Encouragement: The Underestimated Coaching Tool

Sunday 6th November – Wadham FC Under 7’s Match Review:

This match report is a bit late, but there were some key moments in the game that I have to share with fellow coaches.

I was asked to manage the Under 7’s team for that match as the Head Coach was away on holiday.

It was a great experience for me as a coach and I would encourage anyone who wants to be a coach to work with children of a young age at some stage. They remind you of the reasons why we all love football. They don’t take the result seriously; they just play to have fun. When I first joined Wadham, I was excited to be able to coach the parts of football that I was particularly interested in, such as tactics. But as I started to coach the under 7’s kids, I began to understand the theory that winning at that age group in particular is irrelevant.

Yes, I said IRRELEVANT. Losing should not be treated with any sort of annoyance, as this feeling will be carried down to the players, and over time, they will lose their passion for football. It was mentioned during my Level 1 Coaching Badge course that the result of the younger age groups games does not matter as much as player development.

I would go as far as to say that if you are more obsessed with your team winning than progressing as players, you need to rethink your coaching philosophy. You are not coaching elite players. You are not coaching a team where results will determine your job. Focus on encouragement and making sure the players have fun. I am not telling you to send your team out to lose, just make sure that the minimum you want from your players is to try their best and have fun.

Back to the match, I only had two subs, so I made sure I used the roll-on roll-off substitutes effectively. Giving tired players a rest, and also making sure every player had a fair amount of time on the pitch. The players were enjoying themselves, and I was constantly giving them encouragement and NO negative comments. The end result was 2-0 to my team, but that didn’t really bother me. I was just happy with the effort they put in.

At the end of the match, the players asked me who I thought was man of the match. I refrained from picking one person, telling the players that they were all man of the match because all of them tried their best. I encourage all coaches to do this. Picking out one person at that age tends to create a great feeling for one individual, but leaves the other players feeling like they didn’t play well.

Just remember, encouragement is a great tool for a coach to use during a match. Negative comments have NO benefits, especially to young children. If your player goes on a dribble and loses the ball, keep encouraging them to do the same. The only effect of berating the player is your player will be discouraged from attempting a dribble the next time.

Key Lesson: Encouragement is one of the best tools a coach can use during a match and coaching session. You don’t need to have the best tactical brain to use it. You don’t have to have the best coaching sessions in the world to use it. It’s there for every coach to use.

Negative comments have no positive effects on a young player.

Image from: http://everydayvenn.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/encouragement/


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