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A group of teenage boys chase after the ball

 

Teenagers aren’t mini-adults, so avoid treating them that way. Young people in this age range are still developing. Their emotional responses are in the process of being formed. 

As a coach, it’s crucial to learn about working with teenagers and tailor your approach to the age and ability of your group.

 

The teenage years can be a time of dramatic change for young people, both physically and emotionally. Teenagers are trying to make sense of themselves and their body, especially when it comes to sport.  

Make empathy, understanding and support your priority. 

 

Very few players respond well to criticism, and this is never more the case than in the teenage years. Criticism can lead to highly negative reactions. And this can impact their enjoyment of the game. 

For positive responses from players, work with them one-on-one. And use effective coaching communication skills.

 

Provide support for teenagers during times of high stress. They might not have all the mechanisms to cope with their emotions.  

Be particularly sensitive when highlighting mistakes, or when you’re at emotionally charged events like a cup final. Try to manage your own behaviour and set an example for the players in your care.

 

5. Handle mistakes effectively

Create your own coaching process to help players manage their mistakes.  

What do you need to highlight? What can you let go or discuss afterwards? Always consider the impact you’ll have on both the player and the person.

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Get to know your players to work out how to give advice that will help them learn and develop from their mistakes.

6. Harness peer power

Young people are often tough on themselves. So are their peers. Some teenagers seek acceptance from their peers before parents or coaches.  

When planning football for teenagers, consider how you can use this to your advantage through teamwork and group activities. 
 

7. Allow for risk-taking 

Teenagers often take more risks, because they think the rewards are worth it.  

Gaining favour with their peers, coach, or parents is a strong motivator to take risks. Teenagers value social standing and kudos within a group, and risk-taking can feel like a way to achieve that.  
 

8. Consider players’ backgrounds

The function of football for teenagers can be hugely affected by their socio-economic background. 

Those from less fortunate beginnings might see the sport as a way out. Then, any criticism from a coach is seen as holding them back from their dream. So give constructive feedback in a way that challenges players but allows them to keep striving. 

9. Value technique over results

Results can be a negative trigger for teenagers playing football. Focus on the learning process instead.  

Why not challenge players to develop their technical excellence rather than solely focusing on the outcome of a game? As their technique and skills improve, the results will follow.