Irish Grassroots Football

Over Coaching

Is a term that is widely used and I first heard it from a talk I had with Horst Wein back in 2010, when we spoke about letting the game be the teacher. ‘Bring back street soccer’ is another phrase that is also used a lot in youth football; I’m yet to see a coach bring his team onto a street and play lamppost to lamppost, with no rules, no bibes, no cones and no coaching.

Over coaching is something that has been going on for a long time in this country. I think it’s now reached a level that as adults we need to seriously question our actions.

What is Over Coaching? Continuous input from the coach while the players are playing. Input in such a way that it effect the player’s ability to perform to the best of their ability and stifles their imagination and creativity. In short, the coach is kicking every single ball, making all of their decisions for them.

With so much adult involvement in our kids lives, it’s almost unthinkable for kids to do anything by themselves. So much so, that adults control everything their kids do thus allowing them very little freedom to grow and learn.. In a way we have become control freaks, controlling everything our kids do, including selecting what sports to play.

‘It’s limited freedom that prevents them from exploring’

Which brings me to the young babies (I’m talking about 4,5 & 6 years olds) brought to academies every Saturday mornings. You’ll be lucky if 2 out of 10 actually want to be there in the first place. Why do we feel the need to get kids involved so young?  Unless a child truly wants to start a sport that young, I don’t see the need nor benefits to do so. I certainly won’t be seen near any academy until my daughter is at least 7 or at least asking me to bring her.

Did you ever notice, when you arrive at the park, what’s the first thing the kids do? They run away from you as fast as possible. Of course, they feel safe, as they know you are close but that sense of freedom to be able to run towards the trees or playground…, it’s that exact feeling that they rarely feel when playing sport no a-days. They can think about things in their head and not have to listen to anyone, but the thoughts that are running through their mind, as they race through the fresh air.

When Saturday Comes

Not only do we need to implement a new pathway in Youth Soccer that allows for kids to explore, learn and question. We also need as little adult involvement as possible and in this I mean as little direction or coaching as possible. If children have 50% less playing time and certainly far far less roaming space. What they need is more time and encouragement to go and figure things out for themselves.

“Play lets children take on the world in their own way and digest it. Without it children tend to be overloaded with undigested sense impressions.” Joan Almon

Over the last few months I have totally changed the way I coach kids,  I might stop training 2/3 times in an entire hour to suggest or questions something. Instead of stopping the entire team, I might just stop one player and let the game continue and flow, allowing the players to learn as they go. I see the value, in more touches, more fun and allowing the kids the freedom to explore and sometimes figures things out for themselves, without the intervention of a coach very 3 minutes. I’ve learnt less is more and I’ve also learnt to make sure that when I do step in, it’s something positive and beneficial.

“We don’t tolerate shouting at kids in a playground, a playing field is also a playground” TCD

quoteIf a Saturday morning is anything to go by, then our kids are certainly not getting the freedom they need to explore and learn. Most sports parks around the country are awash with adults cheering, but in most cases roaring on their kids and kicking every ball. I would hate to be a child trying to think in an environment like that, wouldn’t you? This undue pressure to have to win the kids game, is making the game they supposedly love a horrible experience and eventually they rebel against the experience and loud supervision from adults to leave the game for good. We need to stop this from happening.

Dr William Bird, the health adviser to Natural England believes children’s long-term mental health is at risk. He has compiled evidence that people are healthier and better adjusted if they get out into the countryside, parks or gardens but it must be a stress free environment. Stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces, he says.

“If children haven’t had contact with nature, they never develop a relationship with natural environment and they are unable to use it to cope with stress,” he said. “Studies have shown that people deprived of contact with nature were at greater risk of depression and anxiety. Children are getting less and less unsupervised time in the natural environment. “They need time playing in the countryside, in parks and in gardens where they can explore, dig up the ground and build dens.”

The report, published by Natural England and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, also found that children’s behaviour and school work improve if their playground has grassy areas, ponds and trees. It also found evidence that hospital patients need fewer painkillers after surgery if they have views of nature from their bed.

“Coaches who makes excuses over their teams performance, need to look beyond the players. Shouting ‘Keep the ball’ and coaching ‘Keeping the ball’ are two entirely different things.” TCD

We know our children aren’t getting enough time outdoors and when they do it can be a stressful environment, with added pressure from adults. Unfortunately Over Coaching is prevalent at the youngest ages from kids starting out right through to their teens. The golden years for developing and learning is 6 to 12, which so happens to be the most common ages for Over Coaching. Generally the pressure to win and/or the ego that comes with success is a main factor for this.

If you have to say something, keep it positive and coach after (Keep it relative & positive) the action not during it.  I’ll leave this topic where I started it, don’t say ‘let the game be the teacher’ just do ‘let the game, be the teacher’

Coaches, less is more – Talk less and say more, structure less and play more, hear less and listen more, criticize less and praise more. @VictorSatei

Multi directional Workshop

This SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER: Mike Antoniades will be running a Workshop (Multi directional) at the NDSL Development Centre, OSCAR Traynor Road D17. To book or find out more about this workshop, click on WORKSHOP.

Download flyer » Multi directional Workshop 7DECEMBER 2013


I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Facebook comments:


Leave a Reply

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