Grassroots coach James Coyne explains how positive coaching is helping his U14s team

James Coyne is one of hundreds of grassroots coaches benefiting from our 21 Days of Positivity initiative. The programme provides tips, tasks and take-home messages to help cultivate a positive environment. Coyne coaches an U14 Futsal team in Leicestershire. Here, he explains the impact it's had on both him and his team.

Monday 16 Dec 2019
The Mountsorrel Tigers U14 Futsal team pictured after an appearance at St. George's Park under coach James Coyne

Before receiving the 21 Days of Positivity programme, which runs over three weeks, I tended to just focus on the things my players could do better. This naturally resulted in a lot of coaching corrections.

Like many coaches, I was trying to help my players improve by pointing out what I was seeing as wrong and fixing it. The training materials focused on prioritising not just education but enjoyment, and I soon realised that telling players what they could do better might be construed as negative. Of course, all coaches want to improve their squad, but now I use more positive words when doing so.

The age group I work with can be particularly challenging. Young teenagers have a lot on their minds and can be easily influenced by all kinds of factors off the field, or in our case the Futsal hall. As a grassroots coach, you don’t get much time with them away from games so it’s important for them to feel like playing football is a safe and fun space.

I really appreciated the guidance from the FA. It's very easy to just say you’re going to be positive as a coach, but having a structure to implement this mindset in a practical sense is helpful.

My team are called the Mountsorrel Tigers and we compete in the Leicestershire Youth Futsal League. Plenty of the boys play 11-a-side regular football, too.

21 Days of Positivity has certainly helped me mature as a coach. Futsal is fast-paced, and we bring nine players to every fixture. We play four and rotate four, meaning half my team are on the bench with me at any given time.

The Mountsorrel Tigers players take a look at their tactics

They tend to mirror what I am doing and saying, so it’s important I set a positive example. Their voices then reflect my message and are arguably even more powerful because getting encouragement from your peers often carries more weight.

To date, we have reached one Futsal regional final and one cup final – both in 2016. Sadly, we lost both, but 21 Days of Positivity encourages coaches and players to enjoy playing regardless of the result. I think success, at our level, is about staying positive and not about how many trophies you have, and defeats can be a brilliant learning experience.

I hope my players stick with Futsal as they grow up and maybe also go on to play in the National Futsal Series or National Futsal League. And, who knows, we just might unearth the next Max Kilman here at Mountsorrel. He started in Futsal and is currently doing really well at Wolves. Or we may even get the next Marc Birkett, one of Europe's top Futsal referees or even the next Mike Skubala, England's Futsal head coach.

The Mountsorrel Tigers U14s squad who work under coach James Coyne

Being based in Leicestershire, we're also inspired by Leicester City’s Premier League win in 2015-16 and the side are on a fantastic run of form right now, too. I'm a season ticket holder and I think it’s clear how a happy dressing room and positive environment has benefited Leicester.

To be honest, my players probably don’t know Jamie Vardy’s non-League backstory, nor do many of the boys go down to the Walkers Stadium. They're really more focused on playing Futsal and FIFA, but it obviously doesn’t hurt to have an inspiring football team on your back doorstep.

It’s just another reminder of where having a positive attitude and applying yourself can get you.

By James Coyne Grassroots coach