Knowing when to shut up?


The other night I’d been taking part in a training session with the side I play for and at the end of the session I decided to head over and watch a coach working with an U10/U11s team to see how he was working with the players and what kind of games he was using. As I watched, the first observation I made was the amount of time he spent talking to the players and whilst I was too far away to give an opinion on the content it started to get me thinking, “How does a coach know when to shut up?”.

If I hadn’t been on the FA Level 1 course recently I may not have given this a second thought but it reminded me about a guy on the course who our instructor had made a constant point of picking out because of his enthusiasm for talking. In one practice session he’d spent 10 of the allocated 15 minutes talking, leaving 5 minutes for football! The coach encouraged us to keep our content brief, relevant and make good use of Q&A.

So, as someone with little/no coaching experience to date I headed over to the footy4kids forum and asked them what they thought, whether they consciously chose to keep verbal communication to a minimum and what the general consensus was on this topic.

This is what they had to say:

  • Try to keep any instruction/description of the next game brief
  • Use demonstrations
  • Use visual aids, such as diagrams, if required
  • Make it two-way / interactive, ask the kids questions and allow them to ask questions back
  • If you need to stop a session to make a point then keep it brief, check understand and let them carry on
  • If you have a point to make give yourself time to think about what you want to say, this will reduce the chances of you rambling
  • If you need to talk to them for a longer period of time, this could be perfectly valid, so don’t limit time for the sake of it
  • And remember: people learn/understand in different ways, so sometimes you’ll need to instruct, demo and give a visual description to help people understand

As always, I’ve used this blog to answer my own question and shared the advice I’ve acquired in the hope it might be useful to others. And as always, if anyone thinks I’ve missed key points, or want to counter what I’ve written above then please share it with us.

P.S If you haven’t seen or registered at the footy4kids forum then I thoroughly recommend you do so, there’s some excellent advice and experience to tap in to.

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About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

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