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5 ways to promote player ownership

Actively planning ways to give your players ownership within a training session or in a matchday scenario comes with a number of benefits.

Not only does it tell players that their opinions are valued, it also promotes enjoyment, can help boost their self- confidence, develops their leadership skills and gives them a sense of purpose and belonging.

Moreover, giving players ownership can help embed learning quickly, as they set out to solve problems and challenge themselves.

Here are five ways coaches can promote player ownership through training and matchdays…

01 – LET THEM SET THEIR OWN CHALLENGES

Allowing players to challenge themselves at a level they are comfortable with is a great way to promote ownership and develop confidence at a player’s own pace, and is particularly beneficial when working with younger players.

For example, if you are coaching individual ball-mastery skills, you could give each player four cones to set out their own space within which they need to maintain control of the ball.

This means that less confident players can set themselves a larger area, while those wanting a greater challenge can make their space smaller.

02 – ALLOW THEM A SAY IN THE RULES

If working on a set topic during a session, allow players to come up with their own rules to try and get the desired outcomes.

For example, if your session focuses on playing out from the back, players might choose to add a retreat line for the out-of- possession team, or stipulate that the team playing out must make at least three passes in their own third before breaking out into midfield.

Players might need a little guidance on ideas for rules and restrictions at first, but you may be surprised at how creative they can be.

Allowing players to be in charge of their own arrival activities is one of Hannah’s top tips

03 – LET THEM PICK THEIR OWN TEAMS

Allowing players to choose their own teams for a small-sided game is a good opportunity to give them some ownership and develop leadership skills.

Encourage them to make teams as even as possible, or suggest players challenge themselves further by pitting themselves against a strong teammate, rather than being on the same team as them.

04 – LET THEM CREATE THEIR OWN ARRIVAL ACTIVITY

Offering your players the chance to design or lead their own arrival activity or warm-up is not only a great way to give them some ownership within the session, but it can also provide you with a valuable bit of breathing space to set up the rest of the session – especially if you can’t get access to the pitch before the session starts.

You could mark out a playing area and provide bibs for players to start their own game, or leave a note on the whiteboard with a few suggestions or challenges.

05 – GIVE THEM A PLATFORM TO SPEAK

Whether it’s at half-time in a small-sided training game, or in a competitive fixture, try to give players the space to have their say before you step in. This will allow them to begin solving their own problems, develop leadership skills and take ownership.

At training, you might ask players how they would change a practice, why they think something is or isn’t working well, or actively give them a problem to solve in small groups.

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