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Hi All. I manage an under 12's mixed football team in Lancashire (Hyndburn)
I have coached the team from under 9's and they are a cracking bunch of kids. 8 out of my 14 players have been with me from the start, In previous seasons we have been quite a team going on unbeaten runs spreading across over 20 games at a time. Though this season it has changed dramatically. We lost our 70 goals (plus) a season striker who went on to bigger and better things. And a couple of other match winners also moved on.
As a coach this was hard to take and I haven't been able to replace them ability wise.
We have played 5 games this season, losing all 5 and only scoring once in an 8-1 defeat.
I'm trying everything. To be honest, training is top notch most nights. The effort, skill and commitment is far superior than on match days. I have realised that as soon as we concede, heads drop and they believe they have lost already.
I believe if we get that first goal on a Sunday morning, our fortunes could change and the confidence will come back. I said this to the children yesterday evening before and after training.
Is there anyone who could advise me on how to deal with this. The ability is there, the confidence is nowhere to be seen and surely as coach, this is on my shoulders?
Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you
Ouch! I feel for your young team and you.
I'm developing some work around confidence in sports coaching which I'm happy to share. My own coaching practice is all in individual focused sports - triathlon, swimming, running... - rather than team sports. So if I do a blog post about some of the things I've seen work we can see if other coaches can add their thoughts and reflections on how the ideas might apply in team coaching and hopefully help with your young team.
I'll get to it!
This might sound a little trite, but maybe you could try to encourage the players (and parents) to focus on the process rather than (just) the outcome?
I have read some interesting posts around this topic on the FA’s Foundation Phase group on Hive Learning, including ideas about what the important elements of the process might actually be. For example, a player might be tasked with making a number of successful runs during a game (successful might be defined as “beating one player”) or intercepting a number of opposition passes.
All individual tasks that are (mostly) within the players’ control, and can be achieved even in defeat.
I have never tried this approach (I do not coach football) and I would imagine that it would impose quite an administrative burden - goals should be personal, and to make them “real” need to be quantified during the game and reviewed afterwards.
But the focus on what the player can achieve, rather than the score, shifts the emphasis from results to development.
Hi Dan, I am coaching at under 11 this season and we have had a similair start to you and confidence is low. However like Andrew says we have to try and keep the focus on enjoyment and personal and team development rather than the results. Easy to say when we have all grown up with the focus being winning is everything, but if we can give them mini objectives during training and in games I believe that will help build confidence. Even I found it hard after 3 hours in the pouring rain yesterday watching the boys suffering another heavy defeat, but we keep going! 👍
As promised, here a link to the blog post prompted by your question. Hope it helps.
Connected Coaches blog post
Great to have your response and those of other coaches facing similar challenges.
Just wondering how you are doing and whether your young team has got its good times feeling back?
All the best
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