For any coach who is working with young players, it is crucial that they appreciate that their players are not miniature adults and understand exactly how they differ.
Children will participate in football because of the following reasons:

•Pressure – from parents, friends and family, it may not be their choice but one made for them.
•Role models – they may wish to emulate their role models, who usually happen to be the most popular one or their favourite in the team they support.
•Enjoyment – children see it looks fun, have fun doing it, so keep participating. Never forget or over look this one, as it is a vital component.
•Social – To make friends and meet new people.
•Exercise – Football is a good form of enjoyable exercise.
•Success – In it to win it, however these players should not forget the other reasons why some participate, or they may ruin it for them. Need to be surrounded by likewise individuals and also kept in check.
•Belonging – To feel part of a team or group.
•Boredom – They may have nothing else available to them.

One way children and adults are similar is how they judge success, however as a coach you should be aware of which measurements are more important to the long term development of the player. Measures of success include:

•Increased ability – improving as a player.
•Pride – feeling proud in how they perform.
•Pleasing others – especially their parents
•Surpassing their own limits – overcome the obstacles they would normally have failed at.
•Needed by others – to feel wanted and needed by team mates, adds to pride and self value.
•Winning over people – overcoming people’s expectations of them.
•Personal achievement – winning games, leagues, trophies and awards.
•Enjoyment – if they are having fun then they feel successful.

The way they view and measure success can then be converted into the goals they have. Some of the common goals aimed for by children include:

•Demonstrate ability
•Task mastery
•Social approval
•Break barriers
•Team work

Not achieving their goal or not experiencing what they view as success are just two reasons why children may decide to withdraw from participation, other reasons include:

•Transfer of interests – especially seen with teenagers
•Withdrawal of pressure – the pressure they experienced to force them into it is no longer present, allows them to withdraw.
•Coach behaviour – believe it or not, the attitude and behaviour of the coach has a large effect on players and their own behaviour. Should they fall out with or be put off playing by their coach then they may withdraw completely.
•Friends – their friends do not play or are no longer playing, so they stop. Their friends have moved into better standards and they are unable to follow.
•Perception of ability – feel they are not good enough, although they will always find a standard appropriate for their level of ability.
•Realism – they realise they will never emulate their heroes so decide against playing all together. Suffers of the ‘all or nothing’ syndrome.


One response to “Coaching Children”

  1. David says:

    Good points to bring to the table. Just had a club meeting last night and had to disagree with the U13 coach who has the typical I’ve been doing this for so long and must win attitude. Talk about missing the mark! Anyway, love the website and all the experience that is shared to train the children with. Oh yeah, at the end of the day that’s who it’s about anyway!!

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