

Do remember that everyone in your team is someone else’s child and therefore observed by someone through rose-tinted glasses. Every so often try to take a step back and ask yourself the question: are you being as fair and as even-handed as you possibly can to everyone in your team, including your child.


Developing a Coaching Philosophy


8 tips for first time coaches


Play with your head up


Many young players look at the ball when they should be scouring the pitch for opportunities of where they can pass it. If you can get their heads up for twice as long as they are at the moment, that’s twice as many signals, runs and goalscoring opportunities they can spot.And here’s the perfect session to test it:

How to play it

  • You need cones, bibs, balls and two pop-up goals.
  • Use the centre circle of your pitch and place the goals back to back in the middle.
  • I’ve used three teams of three, but vary player numbers to suit.
  • Two teams start in the circle, while the other – a neutral team that plays for the team in possession – runs around the outside.
  • Opposing teams can score in either goal but a player in possession must play a one-two with an outside player before he can shoot.
  • Play for five minutes then teams swap roles.
  • Progress to two or even one-touch if you want to make the challenge harder.

Technique and tactics

  • The team in possession must look up and be alert to opportunities, passing to team mates but also using outside players to control the game, while working overloads that create space for players to run into.
  • The defending team needs to quickly decide on a tactic to protect the two goals or they will be overrun.
  • As well as vision, you’re looking for players to use their imagination, with individual as well as team skills.

Score goals from midfield


If you want your players to create goal scoring chances like the midfield players at Barcelona, try this exciting and fast-moving game and you’ll soon see the benefits.

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Why use it

A session aimed at getting players to create and utilise space in midfield. With quick passing and movement, it should help open up the opposition and make goal scoring chances.

Set up

Create a playing area 40x20yards, with two goals back to back across the middle, but just one goalkeeper. We’re using eight players and a keeper for this session, plus a server who can be the coach. You need bibs, cones, balls and two small goals.

How to play

Start by serving a ball into the game. Players can score in either of the two back-to-back goals. If the keeper gains possession or the ball leaves the area, serve a new ball in. The keeper puts any balls he gathers into the net behind him. When a goal is scored, immediately serve another ball into the game.


Creating space in a match situation with fast and accurate passing will open up the room for midfielders to exploit. In this game a quick switch of play allows players to take advantage of one of the goals being unguarded – they must be aware of the position of the keeper at all times.

Coaching a growth mindset

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The irrelevant question “Did you win?”

davidscwnewMy 11-year-old daughter walked in from her hockey match on Saturday and before I could speak she said, “Guess what?” “What?” I replied. “We won!”

“Wow, brilliant!” I said.
Then she said, “I knew you’d say it was brilliant that we won, but we didn’t, we lost.”

Now I don’t consider myself to be a win-at-all-costs kind of coach, but my daughter has lived most of her 11 years on the touchline of youth pitches up and down the country and has obviously picked up on the celebration of winning and the type of language I use when the teams win.

Screen shot 2015-12-18 at 12.22.56I made a mistake, as my normal question to her would be “How did you play?”, which I always try to ask when she comes in from a match, if I haven’t been watching from the touchline.

The last thing I want her to feel is that she only gets praise if the team wins. The other thing to think about is that win or lose, within a few minutes of the final whistle, children’s minds are already on something else.

When I said to my daughter that it wasn’t the result I cared about but how she had played, she wasn’t interested as one of her friends had texted and her mind was already elsewhere.

It’s only the adults who are still raging hours later about the penalty that wasn’t given. So, as coaches, the lessons are huge – as the players in your team get older they will not remember winning the Under 12s Best Team Is The Winner Cup but they will remember the good times they had with the team and how their skills developed within the team.

Watching Gareth Bale playing for Real Madrid in the Champions League this week reminded me of the story where Bale, aged 15, had gone from being the fastest player to seventh fastest and was less of a match winner.

He was on the list to be released before the head coach decided he should stay. It was a development blip and of course the rest is history. But sometimes the development of a player seems to stall, but rather than sit them on the bench, keep playing them and they will reap the rewards of your foresight.

The question “How did you play?” in this instant is much more relevant to the player than “did you win”. I will be watching my daughter’s development with interest to see whether her comments were a one off.davidscwnew