Develop all players in your team

It is difficult sometimes to accept that success breeds its own difficutlites when it comes to running a club or starting one up. There is much to do and a club relies on the funding and coaching of the parents of the players and the problems of not owning your own ground and all the organization that goes into that every week.

And then you have the development of players to worry about.

Some years ago I was coaching at club and I decided to set up a system where, at each age group, players can develop at their own pace, whilst guaranteeing themselves plenty of playing time in the process.

This worked best by having more than one team at each age. with over 40 players fitting into one particular age range. Any player who develops quicker than their contemporaries can move up, while any player struggling has the option of moving down, and I make sure there is no stigma attached to any of the groups.

With everyone playing each week and no-one stuck on the substitutes’ bench, it has been very successful season. The only problem we have hadis that because in our club there is no stigma attached to the groups, there is by the same token no sense of achievement for the players who move up through the teams – there is nothing pushing them to advance.

The friend factor

It brought trouble with one player who had advanced hugely on the pitch… the only problem was that none of his friends were in the team he could move into so he didn’t want to go. I spoke to his mum and dad. We decided between us that it was the right thing to let him stay with his friends because enjoyment was the deciding factor that we should base our decision on.

What I wrote at the time was “It goes to show, you can chart your players’ progress, organise meticulously and really build a plan of action, but for most, being happy in playing the game is really all they care about. And there he is now for another season – unless of course one of his friends plays well enough to get moved up!”

The teams over the years from U11s to U16s the teams have shrunk from three to two as players left for rugby or in a couple of cases moved away.Both teams are in the Premier League of their division and so it is a situation I can highly recommend and one I shall be using again at the other clubs I work with.

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