In part one, we looked at players that were striving to keep up with the group. This time we'll take a closer look at those that are most often overlooked; the players in the middle. Again, borrowing from the FA, we'll call this group "Those That Are Coping"

Borrowed from the FA's online magazine, The Boot Room (Edition 12)


Those That Are Coping

Players that are managing to keep up within the session are somewhat in the middle and sometimes get missed by the coach. They aren't necessarily setting the world alight, but they also aren't struggling. It's important not to miss these players and find ways to challenge them appropriately.

Incremental Improvements

If a player is coping, it might be that they only require slight adjustments and nudges in the right direction:

  • Now that you can do the move, can you do it at your quickest speed?
  • Well done on beating the defender, think about cutting across afterwards to close the door...
  • That through ball was accurate, now can you put more weight on it so your teammate doesn't need a touch before finishing!

Praise Effort Over Results

I'm sure you'll have heard this one a lot recently in reference to player development and it's especially true within sessions. Let's say you've worked on a move for half an hour and it's now fully opposed against the defender - you want your players to try what they've just worked on!

If you praise the players that get success, players will want to do the same, whether that's using the technique you worked on, or their own! They'll naturally default to the technique that works best for them. This is natural, they want to get success AND earn your praise.

If you praise the players for trying the move, other players will be encouraged to try it themselves and/or try and be the first one to pull it off. The more enthusiastic you can be when you see this moment in the activity, the more likely they are to try it!

Yes Jimmy! Love that you tried the Ronaldo chop!! Who else can show me the Ronaldo chop? Who's going to be the first one to score after the chop?

Overwrite Mistakes

Players that are coping will have a blend of success and mistakes within your activities. In order to best push these players on to the next level, it's important to identify mistakes and help players to correct them. One way to do this is to take them aside and work one on one. Tweak the technique, show them and once they've got it, have them show you, multiple times! By demonstrating the new and improved version, they can start to overwrite their previous repetitions with the better version. Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent. So make sure those repetitions are the best they can be!

In the example above, the yellow player works with the coach to take their exit touch with the outside of the foot multiple times before returning to the session. This is the preferred execution of the move, instead of the inside, to keep the ball further from the defender.

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. So make sure those repetitions are the best they can be!

Key Takeaways

  • Try to avoid overlooking those in the middle of the group, they need your attention too
  • Consider ways you can drip feed information in - especially if it's not something everyone needs
  • Your praise is powerful. Consider singling out the effort rather than the result

Written By: Dean Atkins