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A young player in football uniform fist bumps a coach

The moment players arrive is so important. It’s a chance to build relationships and settle them into your environment. How you handle this time can set the tone for the session. So, greet everyone with a smile and make them feel welcome. 

Arrival activities are great to use, too. They get players active and help you connect before the session begins. As you explain the game, ask how your team are and find out what’s important to them. Remembering the names of their pets and who they support may sound like little things. But it shows them you care.  


If players return for your next session – or season – that’s a success. It indicates you’ve motivated them, and they’ve enjoyed and engaged with your coaching.  

To achieve this, it’s important to connect with your team. Find out what they need and how they like to work. Then, use this information to inform your interactions. For instance, you may discover some players prefer a demonstration of an activity before trying it. Or you could find out how and when they like to be challenged. This type of knowledge will help you think about how you can structure your sessions and apply the STEP framework more effectively.  

Remember, it isn’t easy to cater for everyone in every session. But, as long as you’re planning ahead, you can balance your team’s needs and wants over a longer period.  

Work with parents

While dealing with parents can be challenging, working with them has its benefits. This approach can aid player development and help with engagement levels. Here, Chris Lowe and Pete Sturgess explain why this is the case.  

When planning sessions, a lot of time is spent looking at the areas, conditions and equipment needed. That’s important, of course. But how often do you think about who plays with who? 

Engagement improves when coaches consider how and why teams are selected. For instance, you could increase motivation by pitting players against others of a similar level. This gives everyone a fair chance of experiencing success in an activity. You could also pair a player forging ahead with someone further behind in their development journey. This can help individuals learn how to support each other. 

Finally, you could also empower your team to decide who plays with who. After all, people participate in football for all sorts of reasons – and creating friendships is one of them. Allowing players to make selection decisions can go a long way to fulfilling this need.  

Give players ownership