Engaging youth football players can be a difficult task for many coaches. A young players attention span can be very short, and if your sessions are not providing enough stimulation you will find it very hard to keep them on task.
Top coaches know how to engage youth football players throughout their sessions. This requires recognising when they seem to be losing concentration and using tactics to keep them on task. It also requires preparation before your session begins, planning how you will keep your players involved will benefit you and the players when you deliver the session.
To engage youth football players, you have to think about more than just encouraging your players. Good coaches think of what, when and how they give encouragement they also think of using different teaching styles for each player on their team, as each player learns in different ways.
Here I will share with you different approaches I have used, throughout my football sessions.
No Lines, No Laps, No Lectures.
To engage youth football players your sessions need to keep all the players involved throughout. This cannot be achieved if your sessions involve children standing in lines waiting for their turn or a practice which is controlled entirely by the coach.
Youth football players should at least have some ownership over what and how they learn within the session. They should also train within realistic situations throughout the session, from the warm up right until the small sided game. You can’t expect to keep each child engaged in the session if they have to wait long periods of time before they get to touch the ball, each player should be making decisions on when, where, why and how throughout the session.
Each session should include a variety of games throughout, you want the children to feel excited when they turn up to train. If the players don’t see the importance of your coaching, then you will see less of their creativity and they will eventually become disinterested with the session.
” Only those who attempt what they cannot do, will grow “
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Short, Concise Information.
When you give information to your players it needs to be less talking and more demonstrating. Listening to someone talk is less engaging than watching someone show what they want from the session, so try to keep what you have to say to a minimum and show no longer than 30 seconds long.
The kids learn best by playing the game with short chunks of information fed to them gradually as they play. Try to let the session flow as much as possible, you don’t want to disturb their enthusiasm for the game. Constantly stopping the session maybe getting your point across but you are also causing disruptions to the session which will eventually become an irritant.
The coach has many different ways he/she can get their point across. There are 3 main styles that coaches tend to use which are the following;
- Command style – This is where the coach makes all the decisions with little suggestions from the players.
- Casual Style – This is when the coach takes a very laid-back approach to coaching, saying and showing nothing to their players throughout the session.
- Cooperative style – The coach who implements this style, tend to share the decision-making progress with their players using frequent question & answer methods.
Each style has their pros and cons, but the more successful coaches tend to use a mixture of the last two with younger players. If you had to choose a style to go with, you are more likely to produce better players with using more of the cooperative style of coaching. Using a cooperative style of coaching helps the players take some ownership of the session, thus encouraging further engagement from the players. It also allows you to get your point across without having to bark information constantly from the sidelines, instead, you help players find the solution.
Engaging youth football players also requires the coach to give positive and constructive feedback to their players. Even from a young age, players need a positive push now and then to keep them on track.
It doesn’t take a lot to keep a player’s spirits up, sometimes all it needs is a little thumbs up from the coach or ” well done ” when they do a certain technique in a game. As a football coach, you are seen as the ‘leader’, and everyone tends to enjoy praise from their coach.
In my time as a coach, I have found that using humour is a great asset. You don’t have to be a comedian to get a smile from your players, but making the effort to make your players laugh now and then breaks things up nicely in the session. it also helps your players take in the detail you may be sending across to them a lot easier because it makes them want to listen more.
I believe a young players mood can be determined from the start of the session. When a player arrives and hears what they are going to do in the session can motivate or demotivate them. This is why it is important you give your planning some real thought, I choose to use game situation training (Match related scenarios) over drills (Waiting in lines & constantly being what to do). Young players get more excited when they are playing the game, so we should be doing more to make sure that they learn whilst playing the game.
” Only those who enjoy the game can be creative individuals “
Let’s Play the Game Ltd. is a provider of excellent personal and team football coaching in Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell, and Solihull. For those who would like to try our services don’t hesitate to contact us. Don’t forget to subscribe below to never miss any of our posts. You can also like our Facebook page or subscribe to our YouTube channel for more football coaching tips.
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