"The starting point of development is the passion and ambition of a player. What I've learned over the years is that there is one characteristically decisive factor that decides 99 per cent of development - love for the game. Because if you don't love it, you will never work hard and play enough to become really great." Pepijn Lijnders, Liverpool FC, First Team Development Coach
We will invest in quality coaching. Our coaches will ensure that young footballers get the time and positive encouragement they need to develop their skills and maintain their love of the game. Our club sessions will be fun and will allow kids to develop and experiment with their skills. Our coaches will deliver age-appropriate sessions following the FA's Four Corner Model. We want all players to be creative and make their own decisions on the pitch. We will provide the environment and we will let our players do the rest!
Our coaching philosophy is set out in documents like 'How we coach'. Essentially, our club sessions will be fun, relevant and age-appropriate. They will encourage learning and decision-making and not dictate it. Children’s decisions will not be directed by coaches but questions are used to prompt and develop learning. Free play is an essential part of this. So is social interaction. Our focus is the development of the whole child.
Because of our approach we ask parents to refrain from coaching from the sidelines - whether in club sessions or in matches. By this we mean directing how children should play (e.g. by telling them how to pass, who to pass to, when to shoot, where to run etc). There is no evidence that this promotes or encourages skill acquisition and it removes the child's ability to make (and learn from) their own decisions. More and more, experts agree that developing good decision-making skills is absolutely essential for success and, just as importantly, for independence and enjoyment.
Our coaching emphasis is on the design of our games which will present specific challenges. We also coach by asking questions to encourage thinking about the game as well as to help skill development. Please talk to us at any time if you would like to discuss this further.
Our club sessions will be held outside but we may move to indoor venues when the weather is bad. We hope to promote the development of futsal (indoor football), especially in the winter months. See our news page for forthcoming announcements about venues.
We do not 'train' children for Sunday league matches. These games are only one part (and not always the most effective part) of long-term football development.
Our teams will be managed by volunteers. We are committed to the professional development of our managers through the funding of FA qualifications and through mentoring by professional coaches. For example, Mikey Harris, former Salisbury City FC manager and current Portsmouth FC Youth Team Coach has offered to provide mentoring sessions to managers..
We particularly welcome and encourage people with a passion for football (including young coaches/potential coaches) to volunteer to manage teams.
"Communication is key. There is no need to yell instructions from the sidelines. Instead create a coaching language that the players can use to guide themselves on what to do" Rinus Michels, FIFA Coach of the Century, 1999
On match days, games will be viewed as learning experiences. Development is crucial and more important than adults' bragging rights. Football is unpredictable and players must learn to be responsible for making the correct decisions during the game. We have clear match day standards.
In Academies, it is standard practice to avoid overcoaching from the sidelines. A stream of instructions/directions during the match is not helpful when young players are trying to concentrate on the game, We don't want 'remote control' coaches making decisions for players from the side lines. We need players to make decisions for themselves. Football is a fast, chaotic, dynamic game and we want to develop thinking footballers: players who want to try new things and develop their own ideas and formations. Our players will never be criticised for making 'mistakes'.
Learning is better facilitated by questioning not telling. We all learn by making our own decisions. Managers and coaches will help to develop skills by asking kids questions about what worked and what didn't in the game. Our focus is the development process and not the outcome of the game. The score may tell you very little about how individual players are progressing.
Finally, all kids deserve the chance to play. Kids develop at different speeds and no one learns by sitting out on the sidelines or never getting a game. All kids will get equal playing time. Let's keep kids in the game!