Irish Grassroots Football The Coach Diary

Kids just want to have FUN…

Kids just want to have fun and if they’re not having fun, they may not come back. At the end of the day it’s just a game…a kids game and in years to come when you look back at the results they will mean nothing…..

Someone asked me the other day what would I say to a coach starting out? I remember reading something in an article about that very question and it went something like this,  “If this is your 1st game to coach or your 1000th, take an occasional peek toward the end. Winning is a by-product of doing all things the correct way. What matters the most is the effort you made to make a difference in those kids lifes.”

How many sport organisations ask the kids what they want from sport. How many take a child centre approach to coaching the game. Children have a very different view about their game to what the adults actually think they do.

With regard to soccer even during the early teenage years, we cannot predict who is going to be the best. Many things start to happen and it is not until after 20 years of age do we find out who has survived the journey to elite level. That is ten years, plus the glorious years of child football! – Johan Fallby Sport Psychologist at premier Danish soccer club F.C. Copenhagen

What are the kids after?

Why do they get into the game? Well, they get into because their introduction to any sport was generally through play and play to children = FUN.

You will have more successful athletes if you coach the process, effort, and the pursuit of excellence and then the outcome happens by itself.

Believe it or not children don’t actually think they are going to be professional sports players. It’s only a very small percentage that actually believe this. For most the kids the idea of imitating one of their idols is good enough. That is play. It’s adult that actually dream more about their kids becoming a professional player.

Kids play sport because its fun. They get a chance to hang out with their mats and play outside. They get a chance to put on the club colours at the weekend. They get a chance to play their game for real and all because it’s FUN!

….and what makes it FUN? Organised training sessions where they get a chance to improve their ability, skills and game intelligence in a child centre environment. When the game is fun then the kids will keep coming back.

Kids don’t value winning as much as adults do. They love to win but they prefer to play. So even if the team is winning every week, the kids who don’t play don’t feel part of the success. Kids would rather lose and play than win and not play.

They do not play to win. They like to win, they enjoy competing, but they do not play to win. They play to have fun, to be with their friends, to feel good about themselves, and because it is exciting.

“Be strong and work to eliminate this culture and ignorance from your club. Be curious and find out more about how a sports environment should look like for your child” – Johan Fallby

No kid wants to train two or three times a week to only get 5 or 10 minutes of a game at the weekend. When kids sign up to play a sport or when their parents sign them up, the kids go into this process with their eye on playing the game at the weekend. Training is not the fun part of the week, the game is.


  • Is to make sure the kids are having fun and learning in an age specific environment.
  • We have a culture that’s has come from pro sports where people pay to get entertained “Entertainment Zone” this feeds the win at all costs mentality on kids sport. Grassroots is not that, grassroots is the “development zone”
  • Research has shown that when you focus on development of the game, creating a mastery culture rather than the winning one, everything being equal, you do better in the long run and you end up winning anyway.

Social Neuroscience, of undergrads at Case Western Reserve University : “The No. 1 change any coach can make, on any level, is to focus more on the positive. A recent study, published in Social Neuroscience, of undergrads at Case Western Reserve University, found that young people who are coached using a positive approach — envisioning future success, in particular — were more likely to be compassionate and open to ideas for improvement. They were also more likely to make lasting behavioural changes than those coached by people who focused on their weaknesses”.

In the end of the day the kids that stay in sport for longer are the ones who really benefit. If you see sports as being fun the chances are so will the kids you coach.

Give kids quality coaching in a fun environment with meaningful competition and they will keep coming back for…. So yes, occasionally take a peek into the future, even just a year later and see how many of the kids you coach keep coming back. How many of them have you retained and improved from last year? Your job is to continue to provide an environment that allows them to get better and keep coming back for more.


I have taken lost of references from this interview and If you care about youth sport then I highly recommend you read: Johan Fallby talks to footblogball

Also read Per Göran Fahlström also on footblogball

Changing The Game Project


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary and @LetTheKidPlay

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Facebook comments:


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.