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A coach talks to a player at the side of a pitch.

Off-field coaching and learning is any session, activity, or task that happens away from the pitch. This could include:

  • getting everyone in a classroom to talk about how things are going
  • showing them clips from matchday and sharing insight
  • a simple task for players to do at home.

But it doesn’t have to be football based. In fact, it’s good to get creative.

For instance, you could get players to play ‘Connect 4’. Then ask what lets their opponent win. The answer is leaving a gap – just like in football.

Insight to help you with off-field coaching and learning

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For grassroots players who might only train for an hour a week, off-field activities can help them improve.

For example, you could ask players to have a parent film them working on a skill. Perhaps one you’ve looked at in training that week. The more practice they get, the better they’ll become. They’ll also reflect on the development of their technical skills when watching the video. Plus, it engages parents and gives them an insight into your training focus.

Off-field tasks are also a great opportunity for players to take charge of their development. Is a player struggling with something? How about asking them to watch ‘Match of the Day’ or to go on YouTube to see how a professional footballer handles the same situation?

They can then share what they learned with the team. This approach means the responsibility for everything isn’t just on you. Players learn for themselves and from one another.

But remember, everyone’s home situation is different. Some players might not have a computer. And some may not have much help from family. So, show empathy and choose tasks that fit their circumstances. That way, everyone can join in.

Development isn’t just about football skills either. Activities that build good values, friendships, and team chemistry directly impact what happens on the pitch. Try watching a game together or having a team outing to strengthen these bonds.

Some clubs have access to video and GPS technology that lets you review what’s happened away from the pitch. If you have it, make the most of it. Show footage and ask players what they were seeing and feeling at that moment.

Even if your club doesn’t have the latest gadgets, a tablet or computer can be helpful for off-field coaching. Use it to go over data or show video clips to the players.

But don’t worry. You don't need fancy equipment to make a difference. A notepad and pen could be all that’s needed. And things like tactics boards, markers and cones can make off-field learning fun and effective. Get creative and make the most of what's available.

And think beyond traditional coaching. Many young players love playing football video games – and these can teach them about strategies and formations. So, why not use this to your advantage? Challenge your players to play a strategy in the game and then discuss how it affected their team and opposition.

Off-field coaching should help players get better on the pitch. Here are some techniques to make that happen.

Make it clear

Explain exactly how the tasks you give players to take away will help them in the game.

Matchday reminders

Set tasks for matchday, too. Design them to help players remember what they learned off-field.

Use metaphors

Connect football to everyday life. Want players to understand how to overcome a deep block, for instance? Ask them whether they’d sit in a traffic jam or go around it.

Instil values

Coaching isn’t just about skills. It’s also about values like respect and kindness. Encourage young players to be good people on and off the pitch by tasking them with good behaviour at school and elsewhere.


As a coach, you probably have limited time and lots to do. But don’t worry, planning off-field learning can actually make your job easier.

First, you don’t need to run a full off-field session. If you’re short on time, set a simple task for your players instead. For instance, you could ask them to give feedback on how a game went. They could make a couple of PowerPoint slides to show the team. Or simply tell everyone their main takeaways from the match.

And don’t be afraid to get creative. Take inspiration from the coach who asked a player who made a mistake to research the Japanese art form Kintsugi. This art involves fixing broken pottery with gold to make it even more beautiful.

The benefits? Your players will learn without adding to your workload. They'll improve their wider life skills too.

Coaching considerations

Things to remember when using off-field coaching and learning

A graphic showing five top tips to help coaches with off-field coaching and learning. Get parents involved from the start. Set off-field tasks that help players grow as people beyond football. Keep off-field coaching fun and simple. Encourage players to take charge of their learning and share insights with the team. Get creative with activities that are very different to the game.

Further learning

If you’re interested in this topic, check out these resources to learn more:

You can also take the key information from this article away with you by downloading this PDF.