You don’t have to win to be a success – okay, so I bet a lot of you read that sentence and thought: “If only it were true!” You will always have coaches, parents and players at your club who believe the only way to judge a coach and his team is by his win ratio. I know how much pressure you are put under when the team loses, but a loss is not always the whole story of the game.
A couple of seasons ago I took a team of Under 10s into the top division at that age group. We started out by losing a couple of games that could have gone either way and then went on a run of four games that we drew 1-1. The players had all done fantastically well to step up to this level and were holding their own against some tough teams but the parents of the players were not happy and wanted the team to win, so they came to me and questioned my tactics.
I was quite happy with the team and sat the parents down and put their performances into context. I am not going to understate the boost that a win can give to the players, but it is not always an accurate measure of how well a team has played. I have a list of things I like to tick off in a game and I always look at this before I think about the result.
Did the players create scoring chances? If the answer is yes, then that is a good reason to praise the team. Did they make good decisions? Did they have a good defensive shape?
Think about these questions the next time your team loses. I tend to think it’s best to write down my answers immediately after a game, so that when I read them back later I can see where our strengths lie and where our weaknesses let us down.
Doing this allows me to focus on my team’s areas of weakness during the next training session. For instance, if I’d noted the team had left dangerous spaces that they didn’t cover when opponents were on the counterattack, I would know that I would have to work on the team’s movement to block the counterattack and do some more work on tactics.
I enjoy re-reading my thoughts on games and use a defeat to work on the weaknesses. As a team we want to be the best we can and work on all aspects of our play, so we don’t view losing as a bad thing, just a way to see what we do right and what we need to brush up on.
Try TIGHT TARGETS from Soccer Coach Weekly to help develop your players to be the best they can be without playing games that have winners or losers.