The key when it comes to the development of child footballers undoubtedly involved regular and quality coaching sessions, which are designed to maximise both enjoyment and learning. On-pitch skills such as ball control and passing are generally developed at a relatively early age, meaning that the pressure is on coaches to deliver the correct form of training sessions.
However, with concentration and motivation often being problematic for youth coaches, there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration when creating drills.
Create a Supportive Environment
Children, more than anyone else, learn best through trial and error. As a result, setting up coaching sessions that allow for small mistakes to be made is a sure-fire method of enhancing development, as well as keeping kids engaged. However, coaches must ensure that they provide understanding and support during such sessions, while patience is also essential. Ensure that players are not afraid to make mistakes, which will in turn maintain their focus and motivation.
Emphasise Learning Over Winning
Many children lose motivation, and potentially even their love for football, at an early age due to the significant pressure in which they are under. As a result, coaches should look to focus upon development, rather than winning, in all areas of their training. Football must be fun at all times, otherwise kids will not wish to commit their free time to playing. With many facing pressure from other sources, including parents and teammates, it is hugely important to create an environment where learning is at the forefront.
Cater for all Skill Sets
While there is a temptation for any coach to focus upon the most talented youngsters within a group, it is vital that training sessions are aimed at a range of abilities, thus ensuring that all players remain motivated to improve their games. Ensure that those who need individual tutoring regarding a specific skill, whether it be passing, first touch or shooting, get it. Whether this means splitting a group of players into groups based on their skill or taking players aside, this is a crucial factor to consider for any coach.
Whether it be positive or negative, it is important that coaches deliver some form of feedback surrounding their ideas and requirements. Doing so with compassion and understanding is also of key importance when it comes to dealing with children, especially when negative issues are being discussed. For example, when discussing how a player can improve upon their ball control, state how this will offer them more time to do what they want with the ball. On a similar note, it is also vital to publicly praise players when they do something well, which will motivate children more than anyone else.
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