How Many People Can Fit In A Football Stadium Creating and Maintaining Environments for Young People in Football

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Creating and Maintaining Environments for Young People in Football

Over the past four weeks (and 18 years of coaching) I have noticed some very disturbing environments. As a coach, parent, and independent observer who has witnessed top-tier academies, middle-of-the-road, and grass-roots backgrounds and been constantly told “it gets better,” I am concerned.

I have seen some good examples of well-meaning people managing safety and giving ownership to young people. It is not easy to do. Another thing that is not easy to do is to manage adrenaline and emotions. We all want our children to do well. This is a given. Whether homework, modeling, swimming or soccer. But in what ways do people change their methods? In which does the adult change his mind?

The game is addictive – Fact. People visit stadiums, watch seniors, complain about referees’ decisions and complain when the teams we support lose. The turning point is almost like Piers Morgan. But there is a distinct difference. The people you’re yelling, cheering, and moaning at are actually adults. They may struggle in the stressful environment of an adult. The best ones can even block and execute them. It takes years of practice for this. Playing in the Champions League for millions of pounds is one thing, playing in front of 30 people on a 5v5 astro-turf pitch is another.

The two environments are not related. They are not copies. Children can see and dream about such a stadium with their imagination. This is all the pressure they need.

We’re missing a big trick. The street and the playground where we explained while playing and pretended to be a gazza or a maradona was our stress. The next defender is pressure. The last breath is pressure.

Unfortunately, this is an additional pressure on young people:

· Getting kids to play in fixed positions – most who have played will tell you – you don’t play in one position for long.

· Shouting things like “do not work with it in your box, get rid of it, clean it up, move it, down the line” etc. That’s what I’ve been told over the last 4 weeks up to 25 times an hour by an adult to 1-5 kids. Confusion and stress.

· Spectators are shouting “fix him, pass him, come in good”. it’s been done for years, i know i played but it’s no use.

· Parents yelling “resist” also increases aggression. Was the child still struggling? Maybe.

· Good players can’t play – they face managers of young teams, even 2 players point to them, but not children, so that the adults win.

· I’ve witnessed too much foul play from young players, where instead of shaking hands and picking up guys, they’re laughing because the “fight” is overemphasized. Just wait for the fighting type to play at a good level (if they manage it without any technique or skill – probably not), the fight will become a rush as players dance around them or play through them.

Do you want your child to play and enjoy and be good and win at 15, 16 and beyond? I believe the answer is yes. So you have to stop and think now. The u7-9 age groups are key to making them a good under 16:

· Freedom to try things out – 1v1 without fear of losing the ball, playing past the goalkeeper and dribbling anywhere on the pitch.

· Remember that a 5v5 pitch is only a quarter of a full pitch pitch. What they do in front of their goal, they do during the whole quarter. If they clear the ball now, they won’t make a difference.

· Scores should not be recorded. All leagues that require points for u7-14 games are failing kids in my opinion. It gets adults to record them and pushes them into developmental corners. It doesn’t make any sense.

· Awards and Man of the Match Awards – I have rarely seen an award given for a number of turns, skills and technical aspects. I hear a lot of “brave, worked hard, and even this week’s turn… what does it mean? Another adult idea for some strange reason, not a child’s idea (the original new one is not contaminated).

· Not explaining about showing kids off and forcing them to pass – many skills are missed, not just catching players – agility, acceleration and deceleration, movement, awareness, touch and use of both feet, use of different parts of the foot, etc. Don’t allow dribbling and making decisions yourself, you will stop the overall sports development of children.

The best game environments I’ve seen are:

· Children come, shake hands with teachers.

· Changing room – random selection, pairing of age groups, without birth bias, let the children choose their own teams, for social reasons, if possible, get ready together.

· Little talk from coaches – other than “have fun, be an exciting player, can you think about how to get better while playing.”

· No forming organization – let it happen. Children move into position, but know that they can move anywhere. I often hear “be an advocate and don’t go halfway”. You can also say not to play.

· Never say anything like “do something or work hard” it’s not a job it’s a fun game

· Questions are only asked intermittently – if? How did you manage? If so, what should we do? Scenario planning.

· Don’t talk to them while playing. They will still communicate if allowed. They communicate like any other 7-year-old. As they understand. Talking during play is one of the worst things any coach or parent can do, it creates stress, stifles creativity and decision-making, and results in panic.

· Need a referee? Or just a facility that manages security? The last one is good. If we encourage honesty and fair play and set good guidelines, it works.

· Certain rules – allow dribbling, behind futsal – why do we encourage with small children? Mix it up.

· Parents’ comments – are they encouraging? If I’m a goalkeeper and I stop a goal, then I’ve saved it. I am happy in myself, as I was. I already knew it or even anticipated it. So why do I need a chorus of “great saves” because it probably wasn’t a great save, but an achievement by myself and my teams. Controversial?

If you have 4 outfield players, instead of “let’s play 2 defenders, 1 midfielder and 1 forward”, ask the kids. They will come up with some great concepts and they can then play that way or go and follow the ball. Football, you have to remember, is the real reason we play from a young age. It changes a little bit over time, when we work with it almost in tactics, when we get older and play at a higher level. There is absolutely nothing wrong with kids wanting to have a ball. There is nothing wrong with encouraging dribbling. They lose the ball. It is the next player’s turn. Too many balls go down children’s throats. Let’s implement their techniques and then worry about winning.

I watched 4 weeks of games later and I still haven’t seen any of the kids who played in goal go off the line. Why aren’t kids taught the whole game? Again, adult instruction is not about intelligence, but more about aggression and the spirit of Dunkirk.

In such desperation, a great father told his grandson to load it on the pitch, “maybe it’s there so they don’t score.”

I have also seen the rise of the wannabe reporter. They also talk about scores, wins, etc. Fortunately, the team my son played for does not encourage this. Children don’t know how to count. They play game after game. They have social and psychological aspects. They answer questions and behave well. They are playing. The opposing coach declared that his team won “again” 11-7 (I think). He told his players, because of course they don’t know. Then he continued to present the MOTHER award to the applause of the parents. My boys team, luckily, continued to play with each other to the same goal, still smiling. No one asked why we don’t get a medal. This particular game was full of “pass, pass, down the line” regardless of the score, but the goal was scored off a dribble with a player not listening. Good thing he really wasn’t. “We won,” said the trainer; the other team split the time evenly, leaving out two better players who weren’t concerned about the score. They changed the goalkeeper 3 times. The children were happy. This information is not taken into account by the “coach”, because many live only from the end result, not the process. They don’t see the potential of the 16-year-old.

I write this with great passion for the development of young players. I’ve seen some great kids grow up in the last 10 years and unfortunately I’ve seen some kids with great potential get ruined by coaches. Coaches who don’t really put themselves in the kids’ shoes.

Contrast a smile with a serious, stressed face and I know which one is better.

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