Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


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



The dad on the touchline isn’t happy…

This is exactly the kind of thing that happens more often than it should in youth sport. Get the parents of your players to watch it and make them realise how awful they can appear…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRqi0M_V9IM



Red carding a parent

davidscwnewHave you ever had to deal with a parent who was so aggressive you had to take him to one side and threaten to expel him and his child from your team?

This week I had to do exactly that. Two players in my team had been winding each other up in school, and although I knew they had history, there were never any problems that spilt over into the team… until one of the dads got involved, that is.

A relatively innocuous incident in training was enough to make the whole thing explode. John and Peter (not their real names) were on opposing teams in the small-sided game we were playing. The former had already scored two great goals – much to his watching dad’s delight. When he tried nutmegging Peter there was an untidy coming together, from which Peter emerged with the ball.

“No, no, no,” shouted his dad, “I’m not having that! Free kick! You should be keeping your eye on this ‘problem’”.

I reacted only by explaining it was a fair tackle. But then a similar incident followed soon afterwards, and this time it was a foul. Before I could stop play John’s dad was on the pitch pacing towards Peter. I had to intervene, calm him down and get him off the pitch. I’m not sure what would have happened had I not managed to keep his dad at arm’s length.

We got to the end of training with no further incidents, but when Peter’s dad came to pick him up, I told him there was friction and it would need to be sorted at some point.As for John’s dad, under no circumstances can I accept this sort of behaviour at my coaching sessions. I told him I would ban him if it happened again. He accepted he had crossed the line and has promised to remain calm in future.

John is a great player and an asset to the club but if I did ban his dad he is likely to leave. Yet it is in the best interests of the club to reprimand a parent if something like this happens. Under no circumstances can repeated aggressive parental behaviour be overlooked; it sets a ridiculous example.

In the end, the team is more important than the individual, even when – such as in this case – you’re talking about one of your best players.

Football is often about making tough decisions, but the best way to avoid them is to be open and upfront, and to nip stuff in the bud before it escalates. Now I’ve just got to get Peter and John getting on – wish me luck!