How the right football environment creates skilful players
Want your sessions to motivate players and give them the skills to thrive? You’ll need to create the right coaching environment. Here’s how to do that.
Think back to when you were a kid at training. Do you remember standing in line waiting your turn? Hoping that the end-of-session match would come around fast?
Things could have been better. They could have been more fun.
Fun makes you motivated. And motivation keeps you interested. We’re trying to develop a generation of players that see the game differently. Players who are passionate. Players who are skilful.
It all starts with the right environment. As a coach, that’s down to you.
Here are some techniques to create a safe, fun, inclusive football environment that gets players coming back for more.
To master the ball and solve problems in games, players need to be creative. That only happens in an environment that values creativity.
To spark creativity, try asking your players to:
- hide and manoeuvre the ball in small spaces
- stay on the ball for as long as possible before passing
- receive the ball in position to play forward.
Communicate in a positive way
A friendly football coaching environment is one with positive communication.
At the heart of this is genuine praise. Spot a player staying on the ball for longer than usual? Tell them. It shows your team that you notice and value that action. It might even make them do it more often.
But don’t do all the talking. Ask your players for input too. When planning your next activity, ask how they would achieve the objective. This encourages your team to think of creative solutions.
Want your players to feel comfortable raising concerns and making suggestions? Let them know you’re willing to listen.
To create skilful players, start your sessions with an objective, rather than a topic.
An objective is a game problem like:
Get the ball over the halfway line as quickly as you can.
Then you leave your players to decide how to do it. Maybe they decide the best approach is to play out from the back with short passes. Each player contributes in their own way, practising what they’re good at.
A topic is a specific activity like:
Playing out from the back with short passes.
In this case, you’re telling your players how to get the ball over the halfway line. They’re not free to discover other possibilities.
Why do objectives create a better coaching environment? Because they create a more realistic football situation. When your players face that problem in a game, they’ll have already practised working it out themselves.
If your team is young or unaccustomed to freedom, start slow. Try putting three cones down and asking a player to make a square with the final cone. Then amp up the autonomy as they get more comfortable.