Managing teams can be a rewarding task, but it takes much effort and preparation to ensure it is a rewarding, learning experience for all involved. Coaches need to think about how to prepare players and themselves for a game, how to support players in a game and understand how to review own contributions to a team.
Before a ball is even kicked, you need to ensure you have safe playing and training facilities including safe goalposts, changing facilities, first aid provision, kit and equipment and have undertaken a risk assessment. You should have clear policies on equal opportunities and mixed football. All players should be registered and parental consent given for under-16s
You should consider which format of the game is most suitable for the age of the team. For example, an Under-7s team should play on a pitch between a minimum 30x20 yards and 50x30 yards maximum, with a size 3 ball and a five-a-side or seven-a-side format. See the download for reference on older age recommendations.
When working with a team coaches need to consider what qualities exist within a great team, how the relationships work within that team and how to maximise the qualities of the individual players.
The FA is evolving its coach education to be player-centred around the four-corner model of learning and the theory of ‘Long Term Player Development’. The four corners cover learning from a technical, physiological, physical and social viewpoint.
Playes in your team may be at different stages of their development in each of these four corners and may respond better to different types of training. For example, some may prefer visual representation of tactics and gameplay, whereas others may prefer a teamtalk. Different types of coaching you may want to consider include:
Visual - use learning posters, cue and prompt cards, mental rehearsals, memory maps, visual aids, diagrams, labels, colours, shapes.
Auditory - use lots of paired and small group discussion, music and mnemonics, self talk, adding talking to doing (walking the talk).
Kinaesthetic - use physical run-throughs, spatial positioning, freeze frame, sequencing exercises, rehearsing positions, physical breaks.
It is your role to help players to learn the game, to maximise on their skills and to work as part of a team. It is important not to pressurise young people to win early in their development, but to teach values of hard work, optimism and willingness to develop. Parents play a big role in emphasising this.
The most influential people in terms of a child’s psychological and sociological development are his or her parents. A child’s beliefs, values, perceptions, attitudes and goals are shaped by their home influences. Interest and support from the home are vital in the child’s development
Parents help to create the right environment in which the young player can learn. By involving them, the coach can give parents a greater understanding of what you are trying to achieve, engage them in a three-way process as a powerful re-enforcers and they may see their child’s development as more than just football.
You can engage parents by running a parent’s evening, setting them tasks, running a buddy system and using questionnaires.