Are Coaches Letting Players Down?

toshI recently had the opportunity to meet Tosh Farrell at a coaching symposium. Tosh is full of energy, ideas, and knowledge about training and developing young players. Tosh is the former Head of International Football Development and Technical Coordinator at the English Premier Club Everton FC. One of the things that struck me the most was his statements about accountability. Tosh explained that he was about 28 years old, towards the end of his playing career, when he was training and a coach told him to “check his shoulders”. He said up to that point, he had never heard “check your shoulders” before. No one had ever told him to check for the defender’s positioning before he received the pass. It just goes to show that even in a football rich country like England, there are things that can be overlooked.

My take away from that is that there are far too many coaches who just show up and repeat the same old drills that populate the internet, coaching coarses, and DVDs. It’s easy to do a shooting or passing drill to work on technique, but we forget to focus on the details. That’s what seperates good players from great players, the attention to detail. The complexity of the drill is not what makes it a “good” drill. It’s the coaching involved and in combination with the drill that will have the most impact on player development.


As coaches, we need to stop focusing so much on getting the newest and coolest drills to impress players, parents, and other coaches. We need to focus on the details of technique and the application of that technique. It’s not good enough to just teach turning, but also take time to focus on the details of each turn and the application. As Tosh explained, he had been through thousands of passing and receiving drills, yet no coach had ever taken the time to focus on the detail and teach Tosh to “check your shoulders” before receiving a pass. Then take it a step further by adding a defender to the drill and then having the receiving player check for the defender.

The next time you think you need to come up with a new drill, focus instead on the details the kids need to know. Ensure that they have all the tools and knowledge to succeed at something as simple as receiving a pass. Don’t let them down, make sure you share all of your knowledge.