|parents conduct ::
This section help parents to ensure their children enjoy soccer and develop
their skills in a safe and supportive environment.
John Allpress, Football Association - England
"Develop the Person - Develop the Player
How easy it is to criticise from the sidelines. Instructions are easy to give
but not always that easy to follow, especially if the person giving out the
instructions is over 35 years old and the person receiving them is 11 or under.
Views of the world and frames of reference are totally different - a complete
mismatch. What is vitally important to one person may not even have occurred to
In football great emphasis is placed on the result as a measure of success.
Certainly for first teams and first team managers at every club it is the
points and the result that is paramount. But in development football, the
greater emphasis should be, but often is not, focussed on learning.
In development football some coaches play the game for the players by
constantly shouting instructions from the sideline, never letting the players
make the decisions or solve the problems the match presents. There one
principal reason for this - the coaches desire to cut down on players mistakes
so that their team will win the match.
Some parents too can fall into this trap. It is sometimes said that parents may
try to live out their ambitions through their children. Football in particular
seems to lend itself to this kind of behaviour, and it is especially true where
parents were under-achievers but now find that they are parenting a child with
the potential to make the grade. How often do we see dominate their child's
activities, almost to the point where the child rarely seems to have an
opportunity to have a say or make a decision either on or off the pitch?
Player development is all about problem solving and decision making because
player development is about learning, and learning is a long-term, some would
say life-long, process where decisions, mistakes and consequences are vital if
lessons are to be learnt.
A youth football match is a short-term event and simply part of this learning
process, a test in which the youngster can experiment and find out what he or
she currently knows and can do.
By constantly trying to make decisions and solve problems for the players,
coaches and parents are in fact disempowering them in favour of short-term
solutions with a short-term reward - a win!
When disempowered the players never learn to become self-reliant or trust
themselves because the coaches and parents obviously do not trust them.
Therefore they find it more difficult to make the right decisions and solve
their own problems both on and off the field. This is a major issue for player
development, as football from the grass roots up to the World Cup final is a
decision-making, problem solving game.
How can coaches and parents help and support player development more
The answers for the coach lie in the qualities required to be an effective
player developer, some of which are outlined below.
The ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances in a learning and development
situation and to remain positive and capable as you do
Assessing Learning Environments
The ability to make judgements about the learning environment you have created,
consider what good practice is within it and how this will impact, influence
and support the needs of the young players (i.e. are you catering for unique
individual learning styles and giving young players ownership, responsibility
The ability to strike up a positive rapport with, and communicate information
effectively to, young players using the most appropriate strategies and mediums
Identifying Development Needs
The ability to identify the development needs of individuals and groups and
plan appropriate activities and practice to meet and challenge those needs
Designing Learning Activities
The ability to design appropriate learning activities and creative practice as
part of a wider, long term development programme. This requires consideration
of the principles of the game and ensuring strategies are in place so that
these principles can be practices effectively i.e. creative use of space,
overloads, conditions, rules etc?
The ability to manage groups of different sizes and abilities and help and
support their learning effectively
The ability to use a range of strategies to support individuals and help them
towards greater understanding and improved technical performance
Add your own ideas
All children need to learn is that life is an on-going journey with no
pre-determined destination and that the only place that success comes before
work is in the dictionary. It is helpful, with coach and parent support, for
young players to set small, bite-size goals for themselves with a developmental
focus on trying to improve performance gradually and in small increments. If at
times progress is swift, accept it; reassess the goals and move on to the next
Many young players give up hope when they think they have failed. Failure is
often linked to a final result or to unrealistic coach or parental expectation.
Players, coaches and parents should understand that performance moves in upward
and downward cycles. During difficult periods players need support from parents
and coaches. Players also need patience and resolve, and should not expect
instant success or unjustified praise.
Young players need to learn how to organise themselves - easy tasks like
packing their kit bag and making sure equipment is clean and in working order
before training and matches. At training they need to be included in the
decision making process - sometimes coaches should let the players decide. They
can be asked to organise what size of area they should be working in for a
particular activity or what the make up of teams in training or practice should
be to achieve a particular outcome. All this provides young players with a
framework in which they are given respect, trust and responsibility.
Shown respect, trust and responsibility young players may begin to understand
that the game owes them nothing but a wonderful chance to go out and express
themselves in a challenging and creative way. If they appreciate this then they
may have a better chance of developing and evolving as players and people.
Football Association - England
Reprinted with permission from Inside Soccer
Dr. Javier Perez - Content Manager
European PhD, MPhil, MSc (Dist.), BSc (Hons) UEFA PRO Spain & UEFA A