The 2018 season is just four games in and already i am observing a focus on results. Young players in tears because they were on the end of a heavy loss. Parents asking me questions about the result and what it is that i am doing about addressing the situation.
Clearly i have failed to communicate my development philosophy as otherwise all our coaches would be Pep Guardiola’s and Jose Mourinho’s and all our players would be Messis’, Bale’s; Ronaldo’s; Neymar’s and De Gea’s.
The development of players is not just about winning, but that said i don’t want to send the wrong message out so I want to be clear that this must not be seen as that i am not interested in winning.
The players should still be striving to win and coaches are instructed to create an ethic of striving for excellence in games. This is a part of our player development focused programme.
A results driven environment can very quickly become about the coach rather than the coaching process. As Technical Director i would be appalled if our coaches were putting the result of a game over the learning process.
Tactics that bring success in short term at the expense of the development of players in the long term (e.g., long ball tactics in football at the expense of developing passing, control, dribbling skills etc) are simply unacceptable to what our development program is about.
I do not want to develop robots who blindly follow coaches instructions but do not develop an understanding of the game and worse still, not learn on field problem solving skills.
Players at Holland Park Hawks were recruited or retained for their technical ability, not physical attributes, and up until the age of 15 technique is the primary focus. I understand that young players still want to win games but it is critical that coaches communicate to parents and players that the emphasis must be on development.
I do NOT want our young players feeling any stress, anxiety, or fear whilst at the club, and certainly not because of a match result. I want our youngsters to have a strong desire to learn new skills, to compete, to be with friends and to have fun playing football. There will be enough stress about results when they play first team football where it is indeed about the result.
Of course players are encouraged to play to win but as Technical Director i analyse performance in terms of the technical, tactical, psychological and physiological development of players and all our coaches are understanding of this.
Our Coaches value the importance of player motivation. I know that parents often have a greater interest in the result than the players do. Players often concerned with playing well, learning new skills, improving, enjoying the atmosphere of the team (e.g., friendships, socialising etc). It is the parents, and officials that often cause ‘success’ to be judged in terms of win-loss records in junior and youth sports.
I will let you in on something i instruct our coaches to do. We do a thing where we manipulate things so if the game is getting too easy, we change it. You will never see our development teams win 10-0. I simply will not allow it. I think it is regressive, and benefits no one. If a game is getting too easy we practise possession and how to manage a game. I do not understand it when coaches of young teams jump up and down and cheer as if their team has won the FA Cup when the scoreline blows out.
We focus firmly upon technique. We have in place systems to allow the players maximum one vs. ones all over the pitch. The way we play, there is no hiding place. A player will always get the ball. A player is always working. This is how we identify strengths and weaknesses in players in terms of character and their willingness to recover after a set back.
Not everyone understands, hence the reason for this article. Parents approach me and send me emails concerned that their offspring are not winning games/trophies. I know the plan, I devised it! I am not about to change my philosophy about football development and certainly not after four games into the season.
My coaches and I firmly believe in our objectives for the season and we are not about to chop and change things every time a result is not favourable.
Everyone wants to win but I want to be very clear with parents, players and coaches that up to the age of 18 the emphasis is about development.
Please lets not focus on results and work together to ensure that every young player has the opportunity for a possible future at turning into professionals if that is what they want. It is much easier learning a craft from a young age and perfecting it over time as there is much more time to improve. This is due to good skill acquisition programs and ability to learn and absorb at a young age.
Lets all understand that at Holland Park Hawks FC we want players to train and play at the club because they love the game first and foremost. We want players who strive to be the very best that they can be. We value performance over results in junior and youth football.
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”