Empower your players to trust in their own judgement, says JONOTHAN PAGE, and you will produce the coach's dream - a whole team of captains on the field MORE
A letter to the parents
Watching teams in the Champions League this season I have been very impressed with some of the kick offs which play the ball high and wide into attacking zones where the players can immediately attack the ball and start in a very positive way.
I am a great believer in positive play from the kick off, but have met resistance from the parents of players who are used to seeing a pass back into midfield scenario on the TV.
A new kick off
A couple of seasons ago I was trying a new kick-off with the Under-10s, with mixed success. We practiced kicking balls towards the opposition corner flag and follow in with two fast players.
If the ball goes out near the corner flag the opposition have to take a throw-in from a very defensive position, which immediately tests them because they are on the back foot.
If the attackers get to the ball before it goes into touch they are in a good position to create something. If the defenders get there first they’ll need to link-up well to get the ball up the pitch, so there are positives all round.
The tactic worked well in our own division but we were drawn in the cup against a very strong team from a higher division, and found ourselves 3-0 down at half-time. When we kicked off for the second-half my players’ parents began complaining about the tactic. This was not what I wanted.
If something is not working we take it back to our training sessions and address it there. The commotion and mixed messages meant my players became confused and lost the ball. I was not happy with the parents’ reaction so I sent out this letter:
Please can I remind you that the boys spend a lot of time preparing for situations in matches. Sometimes tactics don’t work on the day. This is not an open invitation for parents to shout at players. They are Under- 10s and are learning with every step they take. In our last match there was an unpleasant chorus of disapproval at the rugby style kick-off we used on the day.
This is just one of a number of things we are experimenting with and, whilst not a typically English style of kick-off, it has been proven to be very effective by youth teams in France and Spain. That it wasn’t working on the day did not in any way have a detrimental effect on the team, but shouting at and confusing the players did. Please come to see me if you have any problems with the way the team are playing.
Thank you however for your support,
It achieved what I wanted and I received a strong and positive response from the parents.