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Are your players learning about playing forward? Then your challenge might be, “I’d like you to try to let the ball run across your body and play forward as much as you can.” Or, “try to look for the spaces that allow you to do this before you get the ball.” 


Support each challenge with a question that gets your players thinking about how to achieve success.  

For example, you might ask, “How can the pass you receive help you to play forward?” 

Offer the right guidance and challenges to support player development.

4. Get coaching

Use various methods for coaching young players, but let your group play the game too. Avoid stopping them every couple of minutes. And mix up your game formats, using 4v4, 6v6, 8v8, and more. 

5. Keep them on the right track 

When coaching young players, you must take care of their learning and progress in a multitude of ways.  

Guide. Praise. Remind. Support. Coach. Watch, Check. Help. Review. Re-focus. Reinforce. Challenge. Question. Model. Demonstrate. Instruct. Humour. Evaluate. Calm. Listen. Re-evaluate. Coax. Assess. Ask. Re-assess. Teach. Correct. Reassure. Tweak. Skilfully neglect. 

The list is endless. What would you add based on your own experience? 

Understand your players and get to know what they need to progress.

Give your players as much technical and tactical detail as they need to support their learning. Take the group’s age, ability, maturity and experience into account.  

Remember, the very youngest players won’t be concentrating on position-specific work in the 5-11 age range. 


Get your players to review their own learning during activities. Encourage them to weigh up their performance against the session focus. 

Plan in time to do this as often as you can. Self-evaluation might feel different to what you’re used to, but it’s a quick and simple process: 

  • Ask players to mark themselves out of ten against the session focus. 
  • Then ask them to think about improving their performance by one mark – how can they make a seven out of ten into an eight?
  • Play on for five more minutes, allowing players to make their improvements. 


8. Promote creativity

Creativity in football is imagination in action. It's about fresh ideas that have value. 

Encourage your group to develop original responses which suit them as individuals. When they know where their new ideas fit, get your players to experiment and practise with them.  

Not only will this help develop their skills, but it will also inspire a love of the game. And, ultimately, that’s what coaching young players is all about.