29 Mar 2018
Coaching a wide variety of skill levels in youth football
A common question we see in the coaching community is how do we deal with having a such varying levels of talent on one team. – well now it’s time for us to chime in and give you a couple of ideas.
Since the dawn of footballing time, amateur and youth teams have always had to deal with the issue of varying talent within their squad, and with this problem comes a number of possible solutions. So how do we keep our mini-Messi’s developing into superstars without neglecting their teammates in one way or another?
- Split the training sessions. By separating up the training sessions, we can ensure that any high-performers can be focusing on those areas of the game identified by coaches, with a view to strengthen their game for the next step. However, special effort should be made to ensure that this does not disrupt the team’s ability to play well together and will not affect player’s chemistry with one another.
- Identify the talent and recommend. If you can see that one of your players is leagues above the rest, let the parents know. This is likely already known, but in the rarity that parents haven’t understood their child’s potential – this should be shared with them. The next thing would to be to give them helpful guidance for what to do next, you could offer more training sessions for the player, you may know a specialist 1-on-1 coach, you may know of a place that the player could get some exposure. The bottom line is, no two cases are identical, but if you can help that player reach their dreams – help them along that path and guide them to the next step.
- Have faith in the system. For years, above-average players have shone in average teams. This then leads to interest from external clubs who may or may not scout the player for further training and progression from a higher-level or more professional club. The difference between players at one age may not always indicate their future level of ability, children develop at different rates – we all know that! By keeping a high-performing player in the squad as a regular player with no special treatment, this gives them the chance to shine and also allows all the lessons of team sport still to be learnt. Of course we should remove anything that may hinder our players development, but not at the cost of anyone else in the team.
At the end of the day, we just want all our players to do the best for themselves.
Give it some thought, are you doing the best thing for all of your players? Help everyone shine, not just your stars.