As a coach, you play an important role in helping players to develop as footballers – and people. Here are some simple ways to help make sure you’re setting a great example.
1. 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 Saturday morning rolls around, try to give your team equal playing time. No leaving subs on the bench or prioritising your best players.
2. Embrace mistakes as part of learning 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, if you build a supportive environment – one that recognises mistakes as an opportunity to learn – you’ll give your team space to thrive.
3. Think before you react 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, it’s important that you don’t let these stresses impact your interactions with players. Whenever you feel frustrated, press pause, take a breath and think before you react. Blowing up only sets a bad example, and it gives players an excuse to behave the same way too.
4. Have a coaching philosophy Whether it’s inspired by others or dreamt up solo, 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 help provide a consistently positive experience for your team. To find out more, click here.
5. Keep communication positive As your team’s coach, every interaction matters. Whether you’re providing feedback, celebrating a goal or arranging your next session – keep communication positive.
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.
Want to know more about how to support your team? Check out The FA Playmaker course – it’s free and For All.