EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

I admit it, I made a mistake

There are occasions when I do things that go against all the advice I give out – and I’m not sure why I do it or, in this case, don’t do it. It shows how you can’t rest on your laurels in this coaching lark and I feel a bit of a chump for doing so.

players training The team were heading towards the last few games of the season at the time and we were in fourth spot in the league, having had a good season. In fact, no team below us in the table could catch us any longer – and maybe that was the thing that stopped me being my usual meticulous coaching self on this particular match day.

There was a slight incline on the pitch and we were going uphill for the first half. It was a good half with lots of chances and some excellent play by both teams. The opposition scored just before half-time to give them a lift, but because we were playing downhill for the second half I wasn’t concerned.

The players were in good spirits at half-time, talking about how well they were performing and they felt a bit unlucky to be behind. Now this was where I would normally take them to one side and give them a team talk with a couple of things to think about for the second half, but this time I didn’t do it!

Half-time problems

Okay, so since this aberration I have thought back to the moment and tried to understand why I just stood around talking with the players’ parents while the team stood around talking about what they were going to do after the game. And I can’t tell you why!

What I can tell you though is that when the team came out for the second half, expectant, playing downhill, always capable of scoring… well they didn’t score. The opposition didn’t score either, so at least the defence was switched on, but the attackers were not playing that well and the expectation of scoring on its own wasn’t enough to actually do so.

The half-time team talk is very important for young players, as it helps them to keep them focused and gives them something they can think about when they start the second half. They need a bit of focus and they need to feel that something has been said that will help them to defend better, to support play better, or to shoot when the opportunity arises.

To take something from the game was good for me as a coach. A mistake like this makes you realise that we all do things for a reason and that teamwork on match days includes the coach.

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