How to coach youth teams

As a coach I am always striving to improve by going on courses, going to watch other coaches and making sure my advice is current and relevant. I am constantly reflecting on my coaching and looking for ways to enhance it.

I work in three-week blocks of coaching and have a particular focus for the sessions in these weeks. For instance, it might be that we need to improve our defensive organisation around free-kicks or corners.

I write down the key points I need to coach and then I break it down into the objectives for each session and the key message for the players to take away. From that, I decide which games and exercises will best introduce and reinforce the message.

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As I coach the session, I analyse key aspects of my coaching. I focus on one or two elements of the session, such as my demonstrations and questioning, or my organisation and the work/rest ratio. I make mental notes about them and how effective they are in the session. I also keep a note of all the challenges I have set my players and how they have responded – success or fail.

Immediately after a session I ask myself how well it went. Were the elements I was focusing on as effective as I had wanted?

I have sometimes come away from training sessions thinking the whole thing had been a waste of time because I hadn’t got my coaching point across. On these occasions I look back at the session and use something called an achievement exercise – I simply write down five things I achieved at the session.

It’s a powerful reminder of what I achieve in different ways. Some things might appear minute in the grand scheme of things but are achievements nonetheless – even things like all the players turning up on time is a positive.

Gareth Southgate tips Finally, I think about the sessions I have run during the three week period: Did I cover everything I wanted to? Are there areas where the players need more reinforcement? Looking back over the three-week period is a fantastic way to see how I am progressing and in doing so making sure the development of my players is progressing.

I know how little time you have to spare for analysing your sessions. But a little time spent on preparation every three weeks will reap dividends when you look at the progress of your coaching and the development of your players over the season.

For solutions to all your coaching problems on and off the pitch go to the AskDave section of the website

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