My pet hate’s in our game are firstly Coaches who bully players with a win at all costs attitude. Secondly Coaches who set out to demoralise opponents by winning by big score lines, and thirdly and not necessarily in this order Parents who have a win-at-all-costs mentality.
Young players will not fulfil their playing potential if their focus is just on winning! There will be plenty of time for winning when youngsters eventually get promoted to their clubs first team.
My coaches are instructed to encourage players with plenty of positive reinforcement. We want players to play and learn because they want to not because they are forced to.
Another big concern for me is the pressure placed on young players by their parents who think that their offspringis destined to become the next world superstar. I often find myself telling parents that they have a better chance winning first prize in the national lottery than their child becoming a professional. Some parents spend fortunes on dreams. Sadly they are their dreams not their child’s dreams. Statistically I point out an example of the UK’s total population and point out that there are only 4000 professional players in the UK!
Then there is the very strong possibility that a player will experience a football ending injury, lose interest in the game as a result of excessive parental pressure and giving the game away.
I often observe parents scream and get angry at their children for missing a goal or not playing well. It upsets me immensely when i see parents showing their kids affection after a win but openly showing disappointment when the child has an off day. I know as a youngster i needed my parents most when i felt i did not do well. I was and still am a perfectionist and we all know that perfection is an ideal rather than a norm. I see many kids who aim for perfection and are devastated when they do not achieve it. This is where parents need to be aware of not placing any undue pressure on their kids.
I instruct my coaches to ensure that their players remain humble in victory and gracious in defeat. It’s up to to coaches and parents to ensure that football does not bring out the worst in players. My coaches are instructed to swiftly address any arrogance which may lead to a player feeling and/or even thinking he/she are superior. There is no “I” in the word “Team”
Resilience is a lesson young players must learn because too many are unable to handle situations when the going gets tough. They easily give up when results do not go their way.
I frequently observe parents protect their children when they lose a game or play poorly by making excuses for them. Some parents even approach coaches to change any poor grades in development reports. This obvious over protection undermines the development of resilience. It’s actually a good thing for young players to learn how to both lose and win.