How to coach teenage football players
Do you work with teenagers? Want to plan for the season ahead? FA county coach developer Peter Augustine has eight top tips to make football for teenagers as enjoyable as it is productive.
1. Don’t treat them like adults
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.
2. Account for changes in body and mind
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.
3. Be careful with criticism
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.
4. Create a safe space
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.