Don’t bench them

I’ve lost count of the number of times last season that I saw the opposition had players on the bench for the whole match without getting them on the pitch at all. I hate to see this and my heart goes out to those unlucky benched souls who have been so keen all week to come along to a game and play in it, only to find that they “aren’t going to play this week”.

What must the parents think? They have given up their Saturday morning to take their excited son or daughter to a game, only to end up taking them home disappointed at not playing.

Time on the pitch

How many of you feel that you do your players justice by making sure every single one of them gets a fair amount of time on the pitch? I can hold my hands up here and admit to the mistakes I made when I first started coaching. Back then I know I was guilty of having players sitting on the bench when they should have been getting a game, particularly when the team was 1-0 up and I wanted that win more than I should have done.

But I wasn’t like that for long. My own sons started telling me they would hate to sit on the bench, so I made sure it didn’t happen again and all my players and the team benefited from this change of policy.

When I speak to other coaches about this, some of them say the players are not good enough to get a game and will perhaps get to play later on in the season. This is a classic excuse but one that doesn’t hold water.

Not good enough

Who are we to say a young player is not good enough to play a game of soccer? I can never understand why the parents of these players pay their money and support a club that treats their child in such a way.

At the beginning of every season I tell every player they will play at least 50 per cent of every game, and I work out schedules depending on the size of the squad and age of the players.

I want to see my players develop over the course of a season and if they are not playing in matches how is that possible? There is nothing more soul destroying than always being told you are going to be the substitute.

Give young players the benefit of the doubt and the confidence this gives them will help them in their quest to become a better player. Deny them this chance and they will never recover  – do you think you can be judge and jury on that young players experience of soccer? I think not. Let them play.

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