A league table changes everything

Our under 9s are playing their first season in “league football” and I’ve observed an interesting switch in behaviour by others in and around the team over the course of the season.

At U7 & U8 you just play friendly games so there’s no table and results don’t mean a great deal. Now we are in a league there is suddenly focus on position, how other teams are doing and more importantly (see worryingly) results.

The kids obviously want to be in a good position in the table but I feel that as adults, and as a coach, we should keep their focus on enjoyment of their football and not get caught up in results and winning as these come at a cost; player development.

I’m not able to make every training session (I make 8/10) or every game (similar ratio) due to work and playing commitments but when I’m there I’m trying very hard to get across points about enjoyment, development and coaching through fun sessions or SSGs, not results or drills.

Whilst we are made to play in a league structure it’s always going to be difficult to avoid this focus on results and its no surprise that people have now become focussed on results but I shall continue to ensure that focus is on football being fun, learning and enjoyment of the game.


About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

4 Responses to A league table changes everything

  1. lazybill says:

    Hi Simon. Good thoughts and comments – I read a lot about junior football teams progressing from friendly matches to full leagues along with the perceived pros and cons. As a coach of 6 years with a team that has now reached under 13, I do believe that kids can enjoy competition in a league structure and as long as the coaching is right, develop as players too. I do think that if a league system isn’t introduced sooner or later then the kids will just get bored of playing what they might deem as meaningless friendlies and have little to motivate them to improve or even turn up for training. As always, there is probably a balance but if the coaches are motivated to provide the best coaching they can then player development and a competetive edge will surely improve together?

  2. Thanks for your comments. Yes, I think you’re right that a balance can be achieved and it’s down to the coach(es) to ensure that the players can enjoy their football with an enjoyment of playing competitively at the same time. Key is definitely to ensure sole focus does not become the league table but rather, their development.

  3. Interesting that you are looking at this right now – we are presently eliminating standings below U12 in Canada. My tiny club hasn’t had league standings in our U6-U11 house league for over 15 years, and we continue to produce top quality players. Four have gone to national team programs in the past 10 years, and our club represents only about 0.2% of all kids playing in Canada. If you are interested to see what we are doing and why, check out my blog post “Kids learn to lose” http://jim-grove.blogspot.ca/2013/03/dont-worry-kids-learn-to-lose.html

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