Robot football

No matter what way you look at it, a coach’s “ability” is based upon results: if a coach has a good record of winning games, they will be in high demand.

Even if their team is set up defensively or play continuous long balls, it doesn’t matter. People are more interested in results than anything else, including the so-called “beautiful” game. This makes sense when we refer to professional football, these guys earn a lot of money and this demands high standards from players and coaches alike. What I can’t get my head around are parents who apply pressure to youth football- the parents who stand on the sidelines ranting and raving because their team are losing 6-1. Somewhere inside them they must feel like they are helping in some way but, in my eyes, the unnecessary pressure which they are applying to both the coach and the players is a major factor in why many coaches are producing robots as oppose to football players.

When there is a huge emphasis on winning games, the structured, progressive training sessions, which should be in place, will be cast aside. Coaches will adapt sessions to try and fix what went wrong the weekend previous as oppose to focusing on the development of the children.  Fixing these small issues may be useful for that particular season and help the team win the next few games but will have no impact on the individuals as they progress on their own footballing journeys.

In addition, when results are not going in their favour, a coach often looks at the structure of their team. “Maybe by changing the formation and teaching the kids how to play in that formation the team will concede fewer goals”. This theory could be correct but is not something that youth coaches should be thinking about. Up until at least the age of twelve, training sessions should consist of the children getting as many touches on the ball as possible. Tactical football is something that children should learn at a later stage in their football journey, but due to the pressure put on coaches by demanding parents in particular, this is often not the case.

Live replay of the Gareth Bale free-kick.

Posted by The Sport Feed on Thursday, 16 June 2016

If a youth coach feels too much pressure coming from parents to win games, they will feel like they have to do everything in their power to get that positive result. Simple strategies that will help development, such as squad rotation, will be thrown out the window and the coach will keep players in positions where he thinks they will be most useful. This will often result in the faster players being strikers and the bigger players playing at centre back. Instead of learning about football, these children will learn how to play in a position. People may see nothing wrong with this, but, when the time comes to move on to another club, a player who is only able to play one position may not be a very attractive option to the potential new coach.

Ultimately, football is an art. To many, it is a way of expressing yourself. Parents need to allow coaches to do their jobs and let their children make mistakes. Let them lose games and look at the bigger picture. Is the child becoming more skilful? Is their first touch getting better? Are they more confident on the ball? Are they able to see and complete passes? If the answer to any of these is yes then the coach should be applauded; youth football is not about winning and losing. It is about progressing, improving and having fun.

So encourage your children to try things, encourage them to take chances- don’t be a contributing factor to them becoming a bang average footballing robot.