Youth Football mandset

Technical. Tactical. Physical. PSYCHOLOGICAL.

You’ve missed your child’s football game. Immediately after the game they call you.

What’s your initial thought as soon as the game is mentioned? Here are some possible answers.


What was the score?

Did you win?

How many goals did you score?



Did you have fun at the game?

What did you learn from the game today?

Did you try hard to practice any of your skills during the game today?



The ‘A’ questions lead to what is known as the fixed mindset.

The ‘B’ questions lean more towards the growth mindset.



The fixed and growth mindset was popularized by the work of Dr. Carol Dweck in her book ‘Mindset’.

Both mindsets are more complex. Therefore it is worth taking time to read the book.

However, here is a simplified definition of both:



Believing the abilities you have is fixed forever. For example, intelligence or skills you have.

People with this mindset tend to shy away from anything that may make them seem inferior to others and often enjoy being praised for being ‘smart’ or ‘very talented’.

Additionally this mindset tends to look for perfection and expects mistake free performances.

This sort of thinking supports the fixed mindset as there is a belief that the outcome is important, not the process to get there, and as we all know, there is no success without hard work and failure along the way.



Believing you can improve at anything if you work hard enough at it.

You may enjoy being challenged as you see it as learning opportunity as opposed to potentially having your weaknesses highlighted.

Feedback after a task promoting this mindset would praise the effort, choice and strategy used rather than the outcome such as:

‘well-done putting all that effort into practice lately. Your hard work and commitment paid off for you”.

Alternatively, when responding to a child who is gloating at winning easily you could ask:

‘ok, but what did you learn?’



This may seem obvious after reading which was, admittedly, a very brief overview of these mindsets.

However, like everything else in life, to develop the more beneficial growth mindset it takes some hard work. Mainly to understand the triggers that cause you and your players/children of failing into the fixed mindset trap.

Dr. Dweck actually states in her book that no one has a growth mindset in every aspect of his or her life.

They may have a growth mindset when it comes to their career, but a fixed mindset when it comes to their personal relationships.

The examples in the book will surprise you, as you will soon realize that you do in fact have a fixed mindset in several areas of your life.


We all do.

It’s part of the personal development process.

It’s essential to understand the variety of ways children can mirror our own mindsets, which can then cause their friends or teammates to mirror their mindsets.

The knock on effect of encouraging the growth mindset (or fixed mindset if you aren’t conscious of what you say) is life changing.



Let’s be honest, whilst everyone in the game is well aware the psychological aspect of the game is critical for success in the game, there is little evidence of any real attempt at developing the players psychological aspect throughout youth football.

Being more conscious of the psychological aspect of the game will maximize and improve the technical, tactical and physical performance of the player.

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U10 Football Match:

Fixed Mindset: Coach putting their tallest, strongest player as a striker to get as many goals as possible.

Growth Mindset: Coach allowing players to play different positions. Encouraging players to practice the skills and knowledge they learned during training.


Promising Young Player

Fixed Mindset: “He’s got natural talent. He’s going to be the next Ronaldo”

Growth Mindset: “All your hard work at training has been paying off. We’ll keep challenging you so you can keep looking for ways to improve”



Dr. Dweck sums it up nicely when she says

“When speaking to children think, does how you communicate say ‘you have permanent traits and I’m judging you….


…. You are developing and I’m interested in your development”

We all may like to believe we have the growth mindset, and we know it is the best way to be thinking for success.

However, this doesn’t guarantee that we have it.

Work hard at understanding how you can develop the growth mindset in aspects of your life and try your best to apply the same thinking to the children you are in contact with.

The best start, read the book “Mindset” by Dr. Carol Dweck.

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