Wednesday, March 22, 2017



For players under 14 years old 

1. Declare war against the 11v11 game. The 11v11 game, should be replaced by another type of competition tailor-made for younger players. Games like mini-football (3v3 on four goals), 7v7 football, and 8v8 football (played between the regular pitch's penalty areas) offer the adequate frame (in terms of space, number of players, ball size and weight) for children to express their creativity and inspiration in a more healthy environment: an environment that does not contain the stress of the 11v11 game with its adult-oriented rules.

2. Use more games and fewer analytical exercises. Practicing should happen in a game context. Statements such as 'The game itself is the best teacher' must be rediscovered and considered in the planning of all training sessions where drills predominate. Children should be exposed to more game plays (global method) and less practice with the analytical method.

3. Let the kids play without correcting them permanently. When playing, it is not always necessary for young football players to know the specific learning objectives of a practice. The learning objectives are always important for the coach but not for the players. Players should frequently have the opportunity to just play, or play just for fun, without having any specific learning as a main objective. We should not forget that one essential part of the game is its unpredictability. This explains why the game is so fascinating for kids.

4. Children should have the chance to play in all positions and in reduced space. Young football players should have the opportunity to play in various positions in order to discover the roles and functions that these positions characterise. Experimenting with play in different positions stimulates creativity. For instance, 7- to 9-year old players could perform the many variations of the mini-football game (3v3 on four goals) instead of playing 7v7 football or 11v11; 10- and 11-year olds may participate in a 7v7 game instead of competing in the 11v11 match; and 12- to 14-years olds could play tournaments of 8v8 football instead of championships in 11v11. The problem of positional experimentation would be solved since a competition with fewer players, in a reduced space, stimulates creativity, while the full game, on a regular football pitch, only tires the young players physically and intellectually, limiting their creative play.

5. Only those who enjoy the game can be creative individuals. Each training session should include a great variety of games, not only football-specific ones. When children play, they should have fun and be excited by the game. If young players do not identify themselves with the game proposed by the coach, the  creative capacity will remain dormant. The more the players enjoy the game and the ball, the more that playing stimulates the development of a creative way of interpreting football.

6. The football environment is an enemy of a young player's creativity. Most of our young talent grows in an atmosphere that is noticeably hostile toward creativity. On most football fields young players are dominated by instructors, who allow relatively little freedom of movement and decision making: The opinions of young players are not taken into account. For the coach it is important to have everything under control, and, in the case of a player departing from the norms, the player is punished and called on to respect the coach's orders. Many coaches think for their players instead of stimulating them to think by themselves. Over the years, young football players are left in no doubt about the coach's instructions and play according to the information received but without putting in their proper thoughts and personal flair.When these young players reach the age of 15 or so, it is obvious that they will face serious problems if they are requested to make their own decisions, since, for many years, they have been trained to execute only what adults have told them.

7. More freedom during the play. When practicing or competing, coaches should not always punish the mistakes of their players, since this will restrict the players from taking risks and prevent their creativity, fantasy and imagination from flowing. 
In the training sessions more space or time should be allowed for players to experiment with new moves that occur to them spontaneously. A more informal environment - as seen when football is played on the street, the beach or in a park - helps to develop more creative players.

8. Dare to risk and improvise without fearing the consequences. Young players should not be pressured by their coach to quickly pass the ball in order to allow better team play and winning. Young players who treat the ball as their best friend and often do their own thing are frequently more creative than those who accept what the coach demands. They should be allowed to improvise their play and take risks without fearing the possible consequences of having committed a mistake or to have lost possession of the ball. That is why young players should practice and play as often as possible without the presence of coaches (in the street or in the park). A coach's absence allows the players to feel more comfortable, to explore their innate potential without the fear of getting criticised when committing mistakes.


Saturday, March 18, 2017



Coaching philosophy for development of young football players

Young players are the cornerstone of football. They are, and always will be, the future of the sport. Much more important than winning games is the acquisition of those values inherent in football: fair play, the urge to do better and the sportive spirit. Education, therefore, runs parallel to the technical instruction.
Whether young players choose football as a lifelong sport is determined to a high degree by the content of the training programme, the expertise and experience of the coaches, the social life in the club or school and the structure of the formative competitions.The art of developing effective training and competitive programmes for children lies in knowing which kind of practice and competition the player is ready for at any given stage of his or her physical and mental development. Children will learn quickly, effectively and thoroughly only when the demands of the training sessions or competitions they participate in match their intellectual, psychological and motor skills.

The concept of readiness (the disposition of a certain degree of maturity) is a prerequisite for any activity and one that should be applied in all aspects of teaching and learning. It must also be applied to children's sports activities. Coaches should ask, 'At what age is a child ready to successfully face the demands of an adult competition?' If officials were aware of the concept of readiness, children under 14 would never have been subjected to testing themselves in competitions for which they were not yet prepared. Children must be exposed to a gradual stimulation in training and to a series of progressive competitions that, over the years, allow them to advance step by step into the adult game.The art of coaching lies largely in knowing for what activity ( a technical move, a tactical behaviour or a complex competition) the player is prepared for at a particular stage of physical and mental development.
All to often, children are introduced to complex sport activities for which they are not yet physically and mentally ready. Expecting a child to comprehend and respond to the complex situations in the full 11v11 football game format will only beget frustration and feelings of failure.Therefore, in order to develop efficient training programme for young players, the coaches should take into account each young player's current physical and mental development. The programme should promote gradual development of correct technical, tactical, cognitive and physical capacities of the players.


The acquired bad habits from the early ages are the reason number one for a lack of progress in youth football.The perfect solution would be that the complicated adult game, that the children are exposed to, has to be simplified; a logical progression of competitions must be created, designed with increasing demands that adapt perfectly to the mental and physical abilities of individual children.Youngsters should be presented  with only those exercises, games and challenges that suit their current capacities, interests and expectations.Training models and competitions for children should be like their shoes: They should fit perfectly and feel comfortable. Instead of obliging the children to adapt to the game of football, we as coaches have to adapt the game to the children, thus resulting in better and more enjoyable learning of the complicated game.


In conclusion, the children should encounter training that is enjoyable, effective  and appropriate for their age as soon as they set foot on the pitch.This is the only way to develop healthy, happy, talented football players. Any attempt to rush the natural development of young football players or have them confront the demands of the full game too early has to be considered detrimental to their development and future performance.