The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Magazine | Issue 12. April 2015
The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Magazine | Issue 12. April 2015
P l ay e r
C e n t r e d
What do the players want from their
coaching experience?
As coaches, how often do we consider what each player
wants from their football experience?
In this issue of The Boot Room we have attempted to put
the player and their thoughts on the game and coaching at
the centre of each article. Crucially, we wanted to know what
players find most enjoyable and challenging about coaching
practices, what motivates them to get better and what
coaching advice and guidance they find most useful.
To do so, we spoke to over 50 players of different ages and
abilities - ranging from former England senior internationals
Scott Parker and Phil Neville to the U8s at grassroots
club Wantage Town in Oxfordshire. There are also some
fascinating insights from the England blind squad, the
partially sighted futsal squad as well as the U17s at
Middlesex Girls’ Centre of Excellence.
Approaching coaching practices from the players’
perspective can prove to be a revealing and rewarding
process and one which can help improve the coach and
player relationship.
Finding out how different individuals learn, how they like
to be challenged and what types of activities they are
motivated by can inform everything from coaching styles
and intervention methods to practice and syllabus design.
Player ownership and responsibility is central to our work at
international level with the England development squads
and a core component of the England DNA. With time on
the training pitch during international camps limited, we
aim to utilise every other hour we have with the players to
extend their learning.
Before and after a practice England development players
will work with the coaches to plan and/or review sessions.
Individuals have the opportunity to review their own
performance, suggest ideas for the next practice and
highlight the aspects of their game they want to develop.
It is an element of the England DNA we deem hugely
important. Our aim is to create an environment where
the players are part of the coaching process and feel
comfortable and confident to input their ideas.
Players of all ages and at all levels have some terrific ideas
and as coaches it is important that we design practices and
programmes with this in mind. As coaches we must not
forget that we don’t always have all the answers.
I hope you find this latest edition helpful in your coaching.
Yours Sincerely,
Dan Ashworth
Technical Director
Inside The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club
Scott Parker interview
Danny Collinge interview
England U17s defender
Realistic and rewarding
Middlesex Girls Centre of Excellence
Phil Neville interview
What's good about grassroots?
Wantage Town Juniors
You are the coach
Burnley FC Academy
Trust: developing the bond
England blind footballers, Keryn Seal and Dan English
Products of the environment
Tony Carr interview
Games, goals, goalkeepers
England’s Partially Sighted Futsal team
Aligning visions
Ben Bartlett
The point of difference
Andy Lowe
What the players want
Matt Jones
Developing life skills
Ceri Bowley
The individual and the collective
Edu Rubio
Distribution? The decision is yours
Keith Granger
Laura Harvey named FA Coach of the Year at
FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Coaching Awards
The FA Licensed Coaches' Club
"This award is fantastic
and it’s great to see that
women’s football in this
country is recognised
as equal"
The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club successfully hosted its
second Coaching Awards ceremony at St. George’s Park
last December, with Seattle Reign head coach, Laura
Harvey, topping the honours list after being named
2014 FA Coach of the Year.
Laura Harvey,
FA Coach of the Year 2014
The former Arsenal Ladies and Birmingham Ladies coach,
who also picked up the Professional Game Female
Elite Coach of the Year, became the first coach to be
honoured with the award after it was introduced at this
year’s ceremony.
Winner of the COACH Coach of the Year, Bristol Academy WFC
U13s coach, Naomi Reid (centre)
Seattle Reign head coach, Laura Harvey, became the first coach to
be named The FA Coach of the Year. Dave Parnaby, Middlesbrough
Academy Director, pictured right, was recognised for his outstanding
contribution to youth development.
For Harvey the award was recognition for the whole of
women's football.
“This award is fantastic and it’s great to see that women’s
football in this country is recognised as equal,” she said.
“There are a lot of female coaches who have been around
for a while who are striving on, pushing forward and
keeping going and we need the next generation to keep
progressing too.
“As the women's game gets more recognition we hope
more female coaches will come to the forefront.”
Joining Harvey were 13 coaches from grassroots and elite
football who were recognised for their achievements,
while four new significant names from coaching were
inducted into The FA’s Coaching Hall of Fame.
Former Manchester United youth team coach Eric
Harrison, former England women’s international Sue
Lopez, Southampton’s executive director of football, Les
Reed, and former coaching director of The FA’s National
Football School, Keith Blunt, were all inducted.
Dave Parnaby, director of Middlesbrough’s academy, was
also among the award winners recognised on the night.
Picking up the Outstanding Contribution to Youth
Development award, Parnaby spoke passionately about
the importance of the awards evening for recognising the
work going on throughout the game to develop young
English talent.
“This night epitomises how important everything is from
the grassroots all the way through,” Parnaby said.
“I have said for many years now that there is some really
good work going on in England and I think we are in a
good place.
“There are lots of talented players in England at all levels
and at all age groups. From travelling round the country
playing other academies, [I have seen] we have some
unbelievable talent and some unbelievable work going on
and long may it continue.”
The Boot Room
Issue 12
April 2015
Awards Winners: Secrets to success
December’s FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Coaching Awards saw some of the most successful names in English
coaching gather at St. George’s Park to recognise coaches at every level of the game.
We asked four of the winners for their insight into the ingredients of a great coach and for some advice for those wanting
to follow in their footsteps.
Dave Parnaby, Middlesbrough FC
academy director
What makes a great coach?
It’s a love of what you are doing. It is no different than
players – a player has to love the game and a coach has to
love teaching.
Teaching or coaching? There is always a debate about
whether there is any difference. In my eyes there isn’t. The
great teachers and the great coaches have a habit of being
able to press the right button with every child, taking every
kid as an individual and treating them as individuals.
I think the great coaches know how to press the buttons.
The great coaches at our level pay great attention to detail
to every single player they deal with.
What continues to drive you on?
It is the love of teaching. I was a teacher for 22 years,
loved football and wanted to be a professional. But
there is nothing more satisfying than coming out of your
classroom or the gymnasium and one of the pupils saying,
‘thanks Sir that was great’. It is no different in coaching.
It is that thrill of young people succeeding and being
successful in their careers with their wishes and
their dreams.
Where the first team managers thrive on that drug of
success and winning, in youth development we thrive
on young people doing well and succeeding, not just in
football, but going on to be a good person for the rest of
their lives.
Eric Steele, Derby County
goalkeeper coach
What makes a great coach?
You have got to be a listener. You have got to be a learner.
You can’t stand still. You have always got to continue your
own personal development. The day you stand still is the
day you should really leave the coaching role.
Laura Harvey, Seattle Reign
head coach
What continues to drive you on to be the best coach
you can be?
Being on the pitch just feels like home. That is where I
feel most comfortable and confident. It is natural. It is
something inbred. When you get out on the field with the
players, especially with senior players, they are so thirsty
for knowledge and want to be the best they can possibly
be that it drives you on to be the coach who provides them
with that environment and opportunity to be the best
they can be and push them into the right direction.
What is your advice for aspiring coaches?
Don’t be somebody that you have seen. Be yourself. Take
the good and bad of what you have learned, but make sure
you are true to who you are.
Listening and learning is vital. Don’t think you know
everything. Go and learn from other coaches. Go and learn
from other sports and be prepared to listen.
Eric Steele greets his players ahead of a coaching session at The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club coaching conference in December.
You are never at the end. Whether you are learning the
coaching ropes aged 19, 20 or 21 about how sessions
work, basic organisation principles and making sure the
players are enjoying their work or whether you are trying
to win the Champions League and focusing on those small
details that make the difference - you never have all the
What continues to drive you on?
Whatever status, the reward is in the progress of the
player. That is what you do it for and I don’t think anyone
is arrogant enough to suggest that it is always all down to
What is your advice for aspiring coaches?
Having the work ethic is the place to start and that was
drummed into me early at Cheshire FA with Graham
Keeley and Alex Gibson, and then 17 years with Dario
Gradi where we worked every minute God sent really.
If you are a specialist coach, and goalkeeper coaches are,
and if you are working with young kids of 8, 9, 10 years old
and you enjoy that age group, stay at the age group. Don’t
be tempted to move on.
But try and get a great base right through the game and
then just see what your strength is and give yourself time.
But don’t forget, you must continue to learn at all times.
What makes a great coach?
It is an understanding that there is no end to it. That is the
main thing. You are never there. As Dario Gradi told me: “it
is the never ending search for perfection.”
Just knowing in some small part that you have had an
impact on somebody, someone who has gone on to
do well at whatever level and in some cases that can be
playing right at the top level doing significant, important
things at the top level. That is really our raison d’etre. It
is the reason we do what we do and I am sure that will
always remain.
Advice for aspiring coaches
Be learners. Be prepared to learn. Be prepared to get
to know everything possible that you can in terms of
recognising the age group you want to work with.
If you are then in the youth development stage, and you
are terrific at dealing with kids between 11 and 16 and you
are good at it, stay there.
Steve Holland, Chelsea FC
assistant first team coach
Harvey celebrates with Arsenal players during her time as
Head Coach of the London club
That is the most important thing. Then you need some
luck sometimes and then when you get luck you need to
make the most of the opportunities.
I would go back to that never ending search for perfection.
You have never cracked it, and the moment you think you
have you are in trouble. It is that continued search to
keep finding new ways to improve which is the most
important thing.
For Chelsea’s Steve Holland, pictured, a strong work ethic is essential for any coach with ambition to succeed in the game.
The Boot Room
Issue 12
April 2015
FA Licensed Coaches’ visit NSCAA 2015 in Philadelphia
Frontline leadership
Candidates on FA Professional Coaches' Award learn from the Royal Marines
“I have always found that imposing things on people is less
effective than actually creating something with them,”
he explained.
“The process of co-creation is about helping people get on
the same page to create a unified vision, a unified purpose
and then a sense of ownership and accountability as well
as responsibility.
“It stands a much better chance of success than imposing
on somebody blindly, or even consciously, and it is the
task of a leader to help co-create the journey you want to
take them on.”
Salmon’s most notable success during his time in the
military was overseeing the successful withdrawal of
British troops from Basra in 2009.
Recounting the experience to the candidates, he revealed
he relied on a “simple, clear, brief” approach to help him
achieve the withdrawal and also to support him and his
team during difficult periods.
“We only had two bits of paper in the job I was doing in
Iraq,” he said.
“One was the design of the campaign and a picture on one
piece of paper, and on the other piece of paper was the
intention – what do we need to achieve? What were the
key things that had to happen to enable that to happen?
And then how we were going to do it.
Andy Salmon OBE, speaking to troops during his time as
Commandant General Royal Marines
Candidates on The FA Professional Coaches' Award
were given an insight into the critical elements of
effective leadership from former Commandant General
Royal Marines, Andy Salmon OBE.
One of the country’s foremost experts on leadership with
over 36 years’ experience as a Royal Marine commando,
Salmon guided the candidates, who include Hull City’s
Stephen Clemence and former Everton midfielder John
Ebbrell, through his key ingredients of senior leadership.
One of those ingredients was the Understand, Sense,
Tune in principle.
“The first thing which has to be constantly done as a leader,
in particular a senior leader, whatever sector you are in,
is to understand.
“Take the time to understand the current position, the
situation you find yourself in, who you are dealing with, the
object of what you are trying to do, and get a sense of it
almost through being an anthropologist and using all your
senses to listen, look and learn about what is going on.
“Spend a bit of time depending on the scenario you find
yourself to find actionable insight – find the insight you need
to take action to then be able to start to affect change.”
Another key principle was one Salmon labelled
Co-Creation, a process by which leaders look to include
rather than exclude team members to improve the
likelihood of achieving an objective.
“It was a few words and it was just a great reminder – five
sentences of what it is all about and what you believe in.
It is good to keep you on the road, doing the right stuff,
keep you motivated and keep faith and energise you when
things aren’t going particularly well."
Launched in 2012, The Professional Coaches' Award
aims to develop some of the country’s most exciting and
creative young coaches into innovative leaders equipped
with the skills to be successful at the highest levels.
Over the duration of the 18-month long course, candidates
are also challenged to explore the technical and tactical
themes that are prevalent in the modern game and tasked
with considering how these trends can complement their
own approach.
Previous speakers on the course have included Chelsea
assistant first team coach, Steve Holland, and Everton’s
assistant coach, Graeme Jones.
2014/15 Professional Coaches' Award candidates:
Jamie Clapham, Stephen Clemence, Tom Curtis,
Elliott Dickman, Ricky Duncan, John Ebbrell, Gemma
Grainger, Michael Halsall, Paul Harsley, Steven Haslam,
Emma Hayes, Paul Heckingbottom, John Hewitson,
Rich Horner, David Horseman, Mel Jeffries, Richie Kyle,
Terence McPhillips, Jeremy Newton, James Shan,
Kristjaan Speakman; Richard Stevens; Robbie Stockdale
Delegates enter the NSCAA 2015 coaching convention in Philadelphia
Twelve FA Licensed Coaches attended an FA study
group visit to the 2015 National Soccer Coaches
of America Association coaching convention in
Philadelphia earlier in the year thanks to a joint
initiative between The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club
and the NSCAA.
The two national coaching membership schemes
organised the five-day continued professional
development visit, where the select group of coaches,
from both the grassroots and elite game, observed and
shared best practice.
Hosted at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the group
observed some of the game’s leading coaching experts
deliver an extensive schedule of practical and
theoretical workshops.
The visit also included a behind-the-scenes tour to MLS
side, Philadelphia Union. Led by Tommy Wilson, academy
director, the group took in the state-of-the-art facility and
enjoyed talks by a number of members of the academy’s
backroom staff, including youth development managing
director, Rich Graham.
During the trip to Philadelphia, each of The FA Licensed
Coaches was tasked with producing a summary report
from each of the sessions attended.
Lee Orme, U16s Coach at Farnborough FC, attended a
session by the Positive Coaching Alliance (US non-profit
organisation providing high school athletes positive
youth sports experiences) on Positive Motivation.
Key learning points
1. Give players confidence that you have confidence
in their abilities
2. Players are motivated in different ways, adapt
your techniques to the needs of the individual
3. See a positive, say a positive
4. Create an atmosphere that supports the best
possible performance
Fellow study group member and Youth Development
Phase coach, Jordan McCann, compiled a report from
a session on Coach Education and Coach Learning
by Darren Watts, Teaching Fellow in Coaching at
Loughborough University.
Key learning points:
1. All participants in the study indicated informal
learning had the biggest impact on their coaching
2. The most effective coach educators were those
who listened as well as taught, and took the time
to get to know individual course candidates
3. The strength of informal learning is an
untapped resource – how can we maximise this in
coach development?
A selection of the NSCAA summary reports are available on The FA
Licensed Coaches’ Club website.The 2015 visit was the second time that
The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club sent a study group to the convention.
Details about the 2016 trip will be published later this year on The FA
Licensed Coaches’ Club website.
The Boot Room
Issue 12
April 2015
FA International Course held in Dubai
10 | 11
A road less travelled
Englishman in charge of Guam graduates from FA Professional Coaches' Award
Gary White, pictured, is Head Coach of Guam
Gary White is a three-time national team head coach,
a former club technical director and holder of both
The FA UEFA A Licence and The FA Professional
Coaches' Award.
Over 500 overseas based coaches have been developed
as part of The FA’s international course programme
over the last eight years.
The programme has also offered FA coaches a unique
opportunity to observe and learn from other football
The latest FA International Foundation course was hosted
in Dubai in January and delivered by FA national coach
educator, Ted Dale, and England women’s U17 head
coach, John Griffiths.
“We are recognised as one of the best coach education
governing bodies, so for us it is about supporting those
that don’t have the infrastructure,” Griffiths explained.
“The content delivered is based mainly around The FA
Level 1 and FA Module One,” explained Dale.
“There is an emphasis on the practical delivery and
practical structure of coaching sessions. We link the work
to the principles of play and make adjustments so that
they are more suited to the environment and the people
they work with.”
Like the domestic FA Level 1 course, the experience of
those in attendance is hugely varied, explained Griffiths:
“There is a real mix of coaches who attend. There are
coaches from England, Scandinavian countries, Egypt,
Iran, Iraq, and of course native Emiratis. It’s a real mix of
cultures. These are the coaches who are supporting the
local leagues and the children’s grassroots leagues in
“The idea is to deliver content that best supports each
coach, culturally and within their leagues, to give them
more of an understanding around how to develop an
environment for players to learn in and, at the same time,
gain some game and functional knowledge to support
their players and their development.”
“By doing this we can learn from other cultures and bring
back things we learn from what is happening in Dubai and
the Emirates and what they are trying to achieve.”
The course was held at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence,
in conjunction with the It’s Just Football academy.
Chris Brown, Managing Director, believes The FA courses
have been significant to the development of football
in Dubai: “The International course has been hugely
beneficial in the development of youth football here.
“It has improved the standards of grassroots football
thanks to coaches being able to access the English FA
coach education courses and become qualified coaches.”
Richard Meek, Academy Manager at IJF, helps to support
the coaches once they have completed the course.
“From the recent foundation course, we have been
delighted to see two coaches go on to make a great start
to their coaching careers. They are now working within our
Yet despite all of this, White, who is head coach of Guam,
remains a largely unknown figure within the English
mainstream due to a career spent entirely outside of the
“I left England when I was 18, 19 to work in Australia and I
have been travelling since then,” said White, who initially
made the 9,400-mile trip to pursue a playing career before
turning his attentions to coaching two years later.
“At that time I felt that I just wasn’t going to get the
opportunities in England, and so I had to make a decision
to either sit and wait for someone to call me in, or to go
and show some personal initiative and create something.”
White’s initiative paid off. After time spent working with
young players and opening his own academy, he was
appointed head coach of the British Virgin Islands aged 24
making him one of the youngest ever FIFA National Team
Head Coaches.
He followed that up with a head coach role at the
Bahamas, a technical director position at Seattle Sounders
in the MLS before accepting his current role as head coach
of Guam where he has since overseen a 37-place rise in
FIFA’s world rankings.
White can reflect on a career that has often challenged
him but one that has also equipped him with a set of skills
he feels he could not have achieved otherwise.
“I have spent the past 20 years really carving out a
career and it has been a fantastic journey in terms of
development because I have had to develop to survive.
“You really find out about yourself when you are in a
different culture and social environment and it really
teaches you to manage all people.
“It has also really taught me how to communicate with
different people and get my message across in the right
way, because when you come into different cultures and
different environments, people think differently than you
and so you have got to find out what the right buttons are
to push or what to say to get your message across.”
White explains that seeking opportunities abroad brings
with it many potential unique benefits for those keen to
develop and find their way in the game.
“There is a big wide world out there of coaching for
the right people who are willing to commit to their
development and adapt to wherever they go. And I think a
lot of young coaches in England could do a lot worse than
getting themselves out of their comfort zones and finding
a challenge.
“Coaching is a profession where you need to go out and
get the experience of working with players, working with
teams and making mistakes, getting results, being put
under the stress of getting results. Sometimes in England
those opportunities are limited.
“I have made so many mistakes along the way but I
have been given the time to develop. In other countries
you sometimes get given a platform, an apprenticeship
almost, where you can make the mistakes and get better."
In 2013 White was invited to take part in the inaugural
FA Professional Coaching Award - a course aimed at
outstanding English coaches with ambitions to coach
successfully at the highest level in the professional game.
“It was such an honour to be invited on to the course and I
am so proud to have gone through the FA system.”
The Boot Room
Issue 12
April 2015
The really
good teams I
have been in are
player driven.
The players drive
the session and
don’t accept
things that aren’t
right and don’t
accept individuals
who aren’t doing
things right.
Fulham captain Scott Parker tells Peter Glynn that the best coaching
sessions are player-led and that man-management and organisation
are the traits of the best coaches and managers.
12 | 13
I’ve always challenged other players
throughout my career. Not in an
aggressive way, but sometimes
to explain to players that
something isn’t acceptable
and then to talk about
different ways we
can improve.
14 | 15
Looking back over your career, what types of
On both the technical and psychological
coaching sessions engaged you the most?
aspects of your game did you work with
The best sessions are player-led and you come off the
training field still engaged. That’s partly down to the
coaches and the way they put their messages across –
but ultimately it’s when you have the right players who are
engaged and willing to learn and want to do well.
others to help you improve?
I’ve worked with a sports psychologist for five or six years
now, which is definitely a side of the game that has helped
me massively. I think it was always a little bit taboo before
that. You were maybe viewed as weak if you needed
psychological support.
The best sessions happen when you have a group of
players who want to go out onto the training field and
want to be successful.
Early on in my career I worked hard on my technical
abilities. I worked with the coaches that I had and I put
extra work in on the training field to work and refine my
game. The extra work definitely improved me.
Certainly the really good teams I have been in are player
driven: the players drive the session and don’t accept
things that aren’t right and don’t accept individuals who
aren’t doing things right.
I’ve always sought extra help from others. I think when the
day comes and you just do it your own way you’re going
to be struggling. I’ll have the same approach as a coach or
manager. The more you can bring expertise from different
fields and learn from them then the better you’re going to be.
Have you ever challenged a
coach during a session?
I’ve never challenged a coach in front of the rest of the
team, but being the team captain at most of my clubs
there have always been conversations with the coach. I
have always asked questions as to whether we could do
certain things better.
Similarly, I’ve always challenged other players throughout
my career. Not in an aggressive way, but sometimes to
explain to players that something isn’t acceptable and
then to talk about different ways we can improve.
Ultimately, I think that comes back down to the culture
that you try and set. The more players you’ve got like that
the more the culture is player driven and the easier it is to
challenge and improve.
What are the ingredients of a
player-centred environment?
For people to thrive and to get the best out of people the
environment has to be right. It’s happened to me as a
player. I’ve been at clubs where the environment hasn’t
been right and I’ve not been engaged.
Whereas there are other clubs I’ve played at where I’ve
thrived. It was because I enjoyed going to work in the
environment and I was improving and everybody had the
same expectations and expected a lot from each other.
It’s not just football. It’s the same way in which I view
bringing up my kids, I view developing a culture at a
football club in the same way as bringing up a family. If
the home is a good place for the kids to come back to they
are going to thrive, be happy, and do well at school. It’s the
same as being a manager and managing your team.
What are the most important lessons you
have learned from the coaches and managers
you have worked with?
Scott Parker
trains for England.
The midfielder admits
that throughout his career he
has felt most engaged in training
sessions where the quality has been
driven and sustained by the players.
I’ve experienced a vast number of managers in my career
- some unbelievably good managers - but each one has
been very different, with their own strengths
and weaknesses.
When I look back, and I reflect a lot on this, I think back to
the things that the best coaches and managers did. There
is a common trait about the best managers and coaches
and that’s their man-management and organisational skills.
As a UEFA Pro Licence student,
What has been the most important piece
how would you summarise your own
of advice or guidance you have been
coaching/management philosophy?
given in your playing career?
I believe in managing people. I believe in creating an
environment and culture that people want to come to
work in. If you create that then I think you have every
opportunity to be successful. Don’t get me wrong, I’m
not saying what happens on the training field isn’t
important, because of course it is – but my personal
thoughts are of creating good people and creating
an environment.
At fourteen I had two years away from home at Lilleshall
[The FA’s national school, before club academies were
launched]. I had to leave home and move north and
boarded. It was massively important for me.
Looking back on your career, how have you
helped yourself improve as player?
Early on in my career I was always looking to improve
technically and tactically and to have a better
awareness of certain aspects of my game: can I use
my left-foot more, can I head the ball better and
those type of things.
The one thing that was imprinted in me at Lilleshall was to
work hard and graft. I definitely believe that you have to
be willing to work hard and make sacrifices.
I think that’s linked to the way I’ve played the game.
If anybody looks back over my career, if you had
to find words to describe me – working hard
and graft would definitely be in there.
Hard work was definitely instilled
in us at Lilleshall from a young age.
As I’ve developed the area of improvement and focus
has definitely been more psychological. It’s been
more about how my mind is working. Am I getting
disappointed with things? Am I feeling down on a
Monday after a bad performance? How am I dealing
with things?
It’s been a massive swing. Up until 26/27 I was
really trying to nail down the game and have a real
understanding of tactics and where I want players
to be and an understanding of where I have to be on
the pitch.
But after that it has definitely been psychological.
Looking back on my career, it is that side of things that
have defined me in a way: when to keep a cool head
and how to stay strong when you’ve got 30,000 booing
you or getting at you or if you’ve just let out three stray
passes and you’re getting disappointed with yourself.
As a young boy, I don’t think you have the
capability at times to deal with that,
but of course there are some
out there that have.
Lilleshall was not just
the making of me as a
player but it was the making
of me as a person. It gave me
guidelines, structure and it taught
me how to handle myself. I’m not
sure where I would be if I hadn’t gone.
The Boot Room
16 | 17
Issue 12
April 2015
What else was it about Lilleshall that
made it such an important experience?
When people ask me what were the defining
moments in my career Lilleshall was 1000% not
just the making of me as a player, but it was the
making of me as a person. It gave me guidelines,
structure and it taught me how to handle myself.
I’m not sure where I would be if I hadn’t gone.
What was your footballing
journey before Lilleshall?
I was probably one of the best boys at a young
age [in grassroots and schools football] at
9/10/11/12. I was signed by Charlton at nine.
It was a school of excellence set-up back then,
so we only went in for one session a week and
then you played for your local Sunday team.
Then I went to Lilleshall, did very well, came back
to Charlton and played youth team and reserve
team football.
Parker battles for the ball against Wolves’ Bakary Sako. Hard
work and graft are characteristics of his game for which Parker is
renowned for - traits he puts down to lessons learned at Lilleshall.
When I came back to Charlton I stuttered along
a little bit. At Lilleshall I had a lot of structure and
there was always routine.
When I went back into the club environment I
found it quite hard really and struggled a little bit.
For three or four years I was probably stuttering
along and it was only when I went on loan to
Norwich [aged 20] that the penny dropped for
me. I thought I really need to make a stamp on
this and go and do well.
When I hear people speak about me they say
that Norwich was the making of me. I suppose
I knew it was my opportunity and I knew I had
to take it.
What was so important about the
loan at Norwich?
There are clubs where I’ve thrived. It was because
I enjoyed going to work in the environment and I was
improving and everybody had the same expectations
and expected a lot from each other.
It was the experience of playing first-team
football. At Charlton I’d made my debut at
sixteen and then only made the odd appearance.
I’d never really felt the importance of a game
and of three points and how it was. When
I was on loan at Norwich I was playing
week in, week out and realised what
it was about. I came back from
Norwich and thrived from there.
Scott Parker is the captain of Championship side,
Fulham FC.
The midfielder began his career as a youth team
player at Charlton Athletic and attended The FA’s
national school at Lilleshall between the ages of 14
and 16.
After making his debut at the Valley aged 16 the
midfielder soon attracted interest from a number of
high profile clubs. In 2004 he moved to Chelsea for
£10 million, spending 18 months at the Bridge before
moving to Newcastle United where he captained the
side to the UEFA Intertoto Cup.
Parker joined West Ham United in 2007, going on to
be named the Hammers’ Player of the Year for three
consecutive seasons, the Football Writers' Association
Footballer of the Year in 2011.
A move to Tottenham followed before joining the
Cottagers in 2013.
Parker has represented England 18 times.
18 | 19
As I have got older
I have come to appreciate
coaches who let me play
each game for myself
Danny Collinge,
England U17s Defender
Danny Collinge training for England U17s
England U17s defender,
Danny Collinge, tells
The Boot Room about the
importance of playing with
freedom, why he values
detailed feedback and his
development journey with
MK Dons and German side,
VFB Stuttgart.
What type of coaching sessions do you feel most engaged with?
What role does the coach play in making the session engaging?
I feel the most promising step in coaching is in the direction of player
involvement and feedback into team tactics. These sessions help me to get a
better understanding of my role within the squad. An individual understanding
between me and the coach is also very important. Coaches who understand the
way I learn and take this into consideration when explaining new concepts and
designing practices helps me tremendously.
I feel most engaged in sessions where I am given more freedom and where there
is little restriction on me within the practice. I personally find that being limited
to touches, being forced to play in zones or being given too many coaching
points sometimes limits my creativity.
As a young player, what do you want from a coach/manager?
Has this changed as you have got older?
This freedom allows me to explore different aspects of the game such as the
variety of ways we can play out from the back. This freedom is engaging and
enjoyable but most importantly gives me the mental and technical attributes to
react and adapt to different scenarios in a game.
A one-to-one relationship with my coach is very important. Feedback from the
coach is something I really appreciate, whether it is after a match or at a specific
moment in training.
That said, having one or two individual targets set by the coach to work on
throughout the session also helps me feel more engaged as I am more aware of
decisions I am making. This way I begin to evaluate my technique and analyse
why maybe it did not work on this occasion and what I need to do next time to
improve. Coaches have often recognised this trait in me, and have asked me to try
and be less critical of myself on the pitch but I feel this has been one of the vital
elements of my development as a player so far.
Finally, sessions of a competitive nature are very engaging. This is essential to
every session because it helps to recreate the atmosphere and intensity of your
weekend fixture. It forces you into a good work ethic, whilst also challenging the
technical side of your game.
I also really appreciate coaches who are accepting to the mistakes I am bound
to make in training or in a game. Coaches who are very loud on the sideline
and quick to criticise you create a less enjoyable and more tense footballing
environment. It is a given that you will receive some feedback that demands an
improvement, but there are ways of going about giving criticism to get the most
out of players. It should be less about telling players what they did wrong and
more about what they could do differently.
As I have got older I have come to appreciate coaches who let me play each
game for myself. I don’t want to be constantly told from the sideline what passes
to make and what position to be in as ultimately I need to be able to make these
decisions on the pitch for myself.
Feedback from the
coach is something
I really appreciate,
whether it is after
a match or at a
specific moment
in training
The Boot Room
20 | 21
Issue 12
April 2015
Danny’s Journey
Collinge broke into
the England set-up at
U16 level and is now
a regular for John
Peacock’s U17 team.
I started playing football when I was four
and joined MK Wanderers, my local club,
where I played for five years. Whilst playing
grassroots football I attended MK Dons
Development courses. After a year I was given
the opportunity for a trial with the academy
but unfortunately I was told that I wasn’t
ready. I was encouraged to go away and work
on different aspects of my game including the
technical and psychological side.
At a young age I struggled with failure, I
often got upset and frustrated if I made a
mistake and as a result was very tentative
when I approached a game of football.
This was an aspect of my game which has
developed dramatically and something I
have worked hard to improve.
6 months after my trial with MK Dons, I went
to the MK Dons elite centre and joined West
Bletchley, a local grassroots side, playing a
year up and in the number 10 position. This
was all encouraged by MK Dons.
Coaches who are
very loud on the
sideline and quick to
criticise create a less
enjoyable and more
tense footballing
Are there any pieces of advice that you remind yourself during
a game – any trigger words or key phrases that help to focus
your game?
What are the major differences you have
found in coaching approaches in England
and Germany?
During a game I don’t tend to use trigger words. I try to play more off instinct and
what feels right. The only thing I would remind myself of is that if I make two or
three successive mistakes during a game, just to simplify my game the next two
times I receive the ball and then build from there again.
Coaches place a big emphasis on the tactics. Each
coach has their own unique philosophy and they look
to try and educate the players on this. What I enjoy
most about this is that the methods of the coach are
always evolving and they will give real life examples
of professional clubs applying similar methods to help
consolidate our understanding.
However, my approach before a game is very different to what goes through
my head during a game. I will try to picture myself performing different skills
successfully in a game, such as precise diagonal balls, last ditch tackles or
running forward into midfield.
Looking back to when you first started to play football,
how would say your game has improved? How and why?
Have you experienced any different types of
coaching practice in Germany?
When I first started playing football I was quite reliant on my speed and I had
little ball control to complement it. When I had my first trial with MK Dons they
asked me to go away and work on this aspect of my game. From there I began
playing as a number 10 for my local club, and going out to my local park with my
father to work on my ball control.
We will often compete 6vs2 at the beginning of every
session, which I am aware other English clubs also do,
however the practices don't differ too much from what I
have experienced in England. It is more the approach to
each session and purpose of each session that differs.
Within six months my ball control had improved rapidly and helped me to get a
place at MK Dons Academy. The tight area practices we used to do at MK Dons,
where we would play 6 vs 6 in a 8x8m area really helped my ball control. Every
touch I made had to be measured and helped me a lot in the improvement of my
ball control and ball protection.
I worked very hard on the technical side of
my game which improved dramatically. I
then returned to the academy six months
later to train and see how things developed.
An opportunity to play in a friendly came up
and I had the best footballing performance
of my life up to that point. It was that game
and all the hard work that led to me signing
for the academy.
In the three years that followed in the U12 to
U14 age-groups there were highs and lows,
however I was slowly developing much to
the thanks of my coaches and the support of
my family. It meant I entered the U15/U16
age-groups with a great deal of confidence
and more maturity. Here I pushed to get
into the U16 side, as I wanted to be playing
a year up and truly testing myself. By
Christmas I cemented a place in that squad
and continued to work hard and develop
different aspects of my game.
I was selected to attend the first England
U16 camp as the only player from a
category 3 club. I have tried to use my
past experiences of disappointment and
success to aid my progression as an England
player, but most importantly I continued to
approach each international fixture as if I
were still on the bobbly pitches at MK Dons'
training ground.
Last summer I moved to Germany to sign for
Middlesex Girls Centre of
Excellence players Jordan, Molly
and Georgia tell The Boot Room
that they want competitive,
high intensity practices that are
realistic to the game.
Team: Middlesex Girls Centre of Excellence U17s
Coach: Adam Burrows
Coaching overview season 2014/15:
Our approach has been to ensure that our practice
design allows the players to make lots of decisions
and are realistic and game related. Additionally,
we make sure sessions contain 70 per cent ballrolling time. The team itself has a blend of new and
existing players, including some who are on the
brink of joining up with England teams. Therefore
the approach has been to try and create a strong
bond between the girls as team cohesion is very
important. The U17s coaches have used a variety
of coaching styles with the team as we believe that
one size doesn’t fit all and different situations and
players call for different coaching methods.
Jordan Littleboy
What aspects of coaching sessions do you enjoy
and how does your coach help you with this?
I enjoy practices in tight areas and spaces because
it challenges you to make passes and try things
that perhaps you wouldn’t normally do in a game.
Practices open you up to what you can do when
the practice forces you to do it. Practices in tight
areas motivate me the most as it forces you to move
the ball faster and be more creative. Also, these
high intensity sessions are more motivating as it
is a more competitive atmosphere. With everyone
more determined to compete for a place in the team
everyone performs at a maximum.
I also enjoy game related practices that use a realistic
pitch size, because you can see how certain phases
of play can be applied to game situations using the
space and freedom you would have on a match day.
In both defending and attacking sessions the coach
will always relate the practices to a game-related
situation which helps you to recognise how it can
be effective on a match day and understand why it
is effective.
I think these types of practice encourage people to
trust the practice and trust each other. Our coach
will also encourage trying things and playing with
freedom in a practice even if you lose the ball or
possession, which I think makes me confident to play
creatively both in training and match day.
The coaches have also helped by providing us with
self-assessment forms, which are discussed in
one-to-one meetings. The forms and the meetings
highlight our strengths and areas for improvement
so we recognise the areas we should exploit as well
as areas we could improve on. These are helpful as
it gives you both the coaches’ perspective as well as
the things that you believe you could improve. It’s
really useful as I often focus on the negatives and
ignore the positives after playing.
22 | 23
Molly Wheeler
Coach reflection:
Adam Burrows
What aspects of coaching sessions do you enjoy
and how does your coach help you with this?
How will the player feedback impact on
your approach in the future?
Sessions that challenge me and take me out of my
comfort zone motivate me as I feel I learn when I’m
in those situations. However, if the group is really
struggling with a part of a session the coach will
pause the session and ask us what aspects we are
finding difficult and what we feel needs to change to
improve the session. It puts the ownership on us and
involves us in the learning, which helps a lot. When
we make certain decisions the coach will ask us why
we made that choice. It has helped me to start to
think about the impact my decisions can have, and
has helped my game improve.
The coaches at the centre of excellence ensure
that they spend time talking to us. They will talk to
us one-to-one about our roles and responsibilities
with the team, as well as our strengths and areas for
improvement. The coaches also take the time to talk
to us informally to understand us a person. Because
of this I have started to do extra work with the coach
to increase my understanding and ability to play
in other positions (also helped by watching regular
football). Extra practice and training allows me to
develop skills that maybe I don't use or practice
within training as I will predominately be playing in
my main position.
Georgia Valentine
Involving the girls in this process has been a
very useful exercise for myself and the other
coaches as it gives us a greater insight into
what fuels each player and motivates them
to attend training. This process has acted as
a great method of review around the girls and
their reasons for playing.
The players’ responses will have an impact on
our future approach as they have highlighted
key issues that will help the centre support
their long term development. For example, an
understanding of each player is important,
but moving forward we will ensure that we are
aware of the girls future aspirations.
If we understand where they want to be,
we will be better placed to try and put the
necessary steps in place to help make that
a reality. The responses also show that the
players enjoy sessions in tight spaces for a
number of reasons, but our job is to ensure
they can relate the reasons behind these
types of practices to the real game and apply
these skills at the appropriate time.
We weren’t sure how they would respond to
the classroom based self-assessment tasks
but their responses to the questions show
they found these activities beneficial, so we
will continue to implement this to support
their long term development.
What aspects of coaching sessions do you enjoy
and how does your coach help you with this?
I find that I enjoy the competitive parts of training
the most as they challenge and motivate me. My
coach will often create a football related forfeit for
me which I enjoy as it makes me more focused to
succeed at certain tasks within training which makes
me enjoy the session more.
Where possible I like sessions that are match related
as I can relate them to game day and it helps me
visualise these moments better. Quite often during
training, the coach will ask us if there is anything
in particular we feel we need to work on, either
individually or as part of a unit. Often goalkeepers
are seen as separate to the team, but the coach
involves me with the other team units so this is very
useful. Also in training we get asked questions about
why we do what we are doing and this helps develop
our understanding of what we do and how we can
improve. They also provide information either by
telling us or showing us how what we do relates to
match play.
Adam Burrows
is The FA Skills Team Leader for
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire
and Oxfordshire. Starting out
in grassroots football, Adam
progressed to academy football
before gaining experience
coaching in America, Europe
and Asia. Adam joined The FA in
2008 as one of the Association’s
youngest ever coaches aged
17-years old and moved to
the role of Team Leader five
years later. Adam holds a BSc
Coaching Sciences Degree and
The FA Youth Award.
24 | 25
As a player
you get to an
age when you
have to take
of your own
learning and
Phil Neville played over 500 Premier League games for
Manchester United and Everton, collected 59 England
caps and won countless medals and trophies in an 18 year
professional career. Here, the BBC pundit and former Old
Trafford coach tells The Boot Room how self-responsibility,
enthusiastic coaches and a disciplined club-culture
contributed to his achievements in the game.
26 | 27
Top: Working on his technical skills, Neville trains
with England. Middle: Challenging Ade Akinbiyi
during a Premier League fixture against Leicester
City. Bottom: Neville celebrates with Tim Cahill
after the forward scored against Blackburn Rovers.
Long gone are the days where you’ve got a
stick and a coach adopts the method of
“I say and you do”.
Coaching and management is more of a negotiation
now, where two parties come together to agree
the best way forward. If you get the players to buy
into your beliefs and they are actually dictating and
policing the training ground performances and the
dressing room then that’s a very powerful tool to have.
Neville warms-up during his time at Everton. From an early age, the former midfielder
understood the need to take ownership of his own development.
The biggest thing I wanted from
the coach was to be challenged
and to be inspired and to feed off
their energy.
All of a sudden you get to an age, maybe
seventeen/eighteen, when you have to
take ownership of your own learning
and development.
The best coaches I worked with all had great energy.
As a coach myself now, it is one of the main things
that I try to do with players when I work. I try to give
energy to the team through my enthusiasm. More
importantly, I need to challenge them and inspire
them by the things I’m asking them to do and the
example that I am showing them.
Early on in your career you put your faith and your
trust in your coaches: to guide you and challenge you
and to improve your techniques and to improve your
understanding of the game. Then the coach’s influence
becomes a little less and you need to start thinking deeply
about your game and every season you need to show
some sort of improvement in your game.
The coach is your first point of contact on
the training ground every day.
As a player you go out onto the training ground every
day, but you don’t feel great every day and some
days you feel better than others. But if the coach is
enthusiastic and stretching you and putting on good
sessions and challenging you to improve then you’re
going to be inspired. I think that is the key element
to coaching.
There are some days that the coach won’t need to
work as hard at challenging you or need to be so
enthusiastic because you’re self-motivated and
that’s the best point to get to: when the team itself
is self-motivated. Up until then you need a level of
enthusiasm and you have to challenge your players.
Every day there needs to be some kind of challenge
to the team to improve. If you can do that the players
tend to respond.
That comes from coach feedback and reviewing your own
performance, but that also comes from within as well. I
leant heavily on my coaches in the early years and then I
became aware of what I needed to do myself with the help
of my coach. Later on you almost go back to the start and
you need the help of the coaches to manage you through
the latter years of your career.
I think it is really important to review and
self-reflect on your own performances.
Later on in my career I was very good at reviewing and
self-reflecting after training and then using video analysis
to review and reflect after games. Sometimes you do need
the help of a coach because you do need other people to
give you that advice and to give you those little pointers.
When you’re still in your playing career you don’t see
everything so you do need good people around you.
The most important thing is you take the parts that
you need to improve and actually action them into
improvement. Later in my career, maybe from the age of
22/23, that was something I really enjoyed doing. I saw it
as a strength rather than somebody looking at my game
and picking holes in it and looking at it as a negative.
I was fortunate that the two clubs I was privileged to
play for both had those kinds of environments. Players
took ownership, there was a good dialogue between
management and players and players bought into the
philosophy of the manager and set the tone without
the manager having to implement things with a stick.
Utopia for a coach or a manager is where
the players are actually setting the
keystone values themselves.
You then have a situation where players are giving
feedback to coaches, coaches are taking that on
board and then taking the club forward with the ideas
that the players are giving them. Players are taking
ownership and that’s what the coach or manager
wants and we had that at both Man United and
At United the players took ownership.
The players policed the dressing room. If there was any
slight misdemeanour, or any discipline action, it was all
nailed upon. Any bad attitude or slacking in training –
the players policed it themselves. The players raised
the bar in terms of performance. It all came because
the core values were so strong - set by the manager
-and not just for the players but for everyone at the
club. They all bought into it.
I had to fight for everything, I had to earn everything and as a coach that’s the biggest challenge to bring that out of
your players.
When I went to United my career wasn’t given to me on
a plate. The coaches, Eric Harrison and Jim Ryan, didn’t
just say here’s the first team. You had to work bloody
hard for it. And they instilled great values into me, the
same values that my parents instilled into me.
I think there’s stages [that form the grit and
determination]: I think it’s your parents, then your
coaches and your teachers.
Phil Neville is now a co-commentator for
the BBC, having retired from his 18-year,
two-club playing career in 2013.
Neville's playing career began in 1995 when
he was handed his debut for the first of
those two clubs, Manchester United, in an
FA Cup fourth round tie against Wrexham.
Over the course of the next ten years, he went on to collect
six Premier League titles, three FA Cups, a Champions
League winners' medal and a World Club Cup title in a Red
Devils’ shirt before moving on to Everton in August 2005.
Neville spent the next eight years at Goodison Park
making over 300 appearances before announcing his
After retiring as a player, Neville – who is studying for the
UEFA Pro Licence - turned his eye to coaching and support
roles with England U21s and then Manchester United
where he was reunited with David Moyes.
28 | 29
What’s good about
Wantage Town Juniors are one of nearly 500 grassroots
teams who have trained or played at St George’s Park in
2014/15. The Boot Room spent the afternoon with the
Oxfordshire club during their recent St George’s Park
Football Experience to find out what the children enjoyed
about the grassroots game.
What the players think...
'I’ve got lots of
friends in the team
now and we like
playing together
and try hard for
each other.'
'I really like the games
at the end of the session
because we get to do
lots of shooting and
tackling. I like shooting
best, because we get to
score goals.'
'I like the shooting
games that we
play, when we get
the chance to play
attackers against
defenders and get
to shoot against
the keeper.'
'I just like
playing in
games and
'If we could choose
what to do, we
would play a proper
game on the big
pitch with goals.'
'The best thing I can remember
about the games is when I scored
my first goal when I was playing in
midfield and how it felt and how I
wanted to do it again.'
'I think the coaches have helped
us improve our skills and working
together as a team. We work better
as a team now and work together
during games rather than giving up.
Also nobody shouts at each other.'
The Boot Room
30 | 31
Issue 12
April 2015
Lee Brown
St. George’s Park Community manager
What the coaches think...
Jeremy Moor
David Kamm
What activities do the children
enjoy the most?
What coaching activities do the
children enjoy the most? Can you
describe the acitvities they enjoy
the most?
Small sided games where they are all
involved as much as possible. To keep
them all engaged we often split into three smaller groups
and rotate the exercises. We never use a practice where
they end up in a line waiting.
If the children were in charge of the session what do you think they would do?
I think they would play a game with lots of shooting and also
do activities where they have a ball each. They certainly
turn up and head straight to the goal with one being the
goalkeeper, maybe to hit corners, but mainly to shoot.
If we sat them down to discuss what they wanted they
would certainly want a game. The game would not have
many rules other than the main laws.
We try to keep all the players engaged and try to subdue
bad feeling or teasing by encouraging passes and the right
decisions, not just goals or strong tackles. Ultimately they all
want to score and be the winner, but we try to teach them
that this comes by being a team and you can't win without
everyone playing well.
What activities do you think the children have
benefited from the most?
We try to make all the children understand the core ideas
of being a team: supporting each other and encouraging
each other. As a group they have become good friends and
regularly visit each other's houses and spend time together
away from football. We try to arrange it so that the children
have an opportunity to be the mascot at first team games,
organise trips to restaurants and other social events all
based on the children. The social skills and respect can be
easily brought into everyday life. The friends they make also
helps when they move to the larger secondary schools.
There are certain activities that the players always request.
Bulldogs is definitely a favourite. We always play it first
without balls and then introduce them after a few rounds.
They love playing both versions of the game as it is fast
paced and competitive.
King of the Ring is another that the players continue to ask
for. They love the fact that it is a case of every man for himself.
Certain players will try different approaches, such as staying
out of danger for as long as possible, or teaming up with a
friend. There is always a great sense of achievement for the
player who wins and they always want one more game.
Passing and dribbling activities can always be made more
fun for the player by adding a goal to shoot at. Finishing with
a shot at goal makes it more appealing for the players and
adds an incentive to do the first part right.
Finally, playing a match. Probably the part of training they
enjoy most.
If the children were in charge of the session what do you think they would do?
I just asked my son who plays on the team and he mentioned
the activities above. He would play King of the Ring and
Bulldogs, as well as having a match. I think some players
would just choose to play a match for the entire time though.
What activities do you think the children have
benefited from the most?
In terms of developing them as footballers, small sided
games are probably most beneficial. I think it is important to
do activities that cover all aspects of the game though and
to have a balance of each, outside of a match situation. The
challenge is to then transfer these skills into the matches.
St. George’s Park is committed to
supporting grassroots football and
provides a number of playing and
educational activities and courses for the local and wider
football community.
There is a wide spectrum of grassroots activity held on site
all year round, from the five-year-old who takes part in our
weekly FA Skills Centre to the 55 year-olds playing walking
football. We also see lots of volunteers and parents who are
starting out on their coaching journey attending the
FA Level 1 and other courses on site.
The 60 Players from Wantage Town Juniors who recently
attended St. George’s Park are part of the 2553 players
(136 teams) that have already visited St. George’s Park
during the 2014/15 season to take part in one of our
football experiences.
The St. George’s Park Football Experience includes two
hours' accredited CPD for Level 1 and 2 club coaches and the
opportunity to shadow one of our community development
coaches. For more information on the St. George’s Park
football experience programme including opportunities to
take part in a summer football festival please visit:
St. George’s Park
Grassroots football 2014-15
Statistics to date
St. George’s Park
Football Experiences
Players: 2553
Teams: 136
County FA and local
school /community
group events, festivals
and fixtures:
Teams: 238
Players: 3483
Weekly Community
Teams (evenings):
Over the winter period from
October - March on the
outdoor 3G or futsal court
Teams: 77
Players: 1099
Weekly Matches:
Teams: 28
Players: 392
Grassroots Coach
Education (Mentoring,
workshops, courses):
FA Level 2:
32 candidates
FA Level 1’s x 3:
66 candidates
Football Futures:
32 coaches
CPD aligned to
football experiences:
95 coaches
Teacher training:
70 teachers
Total Teams:
Total Players:
Total Coach
32 | 33
You are the
The coach’s perspective
Lee Waddington
Lead Foundation Phase coach
Burnley FC
We pride all of our work at the academy around the principle that the
coaches really care about the players as children and as people. We
make a point of trying to talk about the child and the person before
the player.
We’ve also worked extremely hard at assessing what we believe
each individual child needs in The FA 4 Corner Model to develop as a
person and to develop as a player. Instead of creating a programme
and forcing it on the individual, we have tried to look at what the child
needs and shaped the programme around the child.
The Boot Room visited Burnley FC’s academy to ask a selection of U10s and
U11s what they enjoyed the most about coaching sessions and if they were the
coach for the night what would they do?
What do you enjoy the most about a
coaching session?
What do you look forward
to the most about coaching
What do you look forward to the
most about coaching sessions?
Practising skills and things
like that. I like the scissors
and inside and outside
hooks and we have to
practise them quickly.
Is there anything in particular;
is it games or the practices and
What is the most
challenging part of your coaching sessions?
Some of the skills we have to do are really hard –
like the Ronaldo 7 which is two kick-ups, knee, knee,
shoulder, shoulder and head. That was quite hard.
What do you like about your coaches?
They help me a lot, like with my tackling. I didn’t used
to like tackling but I do it quite a bit now. Sometimes
I used to pull out of challenges, but I don’t really do
that anymore. The coaches have helped me with my
technique in the tackle.
I like the techniques and the
games at the end. I also liked it
when we did this thing where we
had a belt around our waist and somebody held onto it
from behind and we had to pump our arms.
Why do you like the games at the end?
You pick your player and then the coaches say it’s the
Champions League Final and then you try and win it.
What does pick your player mean?
You have to pick a player in your position and then you
try and play like them in the game. I usually pick
Vincent Kompany.
If you were the coach and you could choose one
thing to do in training what would it be?
What is the most challenging thing you have done in a
coaching session?
The four goal game – where you’ve got four goals and
sometimes there’s a challenge in it and sometimes
there’s not. Sometimes you’ve got to do a one-two
and a first time finish and sometimes there’s an
overlap or an underlap.
Shielding, I think. While the other player is shoulder
barging you, you have to try and shield it.
Why is that your favourite game?
I like combination play and stuff like that.
If you were the coach and you could choose one thing to
do in training what would it be?
Headers and volleys – because it’s fun
and challenging.
What do you like about your coaches?
They tell us lots of things about football and I learn
a lot more.
The way that we play games and how we have
to do combinations before we score – like onetwos and overlaps. The coach says that to get
two points or two goals you can do an overlap
or a one-two.
Why do you enjoy that type of game?
Because you can pass the ball around and
play as a team.
What’s the most challenging part of a
coaching session?
When you have to do challenges before you
can score. Like do keeps ups for a number of
times before we can go and score. Your brain
is working harder than just getting it, passing
it and shooting.
What part of your game has improved the
most through coaching?
Tackling. At my Sunday team some people
that we played against weren’t passing the
ball so you could just put a foot in. But at
academies people pass it around you so you
have to be quick to tackle them.
What’s the best thing that the coaches do
with you?
If we are in a match and we receive it on the
back foot and lose it and then the other team
go and score a goal, they don’t shout at us.
Instead they’ll say “well done for trying to open
up on with the right foot and go forward”.
If you were the coach and you could choose
one thing to do in training what would it be?
Tackling. As the coaches say, we play the
better football sometimes but when it gets
to the defending sometimes they go past us
too easy.
Interestingly, many of the responses fell in the psychological and
social corners. However, it's important to stress that the technical
aspect is never forgotten. For example, we identified a boy who
needed to work on his communication and as a by-product of
improving his communication it has meant he receives the ball more,
which in turn means he’s had more opportunities to pass, dribble and
shoot and therefore more opportunities to learn. So his technique
has improved as a result of us working with him in the psychological
Importantly, his confidence and self-esteem seem to have improved
too as he is more involved in the game and the team. It’s been a real
eye opener for us that more coaching in the psychological and social
corners can offer huge benefits in the technical corner.
Ultimately, it is a secure learning environment which is at the heart of
everything we do and we believe it is an environment which the kids
are really keen to come to. One of the dads told me that whenever he
gets home from work to bring his boys to training that they’re both in
full Burnley kit and ready to go and can’t wait to get here. I do believe
that if the children love what they are doing they will improve.
To try and ensure that the children do fall in love with the game we’ve
tried to underpin a lot of our work with research and engaged with lots
of experts in the fields of learning and psychology.
We’ve looked at a Montessori way of teaching – which helps the
children become more patient and take their turn, improve their
focus and work independently. Similarly, we have also looked at the
importance of grit and determination.
With regards practice design we have focused on some of Dr Robert
Bjork’s work on interleaving – which encourages each session to
be split into shorter 15 minute time sections working on related
-but different – topics. The group will spend 11/12 minutes on each
activity and then 2 or 3 minutes reflecting and forecasting the next
We’re finding that the enjoyment and participation level from the
children is very high and the learning outcomes are being met. Most
pleasingly, we’re seeing a transfer from the theory onto the pitch.
For more on these themes visit The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club
website for further insight.
34 | 35
In any healthy player-coach relationship trust is vitally
important. For blind football players, however, it is
From communicating tactical and technical information
during training and matches to guiding the walk from the
dressing room to pitch side, the bond between player and
coach is pivotal.
England’s Keryn Seal and Dan English - captain and vicecaptain respectively - are full internationals readying
themselves for the European Championships in August
and cite the trust and understanding between the players
and staff as important as ever.
“Coaches are working with athletes who are relying on
hearing as their primary sense so it is important for them
to understand how blind athletes move, how they learn,
and how they adapt to different coaching feedback,”
Seal explained.
That gradual rapport comes from being
exposed to the coaches’ methods and
trusting how they are going to work.
“A lot of blind people haven’t actually moved sideways or
backwards, for example. Before they come into football
they are used to just moving forwards in a straight line,
so the coach needs to help with that in terms of showing
them how to move, not only in a sighted manner but a
correct one.
“In our game it is absolutely critical that any coach who
coaches our game has some fundamental experience of
working with blind people and blind athletes because
this game is like no other in the 24 England squads,”
added Seal.
English explained that coaches with first hand experience
of coaching blind football are better placed to support the
varying learning challenges.
“We all learn differently. Some of us have had sight up until
different ages, so we need things described in different
ways,” he explained.
“A good coach is someone who understands the basics,
who understands blind football and understands what you
have got to do to let that player grow.
“Someone who has been blind from birth, for example,
might not necessarily understand we are playing in a
triangle shape or a diamond shape, whereas a former
sighted person would.
“So this has to be broken down in different ways in training
and it can be a little bit more of a technical session where
we walk through different formations, types of run, things
like that.”
Both Seal and English agree that establishing trust
within the player-coach dynamic remains a gradual
process reliant on the consistency and clarity of a coach’s
“That gradual rapport comes from being exposed to the
coach's methods, the methods of the staff and trusting
how they are going to work.
“We trust and believe in each other as players, and as
players to staff we trust and believe in the methods they
are employing.”
Developing the bond
Thomas Coupland speaks to England blind footballers, Keryn Seal and Dan English,
about the importance of the coach/player relationship.
English agreed: “It is not something that can come
over night. It is just something that has to be gradually
introduced and grow as it goes along.
“For me I was quite lucky because I spent quite a lot
of time with Jon Pugh [England Head Coach]and the
assistant coach Adam Bendall at the RNC at Hereford
blind college, training at the football academy and so I
have built that trust up over time.”
Whilst much of the discussion focused on the coach’s role
in sustaining the player-coach relationship, both Seal
and English were keen to point out that the accountability
isn’t solely one-sided.
36 | 37
English explained he and his England teammates often
use a bit of friendly competition to ensure they keep up
their end of the bargain.
“We are generally good at doing what we have to do and
what we are told from the head coach because we know
the outcome, and we know we haven’t got the time to not
do the right things or let the session slip by.
“Away from camp, the boys motivate each other and we
have little competitions and little jokes to help keep each
other going.
We all learn differently. Some of us
have had sight up until different
ages, so we need things described in
different ways.
“It helps motivate each other. I know it motivates me away
from here because we are all pushing, we all want the
starting spot and we all want to be the fittest in the squad.
“Actually knowing someone else is training and
you’re not can be a bit of a kick in the teeth.”
Seal stressed that establishing trust should also be a
shared ethic for both players and staff.
“It is not just important with the head coach or the
assistant coach, but rapport with all the staff is crucial,” he
“You see coaches helping the players from A to B just
around St. George’s Park, and that trust that someone
is going to help you out, be it on the pitch, be it on
the phone, or around St. George’s Park needs to exist
“Every one of the players has been well looked after
through every member of the team, and so the trust
at the moment is very strong.”
A Coach’s Perspective
The Research by Jake Henry
To gain a broader insight into the
role of trust in the player-coach
dynamic within blind football, The
Boot Room sat down with England
Blind squad head coach, Jon Pugh.
The coach-player relationship, as a whole, has been the source of great interest
for researchers over the last decade (1; 2), and one of the key findings has
been that it is something which develops and becomes more important as the
player gets older (3).
Since being appointed to the role in February 2014,
the former Hereford coach has worked hard to establish
a strong rapport throughout the England squad and
support staff.
“It’s about little things,” explained Pugh.
That can be linked to coaches often surpassing the player’s parents as their
main social support after the age of 16 if the player is pursuing a sporting career
(3; 4), and so a positive relationship between the two is important to further
development (4).
Within that, there are various dynamics involved that influence the success of
coaching and the performance success of players (1) – one of those being, trust
“Like guiding the players around St. George’s Park, there are
quite a few obstacles. If a new coach comes in and walks
players into things they are going to lose trust with them
on the pitch.
It is an element of the relationship that can be formed before, during and
after sporting activity (5) and is an important component of positive player
development (4).
“So it is important that you don’t just switch off when you
finish your coaching session. You need to make sure the
players feel comfortable in everything they do or as close
as you can to that. That is where it starts for me.”
For instance, when a player is performing a task, technique or skill that involves
an element of risk, it is important that the player understands and has a positive
expectation of the coaches’ intentions and behaviours during a potentially
vulnerable time(5).
Pugh reveals that if done properly the pay-off
is considerable.
That can support the player to feel more comfortable in the environment
created by the coach (5) and, as a result, the player can accept the coach’s
actions during these risky situations and allow for a bond of trust to be formed
between the two (6).
“Once you do gain that level of trust these players have
got an unbelievable commitment to doing what they are
told, even to the extent that some of the tactics will mean
they will get bashed about a bit.
“There are times where they need to block opposition
players coming through and they know it is going to
happen, but they trust that if you get the tactics right
and they do the right things, they will win games.
That is really important.”
Communicating those tactics, Pugh reveals, is also
a key skill requiring strong verbal as well as
physical direction.
1 Caliskan, G. (2015) An Examination of Coach and Player Relationships According
to the Adapted LMX 7 scale: A Validity and Reliability Study. Measurement in
Physical Education and Exercise Science. 19, 22-33.
Keryn is one of the most
experienced players in the
England set-up, having
made his debut for the
national team in September
Since then he has gone on
to make 90 appearances
for both England and
Great Britain, scored nine
international goals, and
featured in five European
Championships, two World
Cups and two
Paralympic Games.
Domestically, he has
played for two clubs since
the national league was
set-up in 2008 - Worcester
Blind Football Club and
Merseyside Blind FC, who he
joined in 2013.
2 Yang, S. X. & Jowett, S. (2013) The psychometric properties of the short and
long versions of the coach–athlete relationship questionnaire. Measurement in
Physical Education and Exercise Science. 17, 281–294.
“Clear and concise information is important,”
he explained.
3 Höll, L. & Burnett, C. (2014) Changing Relationships with Significant Others:
Reflections of National and International Level Student-Athletes. South African
Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation. 36 (2),
“We train and replicate scenarios over and over again
until that long discussion about something can be
quickly mentioned in two or three words.
4 Jowett, S. & Ntoumanis, N. (2004) The coach–athlete relationship questionnaire
(CART-Q): Development and initial validation. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine
& Science in Sports. 14 (4), 245-257.
“We can say two or three words such as “diamond”,
“1-1-2”, and they’ll literally know exactly what they have
got to do.”
5 Nikbin, D., Hyun, S.S., Iranmanesh, M. & Foroughi, B. (2014) Effects of Perceived
Justice for Coaches on Athletes’ Trust, Commitment and Perceived Performance:
A Study of Futsal and Volleyball Players. International Journal of Sports Science
& Coaching. 9 (4), 561-578.
“Different people like different things, so I try to show two
or three different ways of giving the players information so not only verbally and descriptive but also making them
feel what we want them to do.
Keryn Seal
6 Dirks, K.T. & Ferrin, D.L. (2002) Trust in Leadership: Meta-Analytic Findings and
Implications for Research and Practice. Journal of Applied Psychology. 87 (4),
Dan English
Dan English was scouted to
play for his country at 17 years
of age, having been spotted
while playing at college in
Loughborough by ex-England
manager, John Ball.
He made his first appearance
against Spain and has since
gone on to play a further 66
games for the
Three Lions and Great Britain,
scoring 13 goals.
In January of this year,
English was named England
The Boot Room
38 | 39
Issue 12
April 2015
cts of the
Tony Carr’s career in youth development spans over 40 years, a period in which he helped
develop numerous international players. Here, West Ham’s former Academy Director talks to
The FA’s Graeme Carrick about the environment which has allowed talent to flourish.
How do you create a player centred
The most important thing has always been
to make the player feel comfortable in the
environment they were in and ensure they
weren’t afraid to express themselves or to show
what they were about as individuals.
As staff we always had a smile on our faces and
made sure it was an enjoyable environment for
the players.
For coaches, the aim has to be that the players
leave the training ground wanting more. We
wanted them to be desperate to come back and
do another session.
We always felt that in the junior years it had to
be a learning environment and it would be an
enjoyable experience.
If you can create that then you’ve got a
better chance of finding out what these young
players can do, rather than creating a
fearful environment.
You have played a part in the development
of a number of international players. What
was it that these players had that meant they
progressed through the system?
It’s not just about their ability. It’s about
their determination, dedication and their
eagerness to get to where they want to be.
When I look back the players that progressed
were impatient, they were impatient in the
youth team because they wanted more. They
wanted to be in the reserve team and when
they were in the reserve team they wanted to
be in the first team. They were impatient and
they worked very, very hard at their game.
All those boys - Glen Johnson, Joe Cole,
Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard, Rio
Ferdinand, Jermain Defoe - all had that steely
determination to be the best they can be and
made lots of sacrifices along the way.
How early can you see that
determination emerging?
I think you can spot a strong character. You can
spot it if someone wants it easy and doesn’t want
to put the effort in. They might be one of the best
players in the group, but they might be content
to be what they already are and not determined
to push themselves to the next level.
What sticks in your mind about Rio Ferdinand
and Frank Lampard when they were
They both loved the game. We used to have
a small sports hall at Chadwell Heath training
ground where we would do a morning and an
afternoon session. After we’d finish, they were
still in the gym until late into the afternoon.
Frank and Rio and a boy called Joe Keith would
be playing a game they used to call ‘D’s’. You had
to chip the ball from one D [penalty area] to the
other D, and you had to control the ball with one
touch and get it back with two touches, but the
ball always had to land in the D at the other end.
The most important thing
has always been to make the
player feel comfortable in the
environment they were in and
ensure they weren’t afraid to
express themselves or to show
what they were about
as individuals
The Boot Room
40 | 41
Issue 12
April 2015
They were forever playing this game and were
always asking to play one more point and I always
used to think what great young dedicated boys
they were, always doing extra. It wasn’t until a few
years later that they told me that they stayed in
the gym so they didn’t have to do the jobs in the
dressing room.
Joking aside, that’s what they would do.
They would make up their own games and they
would practice, they would do their own chipping
practices for a bit of fun. And because two or three
of them were in there doing it, two or three others
would get attracted to it, so they would want to
practice it and to play. It bred a group of players
that did extra work, practised their techniques and
that has taken them through their career.
During his tenure at the West Ham academy,
Tony Carr helped the development of a number
of future England stars including Glen Johnson,
Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand,
Jermain Defoe, and Joe Cole.
They would make up their
own games and they would
practice, they would do their
own practices for a bit of fun.
And because two or three of
them were in there doing it,
two or three others would get
attracted to it, so they would
want to practice it and to play
Would you say doing extra work is a trait of the
very best players?
I can remember that Frank Lampard's dad told
him to go and buy a pair of spiked running shoes,
because he needed to get quicker. Every day after
training he would get his spikes on and come back
out and do his sprints. Even on his day off, when he
was in and around the first team, he would do it.
I would be coaching the youth team - when it
was a day off for the first-team - and Frank would
come in and put two markers out - one on the
edge of each penalty area - and he’d be sprinting
from penalty area to penalty area and then he’d
jog back and he’d be doing that for 45 minutes.
Sprinting and jogging, sprinting and jogging.
The players that
progressed were
impatient, they were
impatient in the youth
team because they
wanted more. They
wanted to be in the
reserve team and
when they were in
the reserve team
they wanted
to be in the
first team
I used to stop the youth team training sometimes
and ask the players what they noticed about
the training ground and the players would say
nothing. Then I would say, “look at that player
over there, he’s in the first team and he’s in on
his day off working on his weaknesses”. It’s no
surprise that Frank’s gone on to have the career
that he’s had. Those traits set those guys in
great stead.
How would you define your approach to working
with individual players?
It was about giving the players lots of ideas to
try and to make them think about the game. I’ve
always tried to make the players think about the
game: What their role is, what they have to do,
what are the trigger moments and get them to
think about what they could have done better
at different moments in the game. So in the end
they find their own answers rather than the coach
dictating all of the time.
I always thought that if the coach is constantly
dictating to the players the players just start to sit
in the dressing room and wait to be told what to do.
I think the coach has to set the pattern and the
philosophy, but also you’ve got to give ownership
to the player. The player eventually has to take
responsibility for their own game and their own
performance. Hopefully if you teach players to
be more analytical you’ll have a better chance
of them solving the problems that come when
they’re on the pitch when they play.
Tony Carr MBE is the former West Ham
Academy Director.
For four decades, Carr has overseen the
development of West Ham’s academy
prospects with players such as Glen
Johnson, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard,
Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Jermain
Defoe, all owing much to his skilled youth
development experience.
Graeme Carrick is the FA Regional
Mentor Officer for the North East,
supporting grassroots coaches in
the region.
Brother of Michael, Graeme started
coaching in 2005 after leaving West Ham
United after four years as a player. Carrick
joined Wallsend Boys as an U17s coach
before moving on to Newcastle United’s
academy for a year.
In 2007 he joined The FA working as a
skills coach in Durham for seven years.
42 | 43
England’s Partially Sighted Futsal team tell The Boot Room what they want
from their coaching experience.
What aspects of coaching sessions/games
challenge and motivate you the most?
Steve Daley:
I enjoy the battle of 1v1 and knowing that you
are being challenged by someone else at the
top of their game and finding out how you
compare. I enjoy knowing that my colleagues
and fellow team mates are in the same battle and it comes
down to who wants it more and how you perform in
those individual battles. I like finding out if you have done
enough preparation to win that individual battle for the
benefit of the team.
Jeremy Vernaeve:
Playing against a good side motivates me but
also having the challenge of playing against a
good individual player and trying to win the
1v1 dual. In training I like 2v2 and 3v3 sessions
which link to games. Often these games include goalscoring opportunities and involve a competitive edge.
Andy Reading:
As a goalkeeper I love saving as many shots
as possible in a training session and the
very nature of futsal allows this to happen.
Specifically in a goalkeeper session I really
enjoyed being placed in different situations and scenarios
that encompassed decision-making, positioning and
using and developing different plans of actions for these
situations. By going through this process it would make
me feel like I was ready for anything, offering flexibility to
adapt to any situation. Working with a goalkeeper coach
allowed me to then apply these learning experiences into
match situations. There’s no greater motivation than using
the preparation to stop the opposition from scoring.
Josh Pugh:
I can feel motivated by any type of session
as long as I feel it is contributing towards the
team’s chances of winning and me improving
as a player. Whether the session is an opposed
practice with lots of opportunities to score or walking
through set pieces, I want to feel like what I’m doing is
contributing towards us winning the upcoming game or
tournament. In my opinion that should be the motivation
for any elite adult player. As sportsmen a competitive
element to a practice also helps development in all
four corners.
The Boot Room
44 | 45
England partially sighted Futsal head coach, Ian Bateman,
Issue 12
shares tactical information with his team.
April 2015
Steve Daley:
What coaching advice or activity
has helped you develop?
Steve Daley:
As I am the oldest player I require different aspects to maintain my
performance and I am fully aware I cannot play every minute of every game.
It is essential that both the coach and I have a good understanding of how
far to push me during training, ensuring I have enough left to perform in the
games which really count. Ian Bateman [Head Coach] recognises this and we
communicate to understand what is best for the team during the game and
also for future games.
How does the coach help?
Jeremy Vernaeve:
Steve Daley:
The coach helps by setting scenarios in the practice that
are realistic to the game and that are time bound and
challenging. As players we are also encouraged to try and
solve a problem and then the coach will help if we need
it. Often this will include using a white board to recreate
situations. This helps me to visualise the problem and help
develop a solution.
The coach sets individual tasks and practices to ensure
we play to our strengths, matching you up in terms of
the opposition’s strengths and your strengths and where
you can do the most damage for the benefit of the team.
Different situations call for different players and people.
Different situations during games will also require different
tactics and players.
On game day we are provided with individual specific
tasks for the game, some of which relates to our past
performances. Prior to the games we are provided with
analysis of the opposition to make us aware of what we
are likely to face.
On game day there is familiar music in the changing room
and on court which helps me to focus on the game ahead.
The use of positive language at key times within the game
can help give us belief as players.
Josh Pugh:
The coach can help by outlining the purpose of the
practice and then it should finish with players being able
to recognise when and how to put this into a game. If the
session is fun then that’s great, but in my opinion the
coach's job is to create a practice which is going to help
the players learn. Sometimes it’s about self-discovery but
there’s also a place for specific instructions.
Andy Reading:
As a coach myself specific drills are set-up to reinforce
the scenario. Normally I would increase the level of the
practice in stages of difficulty: more decisions to make,
more shots to save, make the practice multi-functional.
I would see myself as more of a facilitator, and try to
encourage the goalkeeper to think for themselves, pose
questions, challenge why something did or didn’t work
out: was it technical? was it tactical? The beauty of
working in stages is the goalkeeper will develop the basic
knowledge of the situation and then apply into a real
situation. For this reason most participants will know what
was good or what needed to be worked on. The coach is
there to guide them in the right direction.
"In the European finals the players
were encouraged to discuss a problem
and come up with a suitable solution
using the tactics board."
"I have benefited from Josh Pugh:
has helped me develop the
discussion around a What
most is an environment where I
trusted to make good decisions
problem that we are going am
but given specific instructions
to face on the court. The at the right time as well. For me,
biggest element to learning
environment that has the
anything is good repetition. It’s
being in a practice or a game
been created means that about
where what we are learning arises
this is where the players enough times for me to recognise
happening and practice it to the
have maximum input" itpoint
where it becomes instinctive.
Jeremy Vernaeve:
I have benefited from discussion around a problem that we are going to face
on the court. The environment that has been created means that this is where
the players have maximum input. In the European finals the players were
encouraged to discuss a problem and come up with a suitable solution using
the tactics board. The coach allowed all of the players to discuss the situation
and used very open questions to stimulate the debate. This was especially
useful for some of the younger players who shared their ideas with the older
players. I personally found it very useful to understand other players' thoughts
and opinions.
Andy Reading:
I have been in a fortunate position of working / observing many futsal
coaches both domestically and abroad. Watching coaches from diverse futsal
cultures - how they communicate and generally go about their work - has been
invaluable. I try to take the coaching methods, theories and futsal knowledge
that sits well and incorporate it into my ethos, which is to give the players the
tools to make their own decisions and find their own solutions. It’s about trying
new concepts and working out if that method is for you.
Steve Daley is a one of
England’s greatest ever
servants, having captained
the visually impaired national
Futsal team for 17 years,
scoring 60 goals and making
121 appearances. He started
his international career in 1995
and went on to play in six World
Cups and seven European
Championships for the Three
Lions. Now a player/coach for
the England PS Futsal squad, he
is also assistant coach for the
England B Futsal team.
Jeremy Vernaeve:
Jeremy Vernaeve has
made over 30 appearances
and featured in five major
championships with the
England partially sighted
squad since making his debut
in 2010. He has also turned
to coaching, with a role at
the University of Worcester’s
futsal team combined with
his work as a director of futsal
development company,
Futsal Vision.
Andy Reading:
Andy Reading is a goalkeeper
coach with the England
Partially Sighted and Swedish
national futsal teams. During
his career he has enjoyed
spells working with a series
of international and club
set-ups including Guyana
Football Federation, Bristol
City, Southampton, Brazil,
and New Zealand. As a
former player, he featured
for a string of domestic and
overseas futsal clubs including
Grimsby, London United,
and Romanian side ACS Sport
Club Odorheiu Secuiesc
Futsal Club.
Josh Pugh:
Josh Pugh is an experienced
member of the England
squad, having played in
four major tournaments
including two European
Championships, one world
games and a World Cup.
While not on national team
duty, Josh plays for National
League Futsal for Derby.
The Boot Room
46 | 47
Issue 12
April 2015
Coach reflection – what have you
learned from the players' thoughts?
How do you ensure you create the best possible
learning environment for the players?
Ian Bateman – Head Coach:
As I have developed as a coach I feel that
I have gathered more experience and felt
more and more comfortable at giving
more responsibility to the players both in
practice and relating practice to match situations. Rather
than being coach dominated the players are involved
throughout the planning and review process, an approach
which has now spread to the planning of match tactics.
My feeling was that the players seemed to enjoy the
practices that were competitive, directional, matched up
in numbers and that had goals and goalkeepers included.
The tempo was at match level or even higher and there
would be repetition of similar pictures that the players
would see on game day.
As we spent more time in these types of practices the
group seemed to make better decisions on game day.
When we analysed the sessions we found the evidence
that the players were achieving huge returns across all
four corners of the player development model. Sports
science data for GPS and heart rates proved this in the
physical corner and some sessions were specifically
developed to improve focus and concentration.
I think the players enjoy being competitive and being
placed in tough situations where they know they need to
work hard to achieve the goals that they are being set.
I also think that playing matches is absolutely key since
this is the ultimate test for the players and the coach.
Similarly, the process of identifying a key area or areas to
work on in the game either individually or as a group or
team and then providing feedback on this area is critical.
It is critical to clearly outline your session/match aims so
the players know exactly what they are trying to achieve,
they then need time to process this and work out how it
will affect their game individually and as a group.
Sharing ideas within the group was hugely beneficial in
Italy at the recent European Championships in our pre
game briefings. This is by no way a short cut for the coach,
since I needed to be even better prepared to be able to ask
the right questions and make sure that we still had clarity
of message even though there was input from a full squad
of players. Ensuring all the players have a voice is also
The players also appreciate working one-to-one with
the coaching staff. This can be on the practice court,
a chat after training or a quick reminder in the changing
room pre-game. Before the game these are carefully
chosen words linked to the key messages that we are
focussing on.
Steve Tones –
Assistant Coach:
Since winning World Bronze in Sendai, Japan
in 2013 the England PS Futsal coaching staff
have been intensely reflecting on both our
coaching system and playing patterns. Essentially our
coaching pedagogy (learning and teaching) in its widest
sense has come under methodological review.
The following thoughts provide a brief insight in to what
we have learnt about coaching elite futsal players. We
recognise that what we are doing as a coaching group is
very complex and challenging, although it is also the very
essence of this that provides the draw and attraction for us.
Perhaps the single biggest feature of our work is the
fact that as a coaching group we attempt to share
everything we do that links to coaching futsal. We consider
collaborative and peer review to be critical to both the
way we work and the way we want to work. Consequently,
coaching sessions are planned together; all coaching
sessions are ‘open’ sessions and are observed by each
other and game analysis and review is conducted in
small and larger groups. There is too much written about
collaborative learning to put into this short discussion
but perhaps Gorkale’s (2005) idea that as coaches we are
all individual but can be joined together (if we choose)
by collaborative walkways seem to fit our emerging
As a coaching group we have attempted to draw on
ideas from experts in futsal but also, and perhaps more
importantly, from other fields – critically it is a range of
different perspectives that we are after. We have a belief
that learning improves quicker through a regular exchange
of ideas - the import and export of learning ideas. As a
result we have used sports ideas from handball, basketball
and recently tennis, we have adopted practices from
the best futsal coaches we have met and taken learning
practice ideas from Smith and Claxton and converted them
into Futsal friendly ideas.
Ian Bateman in discussion with
one of his players. The England
coach believes it is critical to
outline clearly your session/
match aims so players know
what they are trying to achieve.
In support of this notion, Rafa Benitez, in his key note
presentation at the FA Pro Licence Course stressed the
importance for coaches to be willing to look to others for
self-improvement:“in football you can be playing all your
life and you will have your vision, but you need to have
different ideas and different people telling you how to
approach a problem, because it will make you better. If you
approach a problem in two or three different ways you will
see the solution easier.”
Learning from drafts
We have adopted the concept that we draft and
re-draft our work in that all our coaching practice is
on-going therefore formative in a lot of ways. During
the spaces between match play and training practice
we review and re-draft our thinking and ideas. We
have become used to the layering idea that is a feature
of drafts in that it has often taken us several drafts
of an idea to get it right or for that idea to fit in with
our coaching. This has often been about tactical or
strategic play but sometimes it is about addressing
the needs of demands associated with tournament
play. Adams (2014) draws attention to the idea that
drafts are an essential part of the learning process
which can support creativity (essential at the elite level
of the game).
Obsession for learning
We have taken Clive Woodward’s idea about elite
coaches having a healthy obsession for detail quite
literally. In an attempt to improve the final game results
we have focused attention on getting the details and
processes of international competition correct – in the
belief that if the processes are secure the game results
will take care of themselves.
Pedagogical variety
The focus of our coaching is always game specific,
with quality rather than quantity led information. The
essence of our coaching mantra is based around the
notion of holistic teaching and learning. Consequently
our coaching has a focus on:
Cognitive (strategies, tactics, and systems of play)
Physical (fitness, performance techniques, and
fundamental game skills)
Mental (life skills and learning how to deal with
pressure, handling adversity, and working with
others, respect, patience, and self-reliance)
Ian Bateman:
is a member of The FA Youth Coach Educator team
with responsibility for futsal. He is also currently Head
Coach for the England Partially Sighted Futsal Team,
and has previously worked as a FA Regional Coach
Development Manager (5-11) as well as at Bolton
Wanderers academy.
Steve Tones:
is the Director of Partnership in the Faculty of
Education and Children’s Services at the University
of Chester. He leads a pathway in the new MA
programme – Creativity and Education for the
Professions and is an Assistant Coach with the
England Partially Sighted Squad.
The Boot Room
Issue 12
April 2015
Many clubs have a philosophy or vision for how they want
their team to play. But how do we support the individual
development of players whilst trying to achieve an overall
club vision? FA Youth Coach Educator, Ben Bartlett,
provides an insight.
48 | 49
The Boot Room
50 | 51
Issue 12
April 2015
A Japanese proverb, highlighted by James Kerr in his book
Legacy, states: “vision without action is a day-dream;
action without vision is a nightmare”. With this in mind,
lecturer and coach developer Bob Muir has proposed the
model below, asking coaches to consider whether in the
work they do with their players the four aspects align:
Are they
"Establish and agree a
set of trademarks and
benchmarks of what you
want the game to look like"
Model of performance
Player capabilities
Player development
Coaching practice
How you would like your team to play and/or
players to be able to perform. This will be different
dependent upon the environment, the beliefs of the
people involved within your club/organisation or the
associated expectations.
What the players in your programme/club/team are
currently capable of doing. This will generally be formed
of a profile of your players across the four corners.
The way in which you structure the player
development programme to support the players
to progress from their current capabilities to the
expectations outlined within your model
of performance.
What does performance need to look like to
play in the first team?
The coaching behaviours adopted to help the players
to develop towards your model of performance.
This could include a practice philosophy, favoured
coaching styles and the ways a coach individualises
their behaviours for their players.
Practice structure
Staged approach
Attacking systems
Holistic development
Defending systems
Coach behaviour
Matched to Model of Performance
Player centred
Set Pieces
Culture and environment
Team Development
For example, if part of your Model of Performance is to
use a high press in all of your games then it may be helpful
to identify what demands that places upon the players.
This could be achieved by researching the actions of the
highest performing teams during a number of games. The
Passes Allowed per Defensive Action (PPDA) measure is
one way this can be done. PPDA is calculated by dividing
the number of passes allowed by the defending team
by the total number of defensive actions (tackles,
interceptions, challenges, fouls).
Both of the values will be calculated with reference to
a specific area of the pitch. Seemingly, the lower the
PPDA value the higher levels of intense pressure. There
will also be a requirement physically for a team to press
intensely to attain a low PPDA score. Once we have
A Women's Premier League top 4 club recruiting and developing players with
Play out from the back with
Changing speed of play
through midfield
Creating and converting chances
Syllabus themes
Forward play
Changing tempo
Playing in wide areas
Playing approach
U14 – U19
When to press
When to mark players/space
a picture of the PPDA we would like to attain, we can
begin to look at what our players are currently capable
of in relation to the target and construct a programme
of training to support the team in all four corners. This
is only one aspect of a performance model but is used
here to illustrate the point.
In a previous role, myself and colleagues were tasked
to develop a performance plan for an elite women’s
football club which would both support the first team to
succeed as well as create an underpinning philosophy
and development programme for young players aged 8
and upwards.
technical, tactical, physical and psychological skills to compete internationally
Coaching philosophy
Hard work, learning and development, respect and responsibility
Syllabus Themes
Marking and intercepting
Defending late
Defending the counter
Defending with duals
Play football
Play to the laws and spirit of the game
Provide opportunity for players to develop individually within team context
Within our values, seek to win
Player characteristics
Refined, rubbery, resourceful and reflective
The Boot Room
52 | 53
Issue 12
April 2015
Playing Vision: Three ways of playing out from the back
Some, most or all of the defensive
players drop within the depth of the box
to receive. This would encourage us to
play short to draw the opposition in or
drive past the press.
The traditional shape associated with
playing out from the back. This provided
the opportunity for centre backs and full
backs to receive and either start the attack
or support it with attacking movements.
In this situation, the full backs commence
in a very high position, generating space
for the team to either play in between (the
space created by the full backs being high)
and for the wide forwards to come in field.
Initially, our eyes were drawn away from the areas to
improve as the player was effective and scored many
goals and impacted upon games. However, to fulfil our
model of performance, we were conscious that ignoring
her struggles in playing with her back to goal and between
the lines that we may be failing to support her to achieve
her potential. Understandably, the player often resisted
the decision to come short to get on the ball as it regularly
didn’t go particularly well.
Our job was three fold:
a.Spend time with both the team and the individual
to reinforce the model of performance for changing
the speed of play through midfield and creating and
converting chances. One aspect of which was for central
forwards to come short and wide forwards to drive in off
the line.
In field
Our vision contained elements associated with
performance goals for the team and targets for player
development. The overall vision sought to combine the
importance of senior success with an internal player
development pathway.
Within this vision a playing approach was outlined which
contained three elements for in possession and three for
out of possession play. For example, there were three
considerations for the way we wanted to play out from the
back with accuracy, which are illustrated above.
These were principles of the way we wished to play. Our
coaches worked with the players to practise each of
these and supported them towards making appropriate
decisions at different times.
For the eleven a side teams we adopted a two system
approach, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3, with the plan of playing both
systems equally to allow the players to experience playing
out from the back within different systems. The systems
were chosen based upon the approach of our first team
In between
b.Provide opportunities in both practice and competition
for players to practise this aspect of the game in order
to get better at it and generate an environment where
the players could trial and error.
c. Support the players through off-field discussion
(information feedback) to develop a deeper
understanding of when and how to execute
certain decisions.
Player involvement in this process was crucial, both to
empower them to drive and lead their development and to
support their understanding of its value in their collective
We utilised a variety of methods to generate a picture of
behaviour: video analysis, notational analysis (assessing
how often certain players made certain movements and/
or performed certain actions) player-to-player feedback
to build visual examples, numerical statistics and player
led qualitative discussion. All of these methods allowed
us to measure the player’s progress and, over a number
of seasons, support the development of a more rounded
player who has played Premier League, Champions
League and International Football.
and the approach of the home international squads at
the time. This supported some variability but within
structures that the players were likely to experience as
they progressed. This was supported by a player rotation
policy which allowed players to experience up to three
different positions in the 11 v 11 format with a more
flexible approach in the younger age groups.
2.Off the field: define roles and common language along
with the cues and patterns that you would like the team
and the individuals to respond to
This is an example of how coaching behaviours and the
player development programme aligns to the model of
performance. If your vision is for tactically adaptable
players then the coach behaviours should, probably,
provide the opportunity for players to develop this.
The experiences within point three provide information
that is feedback to support the players to reflect upon and
improve their decision making process in relation to the
model of performance. This approach implies a greater
ownership for the players to understand and make decisions
within a shared idea of how the game can be played.
This player’s challenge was individual to her, however, it
was necessary to share this with the other players and
link it to the model of performance to ensure that as well
as our collective model being shared the individual aims
were as well. Whilst this requires an environment where
individual and collective trust are key principles, this is a
key psychological and social aspect of the process.
Using this approach we supported the development of an
attacking player who joined our club aged 10 and, from our
initial profiling, was quick, strong and powerful with the ball
at her feet, particularly when facing forward. Her technique
and decision making, particularly when playing between
the opposition midfield and defensive lines, were areas
to improve.
Additionally, like the player in question, every player
will have different things that they’re practising – the
challenge for the coach is to seek to align and support
the management of individual player needs within a
collectively agreed model. The practice philosophy
articulated in The Boot Room Issue 10 provides some
support with this.
Pam Richards’s work on decision making in elite sport
suggests that to generate enhanced decision making skills
in complex environments, of which football is an example,
it is valuable to:
1.Establish (and agree with those involved) a set of
trademarks and benchmarks as to how you want the
game to look (Model of Performance)
3.Provide on field practice opportunities allowing players
to practice making decisions in relation to points one
and two
The Boot Room
Issue 12
April 2015
Match experience
Multi - sport?
Position specific?
Game format
Pitch size
Game surface
(e.g. 5v5, 6v6, 8v8, 11v11 etc)
(e.g. Mini-Soccer, 9v9, 11v11, Futsal)
(Grass, concrete, astro, hard court)
Club philosohpy
Game situation
Game environment
(e.g. Play against an opponent bigger than you; play 8v9 look to break down a
team who defend deep)
(e.g. League, cup, tournament, friendly)
Age 5
Foundation phase
We also adopted a player matchday experiences system
(above) which allowed us to organise and track the
experiences each player would be exposed to.
In the centre of the model is the player and we asked the
age group coaches at our club to consider:
1.Do the player tasks link to the needs of the individual
and/or the needs of the group?
2.How does the current syllabus theme incorporate into
the match-day experience?
3.In what ways can the staff devise a games programme
that provides a variety of experiences:
a. How many players will be on each team (format)?
b. What pitch size and surface will they play on?
c. What different game situations will they be exposed
to (teams that play direct, teams that defend later,
teams that have quick forwards etc)?
Youth develop
d. How will the game environment challenge the
players (how hostile will it be: degree of competition,
behaviour of opposition, crowd, foreign
environment etc)?
Our job was to provide a variety of experiences and
then track the experiences the players were exposed to,
preparing them for the future by not necessarily repeating
the same experience but providing a range of exposures
that could support them to be adaptable and responsive.
As a footnote, a few months ago I was speaking to a club
development officer at a local grassroots club who has
spent a considerable amount of time establishing a club
ethos and a development framework to support the adults
and children’s behaviour.
Their vision was quite different from the one stated early
in this piece, it was: “to provide equality of opportunity for
our children to become well rounded people”.
ment phase
Professional development phase
As a result they tracked whether each player had fair
playing time across the season, rewarded examples
of supportive and collaborative behaviour by players
and coaches (instead of top goal-scorer, league
winners) and had coaches meetings and rotation of
coaches to work with other teams in order to share
It was an excellent model: a clearly stated vision (or
model of performance) which aligned with their
behaviours and development principles. There was
an agreement in what it was they wanted to achieve
and a development programme and behaviours that
helped the stated aim to be achieved.
Those interested may wish to further explore the
work of Pam Richards and Bob Muir. For more on
measuring performance goals for your team see the
Commitment article in issue 9 of The Boot Room.
Ben Bartlett is an FA Youth Coach Educator
working with coaches and players in academies
and centres of excellence.
Ben’s previous roles include FA Regional Coach
Development Manager for the East, Technical
Director for Women's and Girls’ football at Chelsea
FC and nine years in a range of coaching and
development roles at Colchester United.
point of
FA Tutor and academy
coach, Andy Lowe discusses
the need for a differentiated
coaching approach and avoidance
of sessions where all players
complete the same task.
Differentiation is
crucial at all levels,
no matter the type of
coach or experience.
The holistic approach encouraged on
The FA Youth Award courses is fundamental
in developing an environment that serves to
place the player and their needs at the core of the
coaching process. The modern day coach must take
into consideration aspects that previously might have
been neglected. Primarily, these include the environment
surrounding the players, effective and individualised learning,
differentiated sessions, understanding how players learn, support
for each player as well as appropriate management of mistakes
and difference. In addition all sessions should attempt to link with the
intertwined Long Term Player Development (LTPD) model.
Emerging are the distinct links between education and the coaching environment.
Gradually, the concept of differentiation is becoming prevalent and more important to the
modern day youth coach. A question to consider is why has this fundamental approach not
previously been utilised effectively? Coaching individual players is beyond teaching topics and
themes. There is a need for a differentiated coaching approach that enables young players to realise
their individual potential, regardless of differing levels and stages of development.
56 | 57
In simple terms, differentiation is the attempt to meet the
needs of each individual within a coaching session. This
attempt is not a one-size-fits-all session, coaching the
same outcomes to each player. There are many reasons
why a one-size-fits-all coaching approach should not
be used but this is still evident in many sessions. As an
approach it can be detrimental to player development,
stifle motivation, confidence and self-esteem. Common
misconceptions are that differentiation only applies in
a classroom environment or educational establishment
but this is misguided, it is equally important for a
grassroots coach to an academy coach and teacher.
Differentiation is crucial at all levels, no matter the type
of coach or experience. As a PE teacher, the use of
differentiation is essential when teaching mixed ability
groups and enhancing individualised learning. Utilising
a differentiated coaching approach is fundamental to
meeting the needs of players.
Players learn and develop at varying stages dependent on
ability, and coaches may encounter players with significant
differences that affect individual learning in a single
session. These are likely to include differences in age and
maturity, stages of development, ability, understanding
and motivation levels. Taking these factors into
consideration, why do coaches set the same tasks to every
player in a session? The theme of a coaching session may
be centred on receiving, with the main focus of receiving
the ball to play forward but the tasks and methods to
achieve this goal should not be the same for every player.
The theme and session remain centred on receiving but
variances of space, task, equipment and players should be
altered and differentiated to meet personal player needs.
This approach is paramount to aid progress and learning,
ensuring the best environment for all players.
Players progress at varying rates and it is likely that
in a session players will fall into differing categories
dependent on task, challenge and/or situation. Players
might be striving to keep up, coping or forging ahead,
as shown in Figure 1. What is the most efficient way
to deal with this situation and produce a successful
outcome? There are common misconceptions that
strivers must remain together and copers and so forth.
Differentiated planning and knowledge of all players
should ensure a variety of practices and tasks involving
grouping players accordingly.
Figure 1
To keep up
The theme of a
coaching session
may be centred on
receiving, with the
main focus of receiving
the ball to play forward,
but the tasks and
methods to achieve
this goal should not
be the same for
every player.
58 | 59
One player may
find a task fun,
challenging and
be engaged whilst
another in the same
session may find it dull
and too easy to achieve
T ask
When considering differentiation by task, there are a variety of options in the coaching
toolbox that can be used to aid player development. We refer in coaching to
progressions, making practices more challenging or simpler for individuals. Similarly,
these challenges may be different for specific individuals or groups within the
same session. As coaches, we are able to set individual and group challenges
within the same theme and focus. Although simple to do, coaches must be
savvy and know their players, setting appropriate tasks and challenges
to support learning. Even more empowering for players is the
opportunity for a variety of tasks to be set and players to have
a choice of challenge they wish to pursue. Be prepared
that one player may find a task fun, challenging and be
engaged whilst another in the same session may
find it dull and too easy to achieve. With carefully
crafted and planned sessions this can be
avoided. Consider some of these options.
What does a differentiated
coaching approach look like?
Several approaches can be added to the coaching
toolbox. Firstly, study figure 1 and consider your players.
Do you use STEP in your coaching? At various timely intervals,
the coach may adjust the Space, Task, Equipment or Players in
any given practice. When combined together, the use of different
sized areas, tasks, equipment and players in one session can give
many differentiated outcomes for players (figure 2).
Frequently, coaches alter the size and shape of one pitch and this can be
effective. Changing the pitch by reducing size can increase the challenge or
increasing the size may make it easier for a player, depending on the practice.
However, consider having multiple pitches (see figure 2). The theme and focus
of the session can be the same for all players but this can be achieved in different
parameters, with different abilities being challenged accordingly. For example, two
or three different sized pitches to enable all players the opportunity
to work in relation to their stage of development (figure 2).
• Individual tasks/ challenges
• Scenario based tasks
• Matching and loading CF v CB
• Technical/Tactical based tasks
• Rules / Conditions
• Number of tasks
• Time on task
• Player decisions / choice based
on stage of development
Coaching individual
players is beyond
teaching topics
and themes
Very simply, the use of equipment can add to the
challenges and tasks we set our players. This can be
through the addition of more footballs, different sized
footballs, goals, zones marked with spots or cones to
support a challenge or theme. Note of caution, aim to
make use of equipment appropriately to ensure game
related outcomes.
The ways players are used in practices is vast. Coaches
are familiar with even sided teams and overloads.
However, there is a need to use the under-load more to
create real game-like situations. This can be achieved
in skill practices, small groups, large groups and indeed
small sided games. Knowing players, their strengths
and weaknesses and understanding the differentiation
model can be powerful in challenging players by mixing
individuals, pairs, groups and teams. There are numerous
ways of doing this, figure three shows a selection of
examples of how this might look.
Figure 2. examples of practices at the same time utilising different spaces
Next time when planning a session consider the above
and reflect on the feel of the environment, the success
of differentiated tasks and the benefits to your players.
Remember, one size does not fit all.
Coaches are familiar
with even sided teams
and overloads. However,
there is a need to use the
under-load more to create
real game-life situations
Figure 3
Differentiated (Refer to Figure 1)
Examples only
Coping v Forging
Striving / Coping v Coping / Coping
2 Striving / 2 Coping v 1 Striving / 2 Coping
/ 1 Forging
1 Striving / 2 Coping / 1 Forging v 2 Forging
2 Forging v 1 Striving / 2 Coping / 1 Forging
Additional player strategies
Blockers / Interference/ Guards / support
Andy Lowe is a full time Secondary
PE teacher, FA Youth Award tutor
and academy football coach with
Middlesbrough FC, undertaking these roles
for the past 13 years. Andy is also a UEFA
Licensed coach and has tutored for The
FA since 2002 on both the main coaching
and FA Youth Award strand. He is studying
an MSc in Coaching and has an interest
in player development, the coaching
environment and how players learn.
60 | 61
W h at T H E
p l ay e r s
FA Regional Coach Development Manager 5-11, Matt Jones, discusses the reasons
why young people fall out of love with the game and looks at how coaches can use
feedback from the players to improve the coaching and playing experience.
For many of us, our favourite memories of football
whilst growing up involved throwing a few jumpers
down to make goalposts, electing captains to pick
teams and then just playing the game.
Learning more about the reasons why grassroots
players turned their back on the game and finding
out what it is was they wanted from their football
experience was central to all of our work.
This kickabout environment was all about playing
purely for the thrill of the game. Imagination was
central to all the action as individuals emulated
the best teams and star players and creativity
flourished in the random formats of the game such
as Wembley singles and doubles or even 15 vs 15.
During these games opportunities for transition and
playing different positions were plentiful. Crucially,
nobody wanted to stop playing and few wanted to
go home.
We quickly established that young players
wanted to experience all the thrills and enjoyment
of kickabout style football, with a little bit of
guidance and assistance from a coach to help
them get better. Crucially, we also learned that the
interventions and formal coaching shouldn’t be too
extensive, complicated or hinder their enjoyment of
the game.
Three and a half years ago I was involved in The FA’s
Vauxhall Youth Programme, a scheme which was
developed with the aim of addressing the dropout
of players aged 14-17 in the grassroots youth game.
The programme was a richly rewarding learning
experience for me as a coach and a great insight
into how to place the player at the centre of the
football experience and recreate some of the magic
of informal football.
Here is a summary of some of the key learnings >>
Understanding and appreciating why
young players left the game was the
starting point of all of our work
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April 2015
Guide and help, but don’t over coach
Those players who had left the game highlighted that
they still wanted to get better and enjoyed challenges but
they did not want to be over-coached. Therefore it was
crucial that we focused on how the coaching was delivered
and how the individual and group challenges were sold to
them as young people. The idea that they would always
be playing a game proved hugely effective in capturing
their attention and persuading them to play again.
Understand the individual
Understanding and appreciating why young players had
left the game was the starting point of all of our work. The
life of a teenager continues to change and is accompanied
with a variety of alternatives and pressures all of which
can move the focus away from football: academic
studies, other interests, friendship groups, relationships,
technology, to name just a few.
We also found that many of those who had left football
had experienced a poor coaching experience or an
unenjoyable match day environment.
With all this taken into account the informal football
programme was designed to counteract some of those
problems by using an approach that included small-sided
games with subtle coaching challenges. Our supporting
strapline was their game, on their terms.
Coaching in a formal setting often sees the technical
and physical corners of the player development model
prioritised. However I learned that investment in the
other side of the four corner model - focusing on the
psychological and social corners - was just as important,
if not more so, especially during the early stages of
building a coach-to-player relationship.
Investing time in the psychological and social corners is
crucial in order to understand each individual. Showing
the player that you care about them as a person really
Finding time before, during or after a session to ask an
individual how their day has been, who their favourite
player is or how their team got on at the weekend are
basic conversation starters which help build rapport. This
can lead to development of mutual respect as well as trust.
However, it is vital that the coach remains committed to
connecting with the youngsters regularly.
What do the players
want out of their game?
Youngsters of today love the game just
as much as previous generations, so it is
imperative that we let them play. Coaches
with qualifications shouldn’t forget what
it was like to be a player. We should help
them enjoy the experience whilst hopefully
making them better, but at the same time
don’t forget that the game belongs to them.
Understanding what it is that they want from
their game is crucial. This may change from
group to group and person to person, which
is why it is important to invest time in getting
to know them as people, as the answers lie
within their responses. As the coach it’s our
job to use this information wisely and help
bring the session to life. Seeing that their
thoughts and opinions are being considered
is hugely important for young players.
As a coach with a qualification it is crucial not
to forget what it was like to be a player
This approach shows that you care about
what they say, feel and do. This provides
them with a sense of ownership and,
eventually (if we continue to involve
them), empowerment.
League Title vs
League Survival
Use scenarios to
capture imagination
The power of imagination has a strong
appeal to all young players. Helping them
emulate their favourite players, teams and
memorable matches is a great way to help
them engage with the game, whilst also
providing the opportunity to build-in some
purposeful learning.
One of the best examples of how to frame
a coaching session using a game scenario
is from a coaching colleague (Steve Healy)
who introduced me to the game League
Title vs League Survival, which recreates
the circumstance from Man City’s Premier
League win in 2012.
The scenario: Manchester City are 1 - 2 down
to QPR with 10 minutes to play, but with
a numerical advantage after Joey Barton
(QPR) had been sent off. Manchester City
had to win the game to win the Premier
League title; QPR could afford to draw to
avoid relegation and secure Premiership
status for another season.
13th May 2012 @ Ethiad Stadium, 83 mins.
Manchester City
Queens Park Rangers
Team Challenge: Can you make
use of the extra player, whilst
coping with the pressure of
being a goal behind?
Team Challenge: Can you cope
with the demands of being
out numbered both in and out
of possession?
Attacking with an overload
Defending when out numbered
From a tactical perspective, the types of scenarios outlined in the
pull-out box (above) can have multiple outcomes so it’s good to have
a primary focus so that the learning objective is not lost.
There are thousands of game scenarios that you can use to engage the players but it is crucial that every scenario has
a purpose and specific challenges for individuals and/or the team. Remember the primary focus does not have to be
technical or tactical; it may well challenge the players socially and psychologically.
Cup Semi-Final Drama –
Arsenal vs Manchester United
14 April 1999 FA Cup Semi-Final (replay)
With the teams level at 1-1 in extra-time. Manchester
United were a man down following a red card and
were chasing the treble.
Champions League
Final Comeback
25 May 2005 Champions League Final, half-time
at The Attatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul.
AC Milan
Primary Focus: Attacking team
Q. Can you continually recycle possession of the ball to maintain pressure on opponent and maximise
opportunities to score?
Q. Can you maintain patience in attack to make best
use of the overload?
AC Milan
Manchester United
Q. Can you protect what you have got; retain possession of the ball to frustrate opponent?
Primary Focus: Patient attacking with a numerical
Primary Focus: Set a trap to intercept and counter
Q. Can you defend with a view to intercept and score
on the counter-attack? (Bonus points for a SOLO
counter attack; emulating Ryan Giggs).
Primary Focus: Defending team
Understanding what it is that they
want from their game is key
The Boot Room
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Issue 12
April 2015
Allow for choice
Another finding from the programme was that the players
enjoyed having a say in the type of activities and games
that they played during a session. Having individual and
team challenge cards is a great way of including the
players in the decision-making process linked to
session themes.
An example of offering choice through the use of Team
Challenge cards:
The idea that they would always
be playing a game proved hugely
effective in capturing their
attention and persuading them
to play again
Team challenge 1
Team challenge 2
When 'out of possession'
When 'out of possession'
Can you intercept the ball
and try to score a goal within
15 seconds?
Can you intercept the ball
and try to score a goal within
1 minute?
Coaching Notes – ‘Counter-Attack’
Coaching Notes – ‘Counter-Attack / Attack’
Q. How do you set-up to help conquer this challenge? (Formation).
Q. Do you have to attack quickly? (What determines the speed of attack? – Options, opponent).
Team challenge 3
Team challenge 4
When 'out of possession'
When 'out of possession'
Can you intercept the ball
in your opponents' half then
try to score a goal?
Can you intercept the
ball in your own half then
try to score a goal as quickly
as possible?
Coaching Notes – ‘Defending - High Press’
Coaching Notes – ‘Defending - Deep’
Q. What tactic could you use to help conquer this
challenge? (Man-to-man, manufacture a numerical advantage to force a mistake).
Q. Why might you have to retreat to defend in your
own half? (Outnumbered, deny space in-behind, restrict opponent to play in front).
The challenge cards provoke thought in
terms of tactics and strategies of play,
but can also be traded with opponents as
challenges to conquer within the game.
Additionally, you may give the players (if
appropriate) two challenges to conquer
which link the phases of possession (in and
out of possession) and if achieved can earn
the team double points/goals. By linking the
challenges players can also develop their
understanding of transition. An example
challenge would be: try to intercept the
ball in your own half then score within 10
seconds (practice different types of counter
attack: solo, collective and direct).
The challenge card examples are all based
around team challenges, but of course you
could offer individual challenges
(the Raheem Sterling – 1 v 1 skill card or
the Michael Carrick – killer pass card or
the Gary Cahill – interceptor card) which
players can choose.
In summary, understanding the reasons why
players dropped out of the game and the
types of things young people want from the
game are important lessons for any coach
and not just with groups of teenagers. Invest
time in them as young people, find out what
makes them tick and meet their needs.
Interventions and formal coaching shouldn’t
be too extensive, complicated or hinder their
enjoyment of the game
We also found that
many of those who
had left football had
experienced a poor
coaching experience
or an unenjoyable
match-day environment
Matt Jones is the Regional Coach
Development Manager (5-11) in the
East Midlands. After graduating from
the University of Worcester with a
Sports Studies Degree, Matt started
a career in football development
where he has worked in a variety
of roles with both youth and adult
players over the past 10 years. Matt
has worked as Football Development
Officer for the Worcestershire FA as
well as a Regional Youth Development
Officer in the West Midlands for
The FA.
66 | 67
D eve l o p i n g
life skills
FA Mentor, Ceri Bowley, looks at how coaches can use football to equip young
people with skills and techniques that are valuable far beyond the pitch.
Sport has long been associated with developing skills and
behaviours that allow young people to become competent
athletes and people. Researchers have acknowledged
that participation in sports may have the potential to
enhance personal development and improve skills such as
communication and leadership.
Indeed, the President of the International Olympic
Committee, Jacques Rogge, said: “the world of sport is not
separate from the rest of the world. Sport breaks down
barriers, promotes self-esteem and can teach life skills
and healthy behaviour.”
Positive youth development has been described as
lifespan development because adolescents are
being taught skills, values and virtues that help them
during adolescence which will also help them thrive
throughout life.
Life Skills
Focusing on the skills that individuals develop for the
benefit of every day life, the World Health Organisation
defined life skills as ‘the abilities for adaptive and positive
behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with
the demands and challenges of everyday life’.
A study conducted with the players, parents, and coaches
in grassroots football found that life skills were important
for young people to learn. More specifically, social skills,
discipline, respect, personal control, organisation and
leadership were highlighted as life skills themes that
could be developed through football. Under each of these
themes a number of individual life skills were identified.
Life skills developed through football
social skills
Ability to
in different
Showing respect
towards others
The ability to make
Time keeping
Showing respect
towards peers
The ability to
manage distractions
Supporting less
Showing respect
towards coaches
The ability to cope
with winning and
Making friends
Ability to work with
Ability to listen to
others' instructions
and views
Demonstrating good
Being determined to
Being committed
Working hard
Showing respect
towards opponents
Showing respect
towards officials
Showing respect
towards parents
your club
The ability to cope
with challenges
The ability to solve
The ability to cope
with pressure
The ability to
control emotions
Being confident
Preparing properly
in a group
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Issue 12
April 2015
Social Skills
Football Skills
Personal control
If parents know
what you are
trying to achieve,
they will be better
prepared to support
their children in
transferring life skills
Player and Parent Expectations
*56 players asked in focus groups with 4
in each. Players derived from boys only
clubs, girls only clubs, boys and girls
clubs, and BAME clubs. Research was
conducted in 2012. Several follow ups
(Questionnaires, workshop sessions)
have supported the findings.
Coaching Life Skills
56 players, representing a cross-section of the game*,
were asked what motivated them to play football and
what they expected to learn, whilst their parents were
asked what they expected their child to learn from
training sessions. The results are displayed in the
graphs above.
Whilst football has been shown to be a powerful tool
in providing opportunity for young players to develop
their life skills, there is nothing
magical about football and simply
participating will not automatically
result in players developing their life
skills. Instead, life skills are ‘taught not
caught’. Therefore, the coach plays a
significant role in developing practices
and reinforcing messages in order to
both promote life skill development
and facilitate player learning.
Everyone thinks they develop life skills. The truth is
they don’t and life skills can’t be learned in one setting.
One key consideration about life skills
development that is often misunderstood
is that in order for any skill to be classified
as a life skill the learner must be able to
demonstrate competence in transferring
learning from one environment to another.
This means a skill learned in football, such
as communication, may be used at school
when talking to the teacher.
How often do you plan
sessions where you set
out to coach skills in
the psychological and
social corners?
Interestingly, more players expect to learn social skills
than football skills. To put this into context: consider the
average squad of 16 players – if the focus of the session
was upon developing social skills the coach would fulfill
the expectation of 10 players compared to less than four
players if the focus was solely on developing football
skills. This is not to say that as coaches we should only
focus on developing social skills. An integrated approach
is needed. However, it is worth considering whether the
role of the coach should focus on developing good people
before players.
Consider The FA 4 Corner Model for Long Term
Player Development:
The coach has a significant role to play in supporting the
development of life skills in young people as they mature.
• How often do coaches set specific objectives in the
technical corner and expect the psychological and
social corners to develop naturally as a result of
the session?
• How often do you plan sessions where you set out to
coach skills in the psychological and social corners?
Until they are transferred to other
environments these skills are simply skills learned in
football. The importance of transfer cannot be stressed
enough, as without transfer life skills aren’t developed.
As a result we can never be sure that players fully
understand the importance of what they have learned.
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April 2015
A three-step process can be
used by coaches to teach
life skills to their players
Life skills are
‘taught not caught’
Players need to know what they are learning. Without this they
cannot be expected to understand, develop, and transfer their
skills. The message is the learning focus for the session. The coach
communicates the message at the start of the session before
questioning players about their understanding. For example: why
do you think leadership is important in football? What does a good
leader look like?
This is a good time to initiate thoughts around the transfer of the
life skill to other environments. You may ask: where is leadership
important outside of football?
The key messages can be reinforced through the use of various
intervention strategies. Whilst not an exhaustive list the following
have been shown to be effective in reinforcing life skills:
Technical and tactical messages through an
integrated approach
Reinforcing messages with the whole group
Reinforcing the message based upon observation of
successful use by one of the players
Reinforcing the message with individuals
Group work
The use of video to model good practice – this is particularly
powerful when players see themselves performing
This process has already started during the message phase but
now learning is consolidated and plans made for transferring life
skills to other environments. This phase, at the end of a session,
involves a period of reflection for players: individually, in pairs, or
small groups. Reflection is focused upon what the players have
learned during the session and helps the players make sense
of the learning for themselves leading to better understanding.
Once the players understand what they have learnt they can then
plan where and how they will use the life skill away from football,
such as at school, at home or with friends. At the start of the
following session players are given the opportunity to share their
experiences of transferring life skills with their coach and peers.
Obviously the coach cannot be with their players at all times,
and unless it’s their own child will only very rarely see their
players in other environments outside of football. Therefore it
is crucial that a collaborative approach to life skills development
is adopted. The role of the coach here is to facilitate the process
through engaging with parents, guardians, and extended family.
Explaining your approach to coaching and your philosophy from
the outset will help this. If parents know what you are trying to
achieve, they will be better prepared to support their children in
transferring life skills. Involving parents in the transfer phase of a
session will help them become more aware of how their children
intend to transfer the life skill and thus enable them to support
their child in doing so.
Players expect to be taught social skills
and if we are to fully motivate young
players to become the best they can
be it is important that we understand
how we can give them what they
want. Life skills do not automatically
develop through playing football,
instead they must be taught by the
coach. Using the three-step process life
skills development can be integrated
within football sessions. When
planning sessions, consider where
what you are teaching fits to their
wider development as people and help
them make the links between football
and other environments to enhance
transfer of learning.
Ceri Bowley is a football coach and academic who
combines his work as a PhD Researcher at Cardiff
Metropolitan University with his roles as an FA
Regional Coach Mentor Officer, head coach of the
South West Girls Centre of Excellence, and coach
mentor at Herefordshire FA.
For the past three-and-a-half years, he has focused his research on
the design, implementation and evaluation of a resilient coping and
life skills development plan for adolescents within a Football Coach
Education programme.
During that time he has also held roles as a youth phase coach at
Swansea City FC, Girls Player Development Centre Manager for
Herefordshire FA, FA club mentor and Head of Youth/Academy
Director at Merthyr Town Football Club.
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Issue 12
April 2015
72 | 73
and the
Former FA Skills Coach, Edu Rubio, now
working to help U21 players to get back into
the professional game outlines his approach
to developing the individual player within a
collective group.
The Boot Room
Share your vision and
talk openly with the players
A framework for
individuality to flourish
I have always believed that if you
want to work on individual talent,
individual needs and key factors
it must be in a structure. You must
work within an idea.
Every team/club/academy has to
have that identity and I believe every
individual needs that net where they
know what the team wants, expects
and is working on. From there they
can develop their own game.
Encourage the players to set
their own challenges
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Issue 12
April 2015
What sort of
player do they
think they
are? What
are their own
It is very important that at the beginning
of the season you meet as a group and
establish the identity of the team and
outline how you would like to play as a
collective so each individual can flourish.
During those first few weeks we will
observe each player and try to work out
how they may best fit into the overall
framework. This should be a two-way
process and it is crucial to ask the
individual what do they think? What
sort of player do they think they are?
What are their own experiences? What
positions have they played previously?
Value of relationships
It is important that we have a connection with the
players. We talk about the key factors, we have the
reflection together and then we agree certain key
factors that they can work on for the next few weeks.
But they are free to change and revisit their key
factors through their ongoing reflection process.
Concise discussion with a
purpose and conclusion
We don’t like player meetings to be any
longer than 15 minutes. Also, it is very
important to have a conclusion at the
end of the meeting.
Design practices based on the
player achieving their key factors
The individual player and their needs should be at
the centre of all practice design. We will consider
what the players want and need to work on.
The first few minutes is for reviewing the
game. Then the middle part we watch
the clips. The final few minutes we agree
concrete, specific, key factors for the
next game and how to achieve them.
The how is for them and then we can
start tailoring our practices based on
what they have told us that they need.
We film every game and a number of training
sessions. Every player is then given a six,
seven minute video with their own clips and
then we sit down and go through what we call
the key factor reflection process.
On the day before the game each individual
establishes their key factors. They write down
what they think is relevant to them. We don’t
interfere. Then before the game they will
come and present their key factors and their
ideas. We don’t judge. We just get informed.
Then they play the game.
Observe closely and provide
relevant feedback
Focused individual reflection
After the game the players have a day for
reflection; watching the collective team clips
and the individual clips. The idea is that they go
away and they reflect. Some of them reflect by
themselves, others like to reflect as a team or as
units or pairs within the team.
As individual player and coach we will then
discuss. The player will outline their key factors
and then we will have a discussion around the
following questions: why did you choose those
key factors? Within that selection of key factors,
what made you think that was so relevant
for you?
Through questioning some of their key factors
may change and we will agree a common ground.
This is crucial because being told you have to do
something is not the same as having a chat and
coming to an agreement.
If we tell players to work on these three factors,
some of them won’t even bother to ask why.
Then obviously there is no thinking behind it. The
players have to find their own three key factors.
They work out their own reflection and then come
forward to discuss.
Whatever the overall theme of the practice,
which will be designed to help the collective, each
individual should be in their position to help each
individual link the practice to the game and their key
factors. For me, every single practice should have
each player in their relevant position.
During practice sessions it is important to
focus on observation. Just as you wouldn’t
try to coach everything within a practice, it is
the same when observing the key factors and
providing feedback. The feedback only has to
be relevant feedback attached to that practice
and the aspects of the game the individual
players are working on.
Encouraging players to take the
team-talk or debrief can encourage
them to think in a different manner.
Mentor system for
new players
The individual player and their
needs should be at the centre of
all practice design.
Player-led team-talks
and discussions
Encouraging players to take the teamtalk or debrief can encourage them
to think in a different way. It is good
feedback for the coaching staff because
you see what they are thinking and what
they believe.
It is another way of checking learning.
We can see it on the pitch but also how
they reflect and discuss the game in the
one-on-ones and the way they present
in the teamtalks is another measure.
If we have new players who join
part way through the season the
established players will sit down
with the new players and provide
an insight into how we do things.
The current players will learn
more about the new players and
then it is for the coaching staff to
sit with the mentor and mentee
and try to facilitate it so that they
understand each other and don’t
go off topic.
Edu Rubio is the assistant
manager of the Nike Academy
based at St. George’s Park, working
to help players aged under 21 back
into the professional game. Before
joining the Nike Academy, Edu
held coaching roles with Valencia,
MK Dons and Chelsea and also
spent three years as an FA Skills
Coach. Edu is a holder of the
Spanish Pro Licence.
76 | 77
The decision is yours
"It is not how the coaches
coach, but how the goalkeepers
learn that is more important"
FA Goalkeeping Tutor, Keith Granger,
stresses the importance of helping future
goalkeepers make their own decisions and
how significant benefits can be made from
including the goalkeeper in the planning and
reflection process.
At the elite level of the game many of the world’s most
successful teams play from the back, through midfield and
into attack. Whilst this way of playing is both successful
and aesthetically pleasing for observers, it is not the only
way in which to play the game. There are many examples
of successful teams who use a mixed and varied approach,
playing short and also playing long when it’s on to do so.
This is proof that however the game evolves, goalkeepers
must be continually encouraged to make their decisions
based on the situation they are in and the picture that
they see. Too often coaches can be heard shouting ‘give
it’ or ‘that’s your ball’ (in terms of coming for a cross),
instructing the goalkeeper to do as they say.
A goalkeeper sees a dramatically different picture to the
coach who is usually positioned on the half-way line.
Angles and distances that seem to favour the goalkeeper
may not represent the picture the goalkeeper sees. With
this important point in mind, it is crucial to value and
support all goalkeepers when making decisions.
For young goalkeepers to develop effectively they must
be allowed to learn from their experiences. If they make
a wrong decision then learning can take place if they can
work out why it was a poor decision (intrinsic learning).
However, if they are always carrying out decisions
instructed by others (extrinsic learning), then it makes
learning harder. The opportunity to ask: ‘why did I make
that choice and why was it incorrect?’ is lost and learning
If a goalkeeper has the opportunity to play out from the
back the individual must first assess their own decision on
the Risk v Reward scale. Prevented from making their own
choice the pressure on the individual grows.
A goalkeeper should be under most pressure when the
opponents have the ball in the attacking phase, not when
they are in possession of the ball and attempting to carry
out the instruction of the coach.
It is worth considering whether we take it for granted that
goalkeepers understand why they are being asked to train
or perform in a certain way. Do we ever ask them for their
input and feedback?
My experiences tell me that if you include the goalkeeper
within the planning and delivery of sessions they
become emotionally involved and feel that they are
contributing towards their own development and
performance programme.
This is not to say practice sessions should be solely player
led. For me, it’s not about being coach or player led, but
a combination of both. Coaches need to understand how
the goalkeeper learns and have the knowledge to adapt
their training to meet the needs of the goalkeeper. It is not
how the coaches coach, but how the goalkeepers learn
that is more important.
"A goalkeeper sees a
dramatically different picture
to the coach, who is usually
positioned on the half-way line."
Top to bottom: goalkeeper coaches must try and see the game
from the goalkeeper's perspective. Asking the the players for their
thoughts and feedback is an effective way to ensure the session is
player centred.
The Boot Room
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Issue 12
April 2015
If it does not happen in the game or is not connected to
an ability that supports performance, then why coach it? I
have seen many training sessions where an assault course
of cones, hurdles, poles and ladders are used before a save
is made. How realistic is this to the game?
For example, if the goalkeeper is feeling heavy legged resulting from over tensing when in the set position - this
will affect their ability to protect the goal, which in turn
starts the process of the goalkeeper disengaging from
the session. If the goalkeeper stops believing or becomes
bored, this affects concentration.
Coaches must work goalkeepers to the edge of their ability
levels ensuring decision-making and problem solving are
included within the practice. To do so the coach must
understand the physical demands that are being placed
on the goalkeeper. If this is ignored or goes unrecognised
the goalkeeper may disengage, become unmotivated
or lose belief in the session which in turn affects their
decision-making. In this climate it is difficult for players to
realise their full potential.
Sessions must be engaging with the goalkeepers focused.
If the individual is bored through lack of challenge or
is fearful or anxious by being pushed too far, then less
dopamine is produced within the brain. Dopamine is vital
to connect the neurons that support decision making.
I use a matrix for all players to gain their feedback on the
physical, emotional and learning demands of the session.
The feedback gives me the opportunity to understand
fully the needs of the players and plan future
sessions accordingly.
I like to develop goalkeepers who are able to affect the
match when they are involved in the game but also when
they are not directly involved. This allows them to be
proactive rather than just reactive in terms of reading
the game. They need to support their team with game
intelligence and good decision-making in relation to the
time and location of the ball.
As coaches our duty is to develop and help give
goalkeepers the tools and train the abilities that they
require to become effective. Not every save is the perfect
save and effective goalkeepers can make saves by good
positioning alone.
England youth team goalkeeper coach, Simon Smith, oversees a catching
practice. As a goalkeeper coach, being aware of the physical demands
placed on keepers will allow for more effective practice design.
Do we take for granted that
goalkeepers understand why
they are being asked to train or
perform in a certain way and do
we ever ask them for their input
and feedback?
Keith Granger is Director of The
Football Garage Ltd. A UEFA A
Licence and FA Goalkeeper A
Licence holder, he began coaching
at Southampton where he worked
with the club’s first team, academy
players and development centres.
He also works with The Football
Association as a part-time FA Coach
Educator and scout.
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26 | 27
The Boot Room
as CPD
In the past maybe
I haven’t seen the
importance of competition
in training and have
seemed surprised when
players expect to know,
“what the score is” or, “how
long do we have left”?
"It is not just a matter of getting the
ball forward, because the best teams
are highly skilled at defending
against that. It is going to take
various different ways of playing
individually and collectively to
penetrate in attacking areas"
England U15 Head Coach
Dan Micciche and
England Women’s Head
Coach Mark Sampson
discuss the in possession
playing philosophy of the
England DNA.
Issue 11 of The Boot Room continued our new
continued professional development feature offering
subscribers the opportunity to receive one hour of
CPD by answering a series of reflective questions
based on key articles from the edition.
The new initiative was launched as a way of
recognising the commitment of subscribers who use
the publication as a means of furthering their own
In issue 11, we asked five questions which challenged
readers to consider key themes in more detail and to
provide examples of their own ideas from their own
coaching work.
Here we take a look at a selection of the
best responses>>
Nigel Latimer
In the Possession Monopoly article, Dan Micciche and Mark Sampson discuss what
effective possession means to them.
What does effective possession mean to you at your level of the game? What should
effective possession look like with the very youngest players and how does this
change as they progress and develop?
The Boot Room
The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Magazine | Issue 11. December 2014
Nigel Latimer
Effective possession at our level, which is college football
(16-19), would be to develop more game intelligence.
The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Magazine | Issue 11. December 2014
To achieve this we might play attack against defence on
a half pitch with the attackers under loaded or give the
attacking team game scenarios such as “we are winning
with five minutes to go”, or “losing with 20 minutes left”.
"Values and culture
underpin everything
in the England DNA"
Gareth Southgate discusses the
project that will help shape the
future of English football
Possession for the very youngest players could be more
about ball mastery and being able to stay on the ball. This
is the fundamental stage of development and so exercises
with and without the ball around twisting and dodging,
or dribbling and turning are maybe as useful as trying to
string lots of passes together.
As players grow, games such as 2 v 1 and 3 v 2 in different
sized and shaped areas will help develop a game craft.
Issue 11
December 2014
"All the top international
teams have highly
intelligent players who are
capable of controlling the
middle of the pitch in order
to manage the game"
How import
who can pe
Dan Micciche: I
organised defen
on each other m
challenge to pen
What is importa
select the types
organised defen
skill sets to the n
Take Andrea Pir
can unlock an o
through midfiel
drawing defend
up to play.
Or someone like
with the ball, pla
are marked tigh
away from peop
needed to pene
Johan Cruyff fam
opposition into
about in our pla
getting the ball
skilled at defend
different ways o
penetrate in att
Mark Sampson
is incredibly imp
to get fitter, quic
organised, mak
There is also lot
how teams set u
themselves in a
what to do once
The team in pos
potentially not t
create those spa
integrated move
terms of the qua
You have to con
with the right pa
breakdown tigh
on the end of it,
most difficult th
The Boot Room
58 | 59
82 | 83
Issue 12
April 2015
32 | 33
42 | 43
Keep time and
the score to add
“our whole concept
of work is about
educating players”
Graeme Jones, right, with Roberto Martinez
“our style of play is attractive
to play and technically tests
the players every day. As an
approach to working effectively
with players, that is probably
the strongest tool we have got”
In games we will give the
players targets. For example,
six balls to try and score a
goal and six balls to keep
a clean sheet. Players are
competitive by nature, but
these things help keep them
Humility was always an important word at
You never boasted too much if you were successful or if
you won things. I think the humility comes from the city
where we’re from, the culture of the people of Liverpool
and what they expect.
The good thing about our style of play is that it is with the ball. It is
attractive to play and technically tests the players every day. As an
approach to working effectively with players, that is probably the
strongest tool we have got.
Use every coaching style
I have always believed that the power is in the organisation and
the progression of the session, rather than the coach trying to
push and push the players.
There is a time to be demanding and I can do that no problem,
but I think using different coaching styles is vitally important in
order to get the best out of your players.
You can’t be on top of the players all the time. On reflection,
I probably used to be 50/50 between a more considered
approach and shouting. Now it is 90/10. You have to be
demanding of players but ultimately you need to draw on
every coaching skill, rather than just shouting, to get the best
out of them.
We were fortunate because we weren’t starting anything
new or reinventing the wheel. The philosophy was
ingrained at the club from Bill Shankly’s days about how
the club play football and how you behave.
Everything we have ever done is with the ball. Generally all the
players we have worked with at different clubs have always enjoyed
our style of training, and I think working with the ball helps.
Being stimulated tactically is another thing the players want. At
Premier League level you have players whose drug is to improve
and technically and tactically we can feed them that.
People of Liverpool don’t like
people who are big heads or who get
above themselves.
Improvement is an addiction. The top player wants to improve
individually and as a team. That is your job and you have to
stimulate them.
Let talent be demanding of you
The area where we are from and the supporters shape the
club as well as that which has been passed on. The way the
game should be played and the way you should conduct
yourself has been passed on through the generations.
When you are working with players that are
already motivated - you don’t have to demand
from them, they demand from you.
Before we came to Everton we had always been
on the front foot, leading all training sessions
and had been creative, demanding and driven
in the work that we had put on. Then we arrived
at Everton and the players were demanding
and driven with us as a coaching staff.
It was challenging at the beginning. It was a
different motivation. After a while you come
to terms with it and you think how refreshing
it is that you don’t have to do that anymore. It
challenges you in a different way.
I think local lads coming through at clubs is
Never stop the flow of a session
Brendan Rogers is fantastic as he’s always given young
players an opportunity. We’ve got Jon Flanagan and
Jordan Rossiter both coming through.
When I played the style of coaching was “stop, stand still”.
That was accepted back then.
Our approach is to never stop a session. We will coach in
between parts of the practice from the side, when the
session is going on or during a drinks break, but we never
ever stop sessions whilst they’re in flow. Top players are
just like everyone else and just want to play and it has to be
match tempo as well. It needs to be realistic otherwise you
are not going to improve the player.
Everton’s assistant manager, Graeme Jones,
stresses the importance of testing elite
players both technically and tactically in order
to challenge, motivate and engage with them.
What challenges do you use with the players
who you deem technically/tactically strong?
Stephen Adams
Technical challenges – Play with a smaller ball whilst
training, such as a tennis ball, or challenge them to work
solely on their weaker foot to try improve ball work.
Tactical challenges - Play individuals in unfamiliar
positions on the pitch such as a right-footed player playing
in left back position.
Nigel Latimer
As I have become more aware of the five different
coaching intervention styles I am now far more aware of
the returns each one brings.
In the past maybe I haven’t seen the importance of
competition in training and have seemed surprised when
players expect to know, “what the score is” for instance,
or, “how long do we have left”?
These are important components in maintaining a player’s
motivation, and should not be over looked.
Drinks breaks are ideal opportunities to work with players
and can be better managed by having drinks in a specific
area, where tactics boards and other cues can be used.
In all aspects of our work we have collective
responsibility and accountability. Rather than
blaming others or passing on responsibility, we want
the coaching and playing staff to consult on a regular
basis through checks and balances. As coaching staff
it is important to ask the players “What do you think?
How much more work do we need this week? Do we
need more information tactically? Are we prepared at
the level you need?”
Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher talks to
Peter Glynn about Liverpool’s DNA, the art of coaching sessions and
why he believes decision-making is the most important attribute for
any top-level player.
Test the players technically and tactically
“our approach to working with
individual players is always based
around: ‘What can we do for you?’”
For me culture is something we try to
embed collectively.
“The philosophy was ingrained at
the club from Bill shankly’s days
about how the club play football and
how you behave”
I always try to make the
sessions competitive, always.
Keeping the score and timing
different parts of the practice
adds to the competitive
element. We will time how
long players retain the
ball and reward them with
additional turns at keeping
the ball.
Everton Assistant
manager, Graeme Jones,
provides an insight into
his coaching approach,
why he would never stop
the flow of a practice
and how his manner on
the training pitch has
changed over the years.
Chelsea Ladies manager, Emma Hayes, provides an
insight into the methods behind developing a culture
- on and off the pitch - and why success can mean
more than winning and losing.
It’s important that we have that heartbeat at Liverpool.
It’s synonymous with Liverpool football club to have local
players in that team. Supporters identify with that but
it’s also important for the messages they give out to new
players who come to the club.
Therefore if you do lose games you don’t have
players saying “I didn’t know what I was doing. I
didn’t know what my role was.” The culture we are
trying to develop includes a lot of reaffirming through
communication and question and answer.
The reason why I played at the top level
was because I think my decision-making
was pretty good.
I wasn’t the fastest, I wasn’t the strongest, I wasn't the
biggest. I wasn’t very tall for a centre-back at just under
6 foot, so to play in that role I had to be ahead of the
opposition in terms of my positioning and decisionmaking. If I got caught out of position I wouldn’t catch
anyone and I couldn’t out-jump many. I had to find ways
to compensate for my lack of physical attributes.
As a defender the opposition trigger most
of your thinking during a game:
Can I push up, do I drop off? We’ve all got different talent
and skills, but decision-making is the biggest thing in
football. You’re constantly making decisions - every 10 or
20 seconds, probably even more.
“The culture we have
tried to create is
based on striving for
professionalism in every
way, shape and form”
Even if the ball is nowhere near you, you are still making
decisions – what position do I take up, do I push up, do
I drop off, who do I organise. You make thousands of
decisions in a game of football. Every time you move, every
time you speak – you’re making decisions. It’s getting the
decisions right which is key.
Experience helps with decision-making
I think some people just have a good understanding of the
game and some don’t. Ever since I was a kid I would think
about football: I was always thinking about how I’d played
and the position I was playing in. You get some players who
never think about the game. There are players with great
talent but their actual understanding of the game is poor.
Jamie Carragher believes it was his decision-making ability, rather than his speed,
agility or height that allowed him to compete at the top level.
Jamie Carragher was a striker and didn't play
central defence until he was 18, however he
went on to make over 700 appearances for
Liverpool and represent England, playing
mostly in that position.
How does Jamie Carragher's development
journey impact on how you view your own
players? What things can you do with your
group to find out if you have the next Jamie
Keith Boanas
This is something we must all watch for at any level. At
the youngest ages in particular the rotation of positions
should be encouraged.
My own wife started as a centre back with Millwall
Lionesses, but at 15 she was put in goal because she
was always getting carded as a defender. She ended up
playing 60 times for England in goal and is a hall of
fame member.
Stephen Adams
Jamie's development has taught me that young players
don’t need to be concerned with a particular role or
responsibility, because in the long term they might not
end up playing in that particular position.
Instead we should try to give players as much exposure in
all playing positions to give them a better understanding
of most playing positions.
Look at a player's character - what attitude do they
exhibit? Are they motivated? Are they a good learner?
Culture is about developing
the right habits.
Whether that is how we approach our work on the training
pitch to the key training messages centred on our playing
style. We tend to talk about developing a culture more
than a philosophy.
The culture we have tried to create is based on striving for
professionalism in every way, shape and form. The culture
involves the players understanding the importance of
adopting the right emotional daily approach. We want an
understanding that playing football is a profession with
certain professional expectations.
We are blessed in our profession. Many people are getting
up at six in the morning and not getting home until 8pm. It
is important for the players to understand that they come
into work and train well, eat well and then there might be
analysis and additional work. Rather than viewing it as
something that is a lot of effort, they must realise we are in
a privileged position.
Embedding ideas is all about getting
the structure right with your staff.
It is crucial. You have to build relationships with all
of your staff, and that is developed over countless
hours talking about how you want to develop your
club or your team. Once that trust, understanding
and relationship is clear only then can you really
start to articulate it clearly with your players. But it
takes time.
I always say to my staff that one thing that is
important is that we stand side by side, nothing
gets between us and to always remember that we
are working for the bigger picture and that is bigger
than ourselves.
Chelsea's Emma Hayes says that developing a successful culture is linked to forming consistent
habits. What habits do you demonstrate as a coach and what habits do you encourage from
your players? How do you ensure these habits are embedded over a period of time?
Keith Boanas
Ensuring that the coaching team are all singing from
the same hymn sheet is key - a united staff can allow for
better cohesion and, as a result, the players can see that
togetherness and be more trusting of the programme.
Stuart Weaver
I like to think that I am professional in everything I do.
I’m timely, organised, have good sessions and technical
delivery and ensure, most importantly, that at our level
the players have fun.
The players should also know and understand the
philosophy and preferred playing style, while at the same
time having the capability to adjust to other situations.
Consistency is vital in the methodology of the whole
I ask my players to primarily enjoy themselves and have
fun, and if they incorporate listening, effort and learning
then they will all improve the technical aspects of their
game and, over time, they will improve.
In issue 11, former FA Head of Talent Identification, Mike Rigg, explained that age bias is a central
issue in talent identification discussions. Do you know who the oldest and youngest players are
in your squad and what strategies do you have to support and/or challenge them accordingly?
Stuart Weaver
Age bias is an important factor. Some of the boys in my
son's team are up to 12 months older, and at 11 years of
age it can make for a big difference physically, mentally
and technically.
Stephen Adams
I am aware of the range of ages within the group (oldest
and youngest) and the challenges set are based on their
physical and psychological ability and all four corners
(social, physical, etc).
When I coach, I alter my delivery to reflect and
recognise this.
Some elements of the session focus on the social aspect
or the physical element based on their individual need.
For others they might need development on the technical
element of the practice.
84 | 85
Read The Boot Room and help
complete your CPD
As part of The FA Licensed
Coaches’ Club’s commitment
to providing a range and
variety of different CPD
options, coaches of all levels
can gain one hour of CPD by
completing the reflective
questionnaires in issues 10,
11 and 12 of The Boot Room.
All you have to do is complete
the self-reflection questions
below and return the page
(and any additional notes
you make) to
The Boot Room CPD,
The FA Licensed
Coaches' Club,
St. George’s Park,
Newborough Road,
Staffordshire, DE13 9PD.
Alternatively email a
copy of your answers to
[email protected]
(Add The Boot Room CPD
to the email subject header
and number your responses
according to the question
numbers below) and we will
register your CPD hours.
1. On Page 14/15, Scott Parker describes the ingredients of the best teams
and coaching sessions he has been involved in. How would you summarise his
answers and how does this transfer to the players you work with?
2. Page 19, What does England U17 defender, Danny Collinge, want from his coaches and how may his answer
change your approach to coaching?
3. Using the thoughts of Wantage Town Juniors on page 28/29, describe a practice you would design to keep all the
players engaged?
It is important to stress that
an hour's CPD will only be
recorded if all three reflective
questionnaires (from the
August, December and April
editions) are completed.
4. On page 34, England's Keryn Seal and Dan English talk of the importance of trust in the coach-player relationship.
How do you foster trust with your players?
A selection of the best
responses will feature in
August's issue of
The Boot Room
86 | 87
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The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Magazine | Issue 09. April 2014
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Paul Clement's rise from
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Dan Ashworth, Adam Burrows, Ian
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Ben Bartlett, Andy Lowe, Matt Jones, Ceri
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