The English Disease
July 19, 2010 4 Comments
I spent part of yesterday afternoon watching an Under 11 tournament being run by my local youth club (who I used to play for) as I wanted to see what the standard was like for children in that age group.
You can probably picture the scene, a village recreation ground, an 11-a-side pitch, coaches & family surrounding the pitch, a BBQ on the go and more gazebos than you could shake a stick at.
Having watched for about 30 minutes I’d found it fairly easy to pinpoint one of the fundamental problems was with the development of our youth players – each player has at least three managers, and each manager is shouting a different instruction (usually at the same time!). Clearly, the managers are; 1. the actual manager, 2. the parent and 3. some other random person who takes an interest in the individual.
This just cannot be helpful or conducive to the successful development of young players. From discussing this today, it sounds like many good clubs & coaches are trying to help parents understand and get them bought in to the fact that they can be as unhelpful as they think they’re being helpful and there is evidence that this is a successful approach. However, it would be a fair assumption, I think, that this approach is in the minority.
The other problem I identified was a lack of comfort on the ball, both by the player and from the sidelines. Defenders in control of the ball were largely being told “boot it”, “get rid” or “get it up the pitch” by both team mates and people on the sideline. It is this rush, this pressure, that doesn’t help young players develop in to footballers who’re comfortable on the ball and who are happy to keep possession at the back. We seem to have a concern in England, something in our football DNA, which suggests that the last 1/3 of our pitch (that nearest our goal) is a danger zone even when our own team are in possession and a panic sets in which usually ends up in the ball being launched forward. This has to change.
I would have liked to have seen coaches, parents & players alike tell the young defenders to keep the ball, even if they lost it but let’s get them in to the right habits. Development first, winning second.
I heard some other shouts and instructions from the sideline which were as unhelpful as the next and I empathise with the good coaches out there, coaches who’re trying to develop players in the right way but once they move from the training ground to the football pitch their players are entering an arena which is productive and isn’t beneficial to their development.
Can you relate to this? Am I wrong? Tell me what you think in the comments section, I’d love to understand just how big a problem this is.
P.S If you found this interesting you might find this post interest too: http://www.adorefootball.com/social-aspects/does-the-result-matter-more-than-the-performance/