I didn’t expect that!

I like meeting coaches in all kinds of different venues and situations. It gives me a great insight into what is going on in coaching. From this year’s United Soccer Coaches conference in Chicago, where I met coaches from almost every nation in the world, to my local club where the coaches I encounter have vastly different levels of experience. Some have been coaching for under six months and others for over 20 years.

Indeed, at the weekend I met a coach who was new to coaching. It was a 7v7 game and our team had the usual 10 players, all keen and eager. Unfortunately our visitors only had five players, so it was with a heavy heart that I told the team we would have to play with just five players.

Not enough players

The visiting coach insisted he couldn’t get any more players and that it was the third week in a row that he had played with five and some coaches still played seven against them.

“It’s not about the winning, is it?” he suggested. “We just want the kids to run around and have fun.”
I wholeheartedly agreed with him but it is still his responsibility to ensure enough players turn up each week – the occasional week wouldn’t be a problem but three weeks in a row is poor.

Developing players

The whole point about the sizes of pitches, the number of players and the progression through 7v7, 9v9 to 11v11 is that young players need to develop in the right environment. I want kids to run around and have fun too, but I’m also looking to develop them the right way.

Five players had to sit out and be subbed: on/off, on/off. It was just not fair on the kids.
The other problem was that winning was obviously on this coach’s mind. He was constantly barking instructions at Harvey, his star player.

“Get forward, Harvey!”
“Get back, Harvey!”
“Not over there, it’s a corner, Harvey.”

The poor boy was worn out by half time. But the best bit was when Harvey crossed the halfway line with the ball, spurred on by his coach – suddenly Harvey looked up and fired in a shot which just bounced past the post.

The coach cried out: “Oooooh! I didn’t expect that, I didn’t expect that!”

He turned to me and said: “I didn’t expect that – why did he do that?”

“I thought that was rather superb, didn’t you?” I replied.
He shut up for a while after that.

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