Tag Archives: Coaching Young Players


YSE:9: Developing Confident, Creative Soccer players through Positive Coaching with Jason Pratt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn episode 9 of the Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast, Jason Pratt from the Positive Coaching Alliance tells us how coaches and parents can develop more confident soccer players through the use of positive coaching. He also gives us a great tool (also known as Filling Emotional Tank) that can be found on his website that coaches can implement today to improve the positive environment within their team and start improving the confidence level of players.

Jason shares with us how Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a non profit organization is changing the coaching environment one coach at a time by introducing the tools and resources that are inadvertently being ignored by many coaching courses and educators. The PCA works with other clubs and teams to improve the culture and create Better Athletes and Better People.

Jason gives us a point of view that few coaches and parents think about during training sessions and game days. We dive deep into the player development process, the impact coaches have on players, and why coaches need to provide positive healthy environment to foster player development. Check out the PCA website at PositiveCoach.org to learn all about the Tools and Resources that PCA offers and to learn how your club can get involved with PCA (full disclosure, I am not being paid by PCA, but I do recognize the impact the organization is having on coaches).

You can go directly to the coaches “Tools” link here. 

Don’t forget to give us a 5 Star review on iTunes if you like the show.

Give us your feedback below or send us email at [email protected]



David Beckham’s early life and soccer development

David Beckham is one of the most recognized football players of all time. Although some will disagree about his talent on the field, there is no doubt that he could bend it like very few in the history of football. I decided to read the new book that recently came out, The Life and Career of David Beckham, by Tracey Savell Reavis, on his life. I was hoping to learn more about his soccer development growing up. From reading the book, I did get a good sense of why he became the David Beckham. Today I share what I learned from this book about Becks. I did reach out to the author to see if we could get just a little more information about the events of his childhood, but were unable to get her on the show, we are currently working on a time and date. The next best thing is to analyze what I learned from the book and discuss it for your entertainment and education. beckham

How it all started, the Environment and Parental Support
During the podcast we always discuss the environment and analyze how it impacted the development of players. David Beckham was no different. The book starts out discussing David’s background and where his ancestors came from. It was pretty interesting to learn about his ancestors, but that’s not the reason you are reading this article. The book then describes how young David started playing soccer. David’s father, Tim, played professionally in the lower divisions in England. He would go to training during the week and the young David Beckham would follow. At just 7 years old David would accompany his father to training, sometimes joining the team (yes the pro team for fun), and sometimes stayed after with dad to continue playing. His mother and father were both huge Manchester United fans. David’s grandfather was a Tottenham Hotspur fan. David also visited Wembley stadium and watched many professional games during his childhood. This created a great environment for David to develop and be nurtured. Like any other child, he imitated his parents and wanted to be like his father. “On many different occasions he has remarked on spending time in his family’s back garden, kicking a soccer ball with his father” The Life and Career of David Bekcham; Reavis, Tracey (2014), pg 6. “By the time he was seven years old, David Beckham already had years of football under his belt” (Reavis 2014, pg 5). However very few of those hours were from actual structured training, most of the hours spent were with his father and friends.



David recalls playing soccer with the neighbors and his father. He gives most of the credit of developing his free kick to his father. “When I wanted someone to kick a ball around with back in those days of dreaming, Dad was there, sometimes until it was so dark that we could hardly see each other. Mum would be worried because it would be 11 o’clock at night and we still weren’t home. But it was only because I still hadn’t practised my corners enough and I was begging him to stay on and be in goal for a few more. When I needed to be somewhere for a trial, a match or anything else connected with the game, Dad was there to make certain I made it in time. When I wanted advice he was there, although in the end he said it was up to me. With that kind of support behind me from the outset I have learnt to stand on my own two feet and not be afraid to make the right choices. Dad implanted so many of the best practices into me – keep improving, keep practising, keep your love of the game. And sign for Manchester United”. The Free Library, (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/WORLD+CUP+98%3a+I+only+ever+wanted+to+play+football+but.+.+.+I+never…-a060650935) As you can see, David had an exceptional environment around him. Although we can’t all be professional players and take our son or daughter with us to training, we can offer many of these things that David’s father offered. We can choose to stay after practice, or go in the backyard and practice our kicking. We can be there for our kids when they need to be at practice or at a game.


So how much does parental support matter with young kids. And when I say parental support, I don’t mean just going to games and yelling, but actually encouraging and taking part in the development. Playing with them, coaching them, learning with them, and supporting them. The author goes on to state “But it was David’s father who had the most influence in his early football development. The elder Beckham nurtured this talent by working with David and honing his skills hour after hour, night after night at Chase Lane Park” (Reavis, 2014, pg 7). The father later explained “I can’t say how much is down to me. I’am just part of a big cog that’s helped him to get where he is today. I was probably the big cog at the begining but there’s been other cogs since. We’d go over to the park all the time for a kick-around. I’d get one side of the goal and David the other and we’d try to chip the ball and hit the crossbar. Chipping in the park with his father helped him learn the technique. “He’s admirable, I mean he was willing to put in the time needed to develop what would be the most effective method. He practiced it, day after day, session after session, year after year. And he perfected it” (Reavis, 2014, pg 8).

Organized Soccer
David soon started playing organized soccer at about 8 years old. Joining a very small club in his community that was started by his father and a few other parents. They simply put an ad up in the newspaper and made a team, Ridgeway Rovers. His father and Coach Underwood started coaching the team. Coach Underwood is quoted in Reavis, 2014, stating that “David looked a professional from day one. Even at eight he could hit the ball from every corner of the pitch. his timing was incredible. He could strike the ball like a rocket – from any distance”. (Reavis, 2014, pg 10). What that tells me is that David was already good when he joined his first team, so it will be difficult for anyone to take credit for what he became, except his father. It was his father that introduced, maintained, and nurtured David’s love for the game. The book later discusses that the team, Ridgeway Rovers, won several cups and tournaments etc. which tells me that they had very good players to begin with since they started winning at a young age. The author later mentions that there were 4 other kids who went on to play professionally on David’s team.becks

David Beckham is known for his free kicks and good looks. On the field he was above average because of his passing accuracy. But when there was a free kick, there are very few that can do it better, ever. If free kicks were eliminated from soccer, David would still have been a very good player. He was not very good at 1 v 1, but he was an excellent passer. All those nights he spent with his father, chipping the ball and trying to hit the crossbar were hours and hours of practice. However it was just a game to young David. He didn’t realize that he was preparing himself to be a magnificent goal scorer from set pieces. This is the intrinsic learning that Ted Kroeten talks about in Episode one of the YSE Podcast. When you are having fun, you learn without thinking about it. David Beckham wanted to spend time and play with his dad, but he wound up becoming a legend.


This is a lesson for all parents, just go have fun with your child. In the end, you will win no matter the outcome. If they go on to be great football players, great, …. if not, then you still spent quality time with your son or daughter and that will have its own benefits.

If you would like to purchase the book The Life and Career of David Beckham: Football Legend, Cultural Icon , by
Tracey Savell Reavis, click on the link and it will take you to Amazon.com.


YSE Episode 3: How a soccer environment developed Pepe Perez


Summary: In Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast, Episode 3 Jose “Pepe” Perez takes us on his youth soccer development journey. He discusses how “Free Play” and the soccer environment in his home helped him excel without ever receiving “professional training”. Pepe never played on a travel/club soccer, and only played one year in High School, yet he has reached a level that few players get to experience.

How the love for the game was passed on to him by his father and siblings. His environment was “soccer”, he is thankful and credits this environment for his success.

Pepe shares what he would do today if he had a son and what development model he would implement to maximize the development.

Pepe tells us about the highs and lows in his young career and how he almost gave up on his dream of playing college soccer. He shares how he kept his dream alive by continuing to work hard and taking advantage of the opportunity when it was presented.


Lake Michigan College Soccer

Pepe’s email for questions or comments

Pepe is a perfect example of how critical “free play” is to children. As parents we jump ahead and attempt to make our children professionals before they learn to love the game. I can’t stress it enough, kids must first love the game before they want to get better. If you force them to grow up too fast, they will burn out. We have to remember that soccer is a GAME. It’s a game played by children and adults, and we as adults, parents, and coaches should not force them to play OUR game. The kids need to play THEIR game, and that is FREE PLAY, not deliberate practice or pressured competitions. Once the child learns to love the game, he/she will seek to improve on their own, and that’s when we can maximize their development when they come to us asking questions and are interested in the answers. This is the way the top players in the world developed and we need to stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

Remember, keep giving kids opportunities to play with different balls, different surfaces, barefoot, with shoes, and against different opponents, make it FUN! Futsal is always a fun way to get kids playing.

Any feedback, questions, comments are appreciated at




Soccer Player Development vs Soccer Coaching

What is the difference between Player Development and Coaching Soccer? There is a huge difference and every soccer parent needs to know.

A good soccer coach is not necessarily a good soccer player developer. A good soccer coach may have a lot of knowledge about tactics and how to improve team performance. The coach may also have experience in playing different formations and positions. All of this knowledge has to be transferred over to the players soccer-ball-on-the-field-100184840so they can function as individuals on a team and perform well. The soccer coach is more concerned with team performance and outcomes. The coach may win a lot of games under that system and the players may perform really well. That is the sign of a good coach. He/she gets the most out of the players. In order to be able to successfully coach players, they need to be developed.

Player Development is similar to coaching and it’s the reason why the two are used synonymously. When working on Player Development, the goal is to get players prepared to play in a system or prepared to be coached. Although the Player Development phase starts out at a young age, it continues throughout their childhood and into their early adult life. The process is very long and it’s key to understanding player development. A coach can also improve player development during coaching, both tactically and individually.

The problem we face as parents is when we get coaches who want to coach at such young ages. Some coaches will attempt to teach tactics to very young kids that are not prepared to be “coached”. I have seen coaches on numerous occasions trying to teach a diagnol run to a 6 year old. The young child has never been interested in any of those tactics. At that young age, kids just want to kick the ball.child-soccer-player-100226365

Everyone can be a great player developer, it’s easy. We have to let nature take its course, and allow kids to be kids. Don’t teach young soccer players tactics when they are not prepared, instead invest your time and energy on player development. The young soccer player must first develop as a player before they can learn, execute, and/or understand tactics. I still see 12 – 14 year old kids who have been playing soccer for 6-8 years and they still can’t learn tactics because they have yet to develop their fundamentals. What this tells me is that their development process was broken. They started learning tactics at a very young age and they skipped the development phase.

To avoid this problem, make sure you know what you want to accomplish whenever you put your child into a class, team, or academy. The first thing you should be concerned with is to develop the player. This means you have to ignore goals and game scores. It doesn’t help if your son/daughter’s team wins every game and all you are working on is tactics. At some point the rest of the kids that are developing appropriately will catch up because they will understand and execute tactics better.

You will need a “good coach” when the child gets older and ready to learn about tactics. The most important thing during the development phase is to have a trainer/coach who understands development and is only concerned with individual progress, not wins or losses. The coach/trainer should have a healthy nurturing soccer environment. He/she should always be positive with the kids, always encouraging and challenging the kids to improve as individuals. The “team” concept won’t matter to kids until they get older, so don’t hammer this into them. It’s part of nature, kids are born selfish, and they only think about themselves until they get older.

If you are interested in learning more about soccer player development, you can listen to our Free Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast where we interview professional players about their development, or purchase my friend Mark Burke’s ebook, A Different Kind of Soccer Book. In this book, Mark (who played professionally for Aston Villa in the English Premier) goes into detail about training and development for young kids.

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator


5 tips to train a toddler in soccer

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

Coaching a toddler in soccer is very simple, but yet so many people get it wrong. Remember that kids at that age barely have any coordination and are just starting to learn to maneuver their bodies.
Tip #1 Understand the natural process of development
The object of the game is to make them fall in love with soccer and make them want to play. What I teach parents is to understand two things here. Reinforcement and Pairing. In Behavior Analysis, Positive Reinforcement is described as “The presentation of a stimulus that increases the future likelihood that a behavior will occur. It is important to note that “positive” does not necessarily mean “good” or “desirable”. Examples of positive reinforcement: 1) Giving a child a high five after they kick or dribble the ball increases the odds that they will want to kick or dribble the ball again next time”. (www.behaviorbabe.com). We do this all the time with kids, it’s the reason that they model us so much, they get praised. The second factor is “Pairing”, that is described as “The process of creating (or re-creating) an enjoyable, reinforcing, and pleasurable relationship between parent and child, where the child comes to view the parent as not just the giver of reinforcement, but as actual reinforcement”.
Behavior Analysis is my field of study, so it may be a little confusing. What these two definitions tell us about behavior is that in order for a child to “learn” to love the game, they must first receive some type of reinforcement from the activity (they must feel good when they kick the ball). Parents can provide positive reinforcement by giving a high five, cheering for them, and/or telling them how great they did (remember we are talking about toddlers, so everything they do must be the greatest of all time!). The child will then begin to PAIR the two, playing Soccer with dad is Fun.
Tip #2 Don’t force the Toddler to play soccer!
Never force your toddler to play. This can go very bad as the child could learn to distinguish Soccer with punishment. Wait for the right time. Remember that punishment will reduce behavior. The last thing we want is to reduce the toddler’s behavior of playing soccer or have a bad experience. During my consulting with parents and with my own kids, I have witnessed times when kids just don’t want to play, regardless of how much the game may mean to the parent or teammates.
Tip #3 Soccer Environment
To combat a child that doesn’t want to play, you need to set up an environment that can nurture soccer players. For example, buy a few soccer balls and leave them throughout the home. You can kick a ball around or just dribble and act like it’s a lot of fun. The child at some point will want to join and see what all the fuss is about. Why is the parent having so much fun? And they will want to feel that same Reinforcement. You can also watch soccer on TV or friends or relatives that play. The point is to demonstrate to the child that soccer can be fun, so that the toddler can try playing soccer. Once the toddler starts or wants to try soccer, that is your opportunity to use all of your reinforcement energy and provide the toddler with lots of praise, high fives, and cheering whenever he/she does anything remotely close to what could be considered soccer. You must make this enjoyable for the toddler so that he can start pairing soccer with Fun!
Tip #4
You can buy something inexpensive that the child may like. For example, my youngest daughter wanted a pair of indoor shoes like her older sister when she was 4. She said she wanted them to play indoor soccer just like her older sister. Of course we bought them because it was a minimal investment for another opportunity to create some positive reinforcement (Buy the shoes, she wants to play). But parents can use anything to create this positive reinforcement. One time it was a little soccer bouncy ball that cost a quarter. Again, what you are trying to do is create that environment and reinforcement that involvement with soccer is good and you approve of it. In general, kids search for the approval of their parents, so if you approve them being around and involved with soccer, the kids will appreciate that.
Tip #5
There is no need for structure at this age. Let them play wherever, whenever they want. And sometimes in the middle of playing soccer, they may want to play volleyball or basketball and start dribbling. As long as they continue to be engaged with the ball is all that matters. Eventually they return to kicking it, because it’s the easiest thing to do. You can model by dribbling the ball yourself or kicking it, just don’t make the child upset. We want them to enjoy playing with the ball. So dribbling with the hands is better than nothing at this age. Remember we are trying to increase their creativity, coordination, and love for the ball. Please do not get obsessed with technique at this time, they will have plenty of time to work on that when they gain some type of coordination. But you definitely want to reinforce when they do use proper technique. For example “hey that was a great job using the inside part of your foot” or “nice, with the laces”. It’s all about Fun!


How to coach U5 Soccer Players and Team

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

There are many soccer organizations throughout the United States that want to contribute to the soccer player development of young players. The issue that comes up is when trying to identify coaches for these teams. 99.9% of the time, a parent volunteer is thrown into this role because they want to help. The organizations are non-profit the majority of the time and have very few resources to pay a professional or trained coach. This is not a very big problem when dealing with U5 or U6 teams. Our problem in the US is that parents think that a 45 minute training is sufficient for kids to improve.
The other issue is that parents think that if a U5 player doesn’t have a professional coach, they are not going to make it.
The quicker a parent accepts and understands that soccer player development is a process that takes over 10,000 hours, the better off that child will be. At early ages, from 2, 3, 4, or 5 years old, the children need to “play” with the ball. Not necessarily play soccer, but just play with the ball. It’s ok if a 2 year old picks up the ball with their hand, they are trying to get a feel for it. The plan is to help each child fall in love with the ball and WANT to play with it. If they ask to kick the ball with them, go do it. You don’t need to hire a personal trainer or coach for this, just go out and kick the ball with them. If they want you to play Goalie, be the best, weirdest, coolest, goalie of all time. Just make the child connect kicking a ball with fun. This is called “PAIRING” in behavior analysis and it basically means that the child has paired fun with the environment you create. You can read more about Pairing HERE.

kidwithball Once the child has paired kicking the ball around with having fun with you (or friends), you have established Pairing. This now means that the child will be reinforced (or enjoy) by playing soccer. This achievement will bring about many other reinforcers to the development of the child. But for now the most important thing is that your child now loves soccer and WANTS to play. If your child is under 5, there is no need for long hours of structured play, just plain backyard kicking the ball around is perfectly fine. Once they do join a structured team or league, there is no need to obsess over the structure. For example there is no need to complain that the coach “doesn’t know what he’s doing” because he doesn’t have any good drills. The best thing you can do is to keep the child engaged in playing in a game that is somewhat related to soccer. So if they are kicking, punting, dribbling, or juggling the ball, that is good enough for that age, as long as they are having fun.
I recommend that you have a few drills with one ball per child. You can make it up as you go or just search for dribbling soccer games. You can have all the kids dribble to the moon and back, dribble between cones, under or around parents, with cones on their heads, through the goals, or just to the line and back. The most technical aspect to focus on here is the ball and the player. Each player should make an attempt to keep the ball as close to them as possible. That’s all you have to worry about! But too many parents and coaches will spend HOURS talking to a 5 year old about forwards and midfielders and making runs and clearing the ball, etc. That is completely unnecessary since the child still has to learn how to dribble before any of that even makes sense.
So don’t waste your time with downloading passing and shooting drills for U5 or U6 players. None of that matter until a child can learn how to dribble. This will take time, so be ready to spend the next 3-4 years. Remember this is a process and there is no single drill or coach that can teach a 4-5 year old how to dribble in one day.
• The keys to remember about coaching U5 or U6 players is that they are all selfish, so they want the ball, ALL the time! That’s why you are not going to teach them to pass right now, they don’t want to do it and they don’t want to learn.
• Parents and coaches should focus on Pairing. Make sure the kids are associating soccer with fun. To do this you must pair soccer with fun. Anytime they are at the soccer field or playing with a ball, it should be fun. So if the child doesn’t want to play, don’t make them because that’s not fun. You need to go back to square one. The child should be asking you to play, not you asking the child to go play.
• You don’t have to teach them everything today. In the next 3-4 years, they will learn to dribble, pass, receive, shoot, and LOVE the game.
• The kids should be playing at home and outside of FORMAL training. So don’t expect players to reach their max potential if they are not playing outside of formal training hours. The child must love soccer so much that they ask you to play, they ask their friends to play, and they enjoy playing with anyone.
• Remember that as a coach, even if you have no clue about coaching, as long as they kids continue to love soccer after the season and want more, you have done your job. Because it means that they will continue getting better in the next 15 Years!!! That’s how important those first years are. They must establish Soccer/Football as a game that they love to play.

“Pairing” – The process of creating (or re-creating) an enjoyable, reinforcing, and pleasurable relationship between therapist and child, where the child comes to view the therapist as not just the giver of reinforcement, but as actual reinforcement. (www.IloveAba.com)


Youth Football (Soccer) Development Model with Horst Wein

Horst Wein is internationally renowned for his Football (soccer) development model. His insight into youth development and how training should be applied is simple, yet unique. He has worked in over 51 countries and with some of the top clubs in the world including Arsenal, Barcelona and Juventus, to name but a few. His coaching philosophy and training programs are used by Italy, Germany, and Spain among others. He has written numerous books on youth soccer drills, coaching, and development.

He discusses how soccer should be played with the mind first, then your feet. How yelling on the sidelines decreases creativity as the kids are doing what the coach says, and not making their own decisions. How the 11 v 11 game was made for adults, not kids. In just 40 minutes, Horst Wein, will make you rethink your coaching philosophy. He is known as the “coach of coaches” for a reason.

Leave a comment at the bottom and tell me what you think after watching the videos. I understand it’s an older video, but it’s very relevant today.

For further coaching education, visit Amazon and get his books. I recommend his Youth Football Development Model book for newer coaches. For advanced coaches, I recommend the Game Intelligence book.


5 Important Lessons From AC Milan’s Youth Soccer Development Academy

For anyone interested in knowing some of the factors involved in youth soccer development, this is a must see. Rarely do we get an opportunity to get up close and personal to these international programs. Here are 5 important lessons from AC Milan that we can all agree on.
#1 AC Milan philosophy: Fabio Grasi explains that the club’s philosophy on youth soccer development is that “you cannot become a good player if you are not a decent person”. That’s not only a great coaching philosophy, but also a great parenting philosophy. There’s no way any parent would not agree with this philosophy. It also demonstrates that the club is not only concerned about their player development, but also about their future. AC Milan’s approach is to get kids to “grow as players and humans, because if you are disciplined in soccer, you will be discipline in life”.
He also explains that they don’t just care about technical abilities of the children and developing those, but they also care about the kids and their growth as soccer players.

How to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

Want to Maximize Player Development as a player, parent, coach, and administrator

#2 Teach Respect: How does AC Milan reach this goal? Teach the kids about sharing spaces, respecting their teammates, the training equipment, and the opponents. They want the kids to build true friendships and trust each other. At the same time the trainer talks about building a relationship with the kids and getting the kids to trust him.
#3 Recruitment and Retention: The club admits that they scout for youth, which allows them to get motivated, elite athletes into their system, which helps with their youth soccer development.
Once a youth player is selected, they must spend an extra 15 minutes extra a day in their technical training program for about “3 years on average”. After those 3 years, the club will reevaluate the player.
#4 Create a Support System: The psychologist talks about creating a safe, healthy, and ideal environment for the kids to train and optimize development.
The kids that are interviewed explain that they must follow rules and get good grades. If they are failing, they have a counselor that works with the families. Additionally the club’s counselor also helps the families with social and economic issues.
#5 Coaches invested in Player Development: One player states that his coaches have “helped me grow as a player and person”. He explains that if he has friends on the field, they will trust each other and support him.
Fillipo Inzhagi was a great goal scorer for AC Milan and Italy as a player, but as a coach, he explains that he’s there to help kids reach their dream. He wants them to get to the field smiling and leave smiling. It’s about educating the kids about soccer. He explains that he scores goals today by helping the kids grow and mature. He explains that it will help them in their jobs and careers, whether it’s soccer or something else. Winning at AC Milan is giving your best effort.

Email me if you have any questions


How to Train Youth Soccer Indoors

This is a video of 7 year old Mayeli. She is allowed to practice inside her home during the Winter. She understands that she is only allowed to dribble the ball indoors. As a result, her dribbling has improved tremendously. In other countries, the kids get out of school and go outside to play with their friends, every single day, it’s what Ronaldo, Messi, and Van Persie did, so in order for us to keep up, we have to train indoors.

Dribbling indoors can help train youth soccer players, from the Toddler to the U18 player. Here are a few tricks to training indoors.

1. I recommend that you visit YouTube and search for a few easy dribbling lessons for your child. Notice the word EASY, nothing too fancy.

2. Introduce one or two to your child and let them decide which one they like and which one they want to learn.

3. Supervise them and encourage them to get better at it. I do this by acting like I get faked out. For example the “Pull Back” move, she holds the ball and I go after it, she pulls it back and is excited to know that I missed the ball completely and she “faked me out”. This is a great way to spend time with your child and they are practicing without even knowing it.

4. If you see the move being done in a professional game or during a match by older players, point that out and get excited, your son or daughter will want to see that same reaction from you when they do it.

You can do this with any skill. Your kids love spending time with you and they enjoy encouragement from their parents and coaches. They seek that approval from their elders. None of this costs any money. Anyone can do this. That’s why I say that you don’t need a special trainer or a special camp, you need to get involved with your children! Mayeli is using a Futsal ball for indoors so it’s smaller in size and has a lower bounce. You can get your own at soccer.com or click on the sidebar.

Here is another video that you may like

Let me know if you have additional suggestions or what has worked for you in the past. Leave a comment below or send me an email Thanks for reading.


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.