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Match day! An occasion that we all know that every young athlete are extremely excited for due to an array of reasons i.e. playing with friends, the competition, fun. Before any match day, every coach and parent should acknowledge and identify “WHY” young athletes continually choose to participate within the sport. The “100 Point Exercise” is a great method to understand each individual player and their reasons to participate. I strongly advise coaches to complete the exercise, because at times we tend to “THINK” or “ASSUME” we know why the players participate without having concrete answers. I’ve also experienced coaches that want self-fullfilment in terms of the result of the match, and doing so at all cost to serve their own ego. We should all attempt to change the culture surrounding winning at all costs, and focus upon the learning process.
As a coach I’ve never taken “Winning” away from the players at a young age, naturally every player is or becomes competitive to a certain extent and attempts to win the game. What we shouldn’t do as coaches is define the result of the game as the only component to define success or relate the result to the abilities of players. Too many times, I’ve witness players upset due to losing a soccer game, in my experienced I’ve made an effort to speak to those players and ask why?
The answers I receive are..
- My parents wanted me to win for them
- Coach said if we don’t win were not good enough
- Parents and/or Coach said we had too win
- Parents and/or Coach said if we win we’re better than the opposition
In terms on my own coaching, I continually attempt to create a fun and player-centered environment that allows each player an opportunity to define success in many different ways, that over-shadows the result. For example, team targets and individual targets. See below:
(Players choose their target – Different every game):
- How many “Triangle Passes” can be implemented?
- How many “Crosses” can be attempted?
- How many “Leading Passes” can be attempted?
Individual Targets – #1
All these targets were all discussed and agreed with the players. It’s important that I mention that I rotate players in various positions during the game. The individual positional targets allows them to have a small target whilst they participate within a certain positions. Players are free to play within their own decision making and are not forced to complete the target all the time.
I’ve had players reflect after a defeat and state they were extremely happy and proud of themselves because they attempted different targets.
Feel free to download the Barcelona template : > Barca FC
Individual Targets – #2
When players are rotated on & off the field allowing equal playing time for all, each player gets an opportunity to reflect on their individual performance and write down their names underneath a component/attribute they’ve attempted.
Feel free to download the template: > Individual Targets
As you can see on match days I attempt to provide more than just the result as a component to define success. Coaches should be focusing on developing individual players, that later come together as a team. However we must reiterate that we should be patience in terms of individual players developing and should never compare abilities. Every young athletes develops at different times and stages.
Let’s make match days fun and centered around the players.