Have a coaching philosophy
Whether it’s inspired by others or part of your own ‘why’, a coaching philosophy represents your values in football. Maybe you want your team to play with freedom. Maybe you want to encourage development. Or maybe you just want to see smiles on faces.
Whatever your coaching philosophy, it’s got to be reflected in your actions. For example, if you believe in equal opportunity, don’t whack all your best players on the pitch the moment you go 1-0 down.
When you have a coaching philosophy – and stick to it – you provide a consistent and authentic experience for your team.
Design good sessions
At their core, your sessions must be realistic and relevant to football. This means giving players lots of different opportunities to practise the skills they need in an actual game.
In addition to realism, your training should:
By promoting clear aims, inclusion, variety and autonomy, you’ll help to support your team’s development.
Finally, don’t forget that training should be fun. For inspiration, check out our Human goalpost session.
Think before you act
Coaching can be an emotional business – especially during matchday. You’ve got parents pacing the touchline, the opposition breathing down your neck and your players stuck in the middle. Even during the relative calm of the week, pressures of everyday life can build up.
As a coach, try not to let these stresses impact your interactions with players. Whenever you feel frustrated, press pause, take a breath and think before you act. Blowing up only sets a bad example, and it gives players an excuse to behave the same way too.
We all get things wrong. When you make a mistake, own it. When others make a mistake, be kind.
It’s important to recognise that if players feel scared to fail, they’ll be worried about trying new things. They’ll play with less freedom, and you’ll see less creativity.
On the flip side, building an environment that recognises mistakes as an opportunity to learn will give your team space to thrive. So: encourage your players to adopt a positive mindset. Explain that any ‘FAIL’ is simply a ‘First Attempt In Learning’.
Provide equal opportunity
Football is for all. Whether you’re running a session or coaching on matchday, every player deserves the chance to be part of the action.
In training, focus on activities that include the whole group and give players the chance to experiment. For example, your keeper may be great in goal, but they might want to try outfield positions too.
When matchday rolls around, try to give your team equal playing time. No leaving subs on the bench or prioritising your best players.
It’s not just players who want to feel welcome. Parents, carers and volunteers should also feel like they're part of the team. Make sure you:
- recognise their contribution
- explain your coaching approach
- involve them in sessions and matches.
Doing this will help build a great environment for your players – one where everyone’s onboard.
Keep communication positive
As your team’s coach, every interaction matters. Keep communication positive – whether you’re providing feedback, celebrating a goal or arranging your next session.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have difficult conversations. But it does mean that, when you have them, it’s important to express yourself constructively. For example, if your team concede, don’t yell criticism from the dugout. Instead, use half-time to talk through what happened and create a plan for next time.
Remember that a throwaway comment or negative expression can stick with a player – even if it’s not aimed at them.
In this video, Peter Augustine, FA coach development officer, demonstrates how to deliver feedback that impacts the game and makes players feel great.