Why I want to improve the development of young footballers in England?

For a numbers of years now I’ve been moaning and complaining about the quality of football we play at an international level and how, quite clearly, our coaches are getting it wrong at a grassroots level. Without knowing it, this began to irritate me more and more as international tournaments came and went, and England flattered to deceive on every occasion; this is what fuelled my desire to get in to coaching.

I thought it’d be valuable to log what problems I think I’m going to help solve, how I think I’m going to solve them and record my football ethos (as it stands currently) and then be able to come back to this in the future. A reference point if you will, to see if my football and coaching values change over time.

So, what are my beliefs and ethos?

  • Young players today need to spend a lot more time developing their technical ability
  • Coaches need to find ways to develop the technique of young children and find practical ways to develop skills
  • Passing, control and an ability to use both feet are core skills for any player and must be improved at all levels across England / Britain
  • The need to develop must be higher than the need to win
  • Retaining possession, which often requires a player to pass backwards, should be seen as a positive, not a negative
  • The FA’s desire to have children playing Small-Sided-Games (SSGs) must continue, and the senior game must also see more training focussed on these types of sessions.
  • We must start developing players who are less rigid in their positions
  • Football is a passing game, and teams who pass the ball the best often have the greatest success
  • Success on a football pitch is equally about preparation, players and systems – these are the three pillars of success for any team

 Those are some of my views and beliefs on the way we currently develop and play the game in England, but I expect these to change. Coaching will provide me with a completely different perspective on the game of football and I expect to be continuously changing my beliefs and ethos as I develop and gain further experience.

Keeping possession of the football has, historically, been seen as a negative way to play the game but more and more teams are showing that possession, at pace, is the most beautiful form of the game and many of the most successful teams in the world are masters of keeping possession – in Britain, we need to change our mentality to align with this fact.


About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

6 Responses to Why I want to improve the development of young footballers in England?

  1. Spurros says:

    This is getting scary – again, this post is almost exactly what I am doing. Amongst my youth coaching notes are a list of coaching philosopys very similar to the ones you have identified here.

  2. Simon says:

    What are the differences? Be interested to know…

  3. Spurros says:

    No real differences to be honest, a lot are almost the same, except worded differently.

    Some of mine include –

    – Young players need freedom to develop as creative players, by being encouraged to try skills without fear of failure
    – Emphasis is not on winning, it is about learning to control the ball and develop your individual football skills and confidence, while having fun.
    – At youth level, you are not a striker, you are not a defender, and you are not a winger – you are a footballer. Every player should be developing the fundamental building blocks of technique and ball control.

    • Simon says:

      I really like the concept of the bottom one and it seems to be a shared view judging by forums/articles etc. However, I guess as a kid I was a striker and only wanted to play as a striker so I’m not sure how open I’d have been to playing in various positions, but maybe that’s the coaches job to sell the benefits (or bribe with sweets!).

  4. A Dutch coach (Cor van Dijk) told me a couple of years ago that “Youth football is an INDIVIDUAL game”. In other words, young players have to learn to master the ball and their bodies before they can combine with others.
    Typically, young children are naturally selfish and find it difficult to share toys with others. In youth soccer coaching then, the ability to provide games and practices where players can have a ball each sits well with where they are in their development as well as being essential if they are to learn to love and eventually master the ball.
    I am also aware that John Cartwright believes the game of football also to be an individual sport where players combine, when necessary, to beat an opponent.
    Interesting views I think.
    Please visit my own blog for some thoughts on the development of young players and for some explanations as to some technical and philosophical approaches to creating appropriate and challenging practices / games.

    • Simon says:

      Hi Steve – I’ll certainly take a look at your blog (I’ve got a bunch to read!). I’ve also added it to my blogroll.


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