Irish Grassroots Football

My Core Values

I had a very positive meeting with a fellow coach the other day. I enjoy meeting up with other coaches because just like coaching sessions you always learn something new.

We spoke about about core values and how to develop your own. I have them in my head but never wrote them down. That meeting has made me do just that.

What Are Core Coaching Values?

For example, some people love to repair or fix stuff – as kids, they took apart their toys only to put them back together, and as adults they still love fixing in the garage. So “Repairing” is a value for them – they don’t have to force themselves to fix stuff, they just do it.

The values underlie our work, how interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to our mission.  The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our work.  They are the practices we use (or should be using) every day in everything we do. I believe that one of the best way to make a positive impact on your team and teach your players life lessons is to develop your own list of core values.

This is a list that you carry with you all the time and you should clearly emphasise these core values with your team.

“It is your consistency in behaviour which creates respect and trust in your players, leading to a quality relationship”. – Not Sure who?

It MUST be written down…

Research suggest this is one of the best things you can do as a coach. Your message will get clearer. You’ll have a more profound impact on your players. They will respect you. They will work harder. And you will feel better about the impact you’re having on the team by implementing them.

When JOHN WOODEN, the great coach at UCLA finished 2nd year, his father gave him a card entitled, 7 Suggestions to Follow.

They were:

  • Be true to yourself.
  • Help others.
  • Make each day your masterpiece.
  • Drink deeply from good books, especially the Good Book.
  • Make friendship a fine art.
  • Build a shelter for a rainy day.
  • Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings each day.

Wooden kept a copy of the card in his pocket the rest of his life and used these philosophies in coaching.

“Let’s face it. You can’t teach your players all the hundreds of life lessons there are to teach. But if you FOCUS on a small set of core values every day in your practices and actions, you can have a tremendous positive effect on your players”.

Consistency is vital. Focus is vital. Repetition is vital.

“Repeating the same things over and over again until the players themselves are the ones repeating it back to you.”

All coaches should have their own list of documented and clear core values

I’ve just finished my own list. All of the things on my list will have special meaning and make sense to me. I believe in them. I have been working on them for sometime now (in my head) and when you do yours, spend the time needed to get them just right. Try and spend sometime developing yours but then again you might want to put yours together quickly, so you have them for the coming season. Either way, just by having something written down you’ll be helping the players you coach.

“The goal of the staff at La Masia is to provide young kids with an education that goes far beyond football tactics and technique; it makes them good people, with strong values.” FCB

The idea of core values as discussed here was first presented by the late Thomas Leonard, a pioneer in the field of life coaching.

 List of Core ValuesMy Core Values: 

Mission: To improve Participation, Positive Learning and Development.

Playing Sport is one of the greatest journeys in life that begins from a very young age and can continue throughout our lives, culminating in lifelong memories of joy, despair, happiness and friendships.



LEARNING (Care, Education, Growth, Personal Growth)

I’ll always be a learner – always educating myself to improve and do better for the players I coach. The heart of education is learning, so it is my belief that I should model this at all times.  But I also try to create an environment that supports coaches and players on their journey as well. I want every player I coach to know that I was once a player and that I care about how they perform. I want to learn from them, just as much as they will learn from me. You will learn that mistakes are part of the process, however at all times we will work and focus on success not failure. I will place the interest of the the people I work with first in everything I do. The Fundamental goal is to keep kids enjoying Sport for life.

“The very best coaches teach you more than technique and tactics of a sport, they teach you about life.”

 “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

HEALTH (Food, Mindset, Lifestyle, Fitness, Fun & Habits)

I value my health more than anything in my life. Without it, you have nothing; you can’t do very much and it can also affect you mentality. I value my mental, social, physical, emotional and spiritual health and will encourage others do value theirs. Creating a culture of health and well-being is important to me. There is no better feeling in the world, than that feeling after you have worked out, this is what fuels my fire.

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” John F. Kennedy

TEAMWORK (Enjoyment, Eagerness, Goals, Improve, Pride, Relationships & Respect)

I believe in the value of teamwork and spirit of cooperative effort. Every member in the team has to perform and contribute in his best possible way to achieve a common predefined goal. Individual performances do not count in a team and it is the collective performance of the players, which matters the most. I take pride and everyone plays a part.

Teamwork in football is the most important aspect of the team dynamic.

  • I will demonstrate compassion and respect for each other.
  • I will always work hard to create a team environment and fun atmosphere.
  • I will make sure we always work together and help each other.
  • I will encourage growth and positive learning, a will to win and desire to never stop learning.
  • Developing strong relationships, respecting others, and showing sincere care to everyone around you.

This is something we will embrace as a team. Healthy competition will be encouraged and team members will be motivated to perform and improve. Teams members will learn to appreciate individual skill and game intelligence. We play to win but not at all cost and recognise both endeavour and achievement. Working for the welfare of the team. Each individual working for the team not himself. 

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

“I’ve worked too hard and too long to let anything stand in the way of my goals. I will not let my teammates down, and I will not let myself down.” Mia Hamm

ATTITUDE (Choice, Discipline, Focus, Performance, Positivity, Train)

For success attitude is equally as important as ability. I will strive to have a positive attitude in practice, games, and all aspects of my live. My attitude is what defines me. My attitude affects me and the people around me. My attitude affects my performance in games and training. As a coach, I should spend most of my time thinking about the positive things, the players are doing – versus dwelling on the negative ones (mistakes). I focus on the things I can control. I must always consciously train and perform. I will always have a “proactive” attitude.

Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice, the effort is the same. This means that life is what I make of it. I choose happiness. I choose sadness. I choose decisiveness. I choose success. I choose failure. I choose courage. I choose fear and in doing so, it gives me a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results. Having a proactive attitude is about taking responsibility for my life. I will have a positive and proactive attitude in everything we do.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” – Michael Jordan

HONESTY (Integrity, Morality, Sportsmanship & Trust)

Some believe Honesty is the beginning of education. For us to succeed we must have honesty and we must trust each other. This is one of the most important things you can do. Honesty applies to your life in countless ways and it can have different meanings. I must search for those meanings.

  • An honest person is someone that can be trusted and relied upon.
  • An honest person completes their agreements and promises.
  • An honest person is also someone that lives with integrity and character, is reliable and someone that others can count on.

Be responsible. Live with integrity and character. Be a good sport. Be true to yourself.

The trust I hold will be fulfilled with professionalism, conscientiousness, and respect for the people I coach. Trust is an important part of learning; if a player trusts me then he/she will do their best for the team. If there is trust, then players are more apt to take risks.

Integrity, it’s a big word and one that gets used a lot.  However, I believe it’s essential to build trust and relationships. I think it imperative to be true to what I say and what I believe. It is important to walk the walk and follow through with promises.  I will observe fair play both on and off the pitch and will be generous in victory and dignified in defeat. Mutual respect forms the basis of our team. Without integrity, my message is lost.

“Each time you are honest and conduct yourself with honesty, a success force will drive you toward greater success. Each time you lie, even with a little white lie, there are strong forces pushing you toward failure”. 

“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.”Mia Hamm 

HARD WORK (Determination, Discipline, Effort, Mental Strength, Patient, Perseverance, Success & Toughness)

In life there are certain things you cannot control. But there is one thing you can control 100% of the time — YOUR EFFORT. I have 100% control of my effort. I have a choice give 1% 10% 50% or 100%,  because of that I expect the same from the people I coach to ALWAYS give their best effort. Even 1% more is working harder. There is no excuse I can give because I have control over it.  As a players, you might miss a few chances. You might give the ball away, but it’s the effort you make to get it back. You won’t always play well, but you can always give it your best effort. As a coach I can live with mistakes, it’s part of the process, but what I can’t live with is anything less than your maximum effort.

  • You will always get 100% from me.
  • It’s important to be in the moment!
  • Focus on what you’re doing, when you’re doing it! 
  • There is no substitute for hard work. Hard work almost always pays off. 

“Sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you really can’t tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way.” – Jim Courier

“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

My Teams

My teams we will strive to show incredible perseverance and resiliency, with a never say die attitude. We will play through mistakes and always stick to our philosophy. I believe it’s critical to always persevere — never give up and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Anything is possible through hard work and perseverance. Through perseverance, hard work and determination, we are committed to bringing success to our team. All the very best Olympians achieved success to participate in world-class event because of their enduring persistence and how they keep on going in spite of all the challenges they face along their journey. Perseverance brings Success. Not only in sports can we find perseverance a common characteristic of people with success, we can find this to be common in all different areas of life. I will keep reminding myself that success only likes people who are determined and keep going no matter what it takes!

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” – Newt Gingrich

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” – Mario Andretti

That’s them all, for now!

All my players will play with a smile (and always have fun…)

The single most important aspect of playing sport is having FUN. We are going to work hard, but enjoy the process and hopefully with lots of success, but always having fun. Enjoy improving and learning at every opportunity. My playing days, were some of the best times of my life, they still are. No I didn’t always play, start, or do well – I wasn’t always on the A team and Yes, it was hard work at times but, I loved it and learned from it. I say to my players to focus on the things you are good at and work to improve at each and every opportunity. Enjoy the process and put your energy into the positive things. (Always give thanks)

For now, these are my core values, which I can’t imagine will change much. Hopefully you can get some inspiration to write down yours. These will help me remember what is important. Thanks to Mike O’Toole for suggesting I write them down.

I particularly like these quotes, along with all the others ones:

“The Spirit of Sports: The spirit of sports gives each of us who participate an opportunity to be creative. Sports knows no sex, age, race or religion. Sports gives us all the ability to test ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally in a way no other aspect of life can. For many of us who struggle with ‘fitting in’ or our identity – sports gives us our first face of confidence. That first bit of confidence can be a gateway to many other great things!” – Dan O’Brien 

“In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?” – Jesse Owens

I’d like to know what you think and please send me yours.


Coaching Irish Grassroots Football

A Coaching Philosophy……

One of the most important aspects of coaching is to have a Philosophy. Your club should definitely have one and so should each and every coach involved with the set-up. The coach should have a guiding principle for training and coaching the team. A few bibs, some cones and balls is not what I’m talking about.

The right attitude and coaching principle is what i’m referring to. Your philosophy will be ideas that determine everything you do as a coach; from how you speak to your players, how you handle the parents and communicate your coaching style.  The style in which you want your team to play. Your coaching philosophy will give you and your players an insight to what your all about.

What is a Philosophy?

Coaching Philosophy is a set of values, governing principles and beliefs, which determine why you do what you do and how you behave in the context of your coaching role. You must ask yourself the Question, Why do I coach? 

Why have a Philosophy? 

Your philosophy should be a long term project, in which you never stop learning and adding to along the way. You will see the benefits if you stick to the plan. Knowing the way you want your team to play provides a clearer outlook on how to structure your sessions and what you work on over the season.  This season I worked solely on possession. I wanted the kids to always play from the back, be able to move the ball across the back, middle and front under pressure. Every session was planned always with a different possession exercise that challenged the kids both physically and mentally.  This way I was able to see how the players developed over the season. Having a plan for the season you will give you clearer idea on what goals you want to achieve as individuals and as a team.

“It is your consistency in behavior which creates respect and trust in your players, leading to a quality relationship”.

Stick to your Philosophy

My philosophy teaches success is many different ways, getting a group of kids to play together, as a team, play to their very best, and reach their ultimate potential while having fun. As you gain more and more experience coaching, your style of play might change but how your direct and coach the kids, your core values and beliefs as a person should stay the same. If you have a philosophy, the only thing that should change is what you believe in, never try to be anyone else.

Everyone talks about other coaching philosophies, adopting someone else’s won’t give your own identity. If you start you use words and actions taken from other coaches, that are not consistent with you, the players will expect the same in the future. If you expect your kids to behave in a certain with respect and dignity then you too must also behave the same. Coaching is about life skills, more then it is about you and/or the game.

Don’t let your standards drop and be consistent with everything you do. The kids will respect you more for that. Everything you do will rub off on the players, that’s why it is so important to stick to your philosophy.

The greatest managers in the world all stick to what the believe in and instill that into their players. Repeating the same things over and over again until the players themselves are the ones repeating it back to you.

“Essentially all coaches utilise a Coaching Philosophy”.

o-SOCCER-BALL-facebookThe Club philosophy – Must be clear and concise

The philosophy of the FC BARCELONA is, “that the team is most important, the team is more important than any player (individuality) and the players have the obligation to meet and defend the IDEA of the CLUB”. 

If a clubs has a philosophy and sticks by it, then a coach who is serious about developing his players will benefit from this. If a club does not have a philosophy or fails to stick to it’s beliefs then they are on the road to failure and disruption within the club. Each and every club should have a clear pathway from the small kiddies in the academy all the way to the senior team, this will be the key to the success, not to mention the respect the club gets amongst it’s pears and within the community. No player, coach, manager or member is bigger then the club.

It is the clubs responsibility to challenge the players and progress them to the next level. Two of the reasons Kids play the game; is to have fun and improve. That’s why the philosophy should be the same from bottom to top in order to develop and maximise each and every playing members ability.

To often what happens within the club is coaches stay with the same year group each year, without a clear idea of what they need to teach in order to progress the players. Or they continue with the team, lacking the knowledge to teach a different age group. Either way the players are the ones who are losing out and soon will be come disheartened with the game and give up altogether. The dropout of kids in Irish sport is huge and one of the main reasons is because their mentors haven’t a notion what they are doing nor do they ever intend too.

Having a proper philosophy will attract people to your club, you only have to look at some of the best youth soccer clubs in Ireland and see why they are attracting good coaches and players. They have a philosophy and someone who makes sure it is adhere to, this in turns creates the culture and ethos of the club and improves the performance of all the members.

“The very best coaches teach you more then the techniques and tactics of a sport, they teach you about life”.

What is my Philosophy?

My personal philosophy is something I have worked on a lot over the last year. I am certainly a much better coach then I was last year.  My club philosophy is being re-written as I type but will be written with the same ink.

My philosophy teaches success is many different ways, getting a group of kids to play together, as a team, play to their very best, and reach their ultimate potential while having fun. I want every player to enjoy their experience as part of the team; everyone on the team is expected to put the best interest of the team first, before any thought is given to individual accomplishments.

I read a lot of Horst Wein books and use his Guided Discovery way of teaching, a teaching model where students learn through explorations, but with directions from the coach, these I believe is a great method for coaching.

I expect my players to give 100% in training and play as if they would come Saturday. I do everything with the ball and use a a lot of possession games. I’m reading a book by Jesus Enrique Gutierrez Mayor, (Former Real Madrid Coach) ‘Possession: Play football The Spanish Way’ a collection of some brilliant possession games, I highly recommend this book.

I coach players to play not to win but to give their very best and when you do this they win most of the times. For me it’s about getting a group of kids to play together, as a team, give their very best regardless of the score, play with desire, and reach their ultimate potential while having fun.

No individual, coach or player, is more important than the team. I firmly believe in repetition as a key tool to prepare players to be the best they can be. I’ll always start with the fundamentals, work on techniques and individual skills and teach team defense in depth. I take every opportunity to coach and demonstrate teamwork, sportsmanship and respect for everyone, starting with the coaches, teammates and the opposition. I expect every player to treat others, as they would want to be treated. I will not tolerate bad manors. Every child must appreciate each other, respecting each another is fundamental part of my philosophy.

I believe ”Perfect practice makes perfect”, players should properly practice the skills being taught on a repetitive basis, so that these skills become as natural as walking and talking. They then get an opportunity to practice with opposition, just like the game.

I always strive to make my session an enjoyable experience that both develop skills, game intelligence and provide positive life long memories for every player involved. Playing football should always be FUN.

I love football and I want the kids to play with a smile. I try to instill in every player, that hard work pays off and the harder players work, the more they will achieve. While being successful is a goal for everyone, at the same time each player should focus on effort – not outcome. A team can always control effort but seldom the outcome of a game.

I expect my players to set goals for themselves and the team. Goals should be challenging enough to require players to extend beyond their present skill level, they must look to improve year on year and develop game intelligence. Every player should have the chance to achieve success and/or failure in game situations, this is the only way they can learn.

When they do things right, I’ll give them positive feedback. When they make mistakes I’ll give them feedback in terms of advice or instruction to help them improve, but always looking for the positives from every outcome and always guided by what they think and say. I listen!

My goal is to keep kids in sport for life; this is the ultimate.

John Wooden – He never coached his teams to try to be better than their opponent. He taught his athletes to prepare themselves to be the best they could be and the result would take care of itself.

 “Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.” – John Wooden

I want to create a coaching philosophy?

So you know the importance of having a well-articulated Coaching Philosophy. It is a critical component of any coaches careers and if you want to be impactful, we are always learning and evolving. The challenge is to define your philosophy and stick to it.

It’s something that has been mentioned before but it’s true; coaching courses are only a small part of your journey as a coach. The lessons we learn outside our coaching courses as well as on our courses will allow us gain a better idea of what we want from our coaching. All the best coaches in the world have mentors, who have defined their philosophies.

Every coach has certain things they never compromise on. If a coach values ability, they will never let their players sacrifice on technique.

By making a distinction between which values you want to have, but could perform your coaching role without, and those which you must have, you are able to evaluate how your coaching behavior is impacted by these values. The list of what different coaches’ value is as diverse as there are different types of coaches. So it is important once you have established your values, to identify which are your most critical values to you. Most coaches learn from others, they are usually the example of what to do or what not to do.

“be a leader and be player centered”

Many players can talk about a coach who they did not feel had shown the correct behaviour nor treated their players well and as such, you may use these coaches as a reminder of what type of coach you want to become.

So the question to ask is, Why did I start coaching? You must then right down all the reasons and start from here. As you have read, my philosophy has evolved from reading various coaching manuals and books and listening to other coaches. Your’s will be the same. You can define your very own Coaching Philosophy in a short brief  statement, similar to a Mission statement in business. I still need to do that with mine and write down my core values.

This will help you get started:

  • What are your Coaching Motives – The reasons why you took up coaching will affect how you coach.
  • Player- Adpapt a player centered approach
  • The Situation – There are situations in which a particular style of coaching is more appropriate than another.This will deffer depending on the level, ability and background of the players you coach.
  • Your Personality – We are human, therefore, have individual personalities. Some coaches may be extroverted, outgoing and lively in their approach to coaching, while others may be more introverted and go about their coaching in a quiet, calm manner. Personality does not matter, provided that appropriate actions and behaviours are maintained, which relate to the every single situation.
  • Your Knowledge – The more knowledgeable you are as a coach, the more options you will have available to you to plan and deliver effective sessions. You never stop learning. Knowledge will also help you to feel confident and create a positive environment for your players. A coach lacking in knowledge may come across as low in confidence and may be perceived as lacking skills or the ability of knowing how to deal with certain situations, they will more than often have a direct approach to coaching and not very good at listening.

The key to player centred coaching is you, this is the key to success. Build Strong Relationships; Effective Communications; Understand your players and their personalities; Understand yourself and your coaching style; Develop a Coaching Philosophy.

Develop a style

You will then develop a style that you are comfortable with, every coach has a coaching style which is largely defined by their Behavioral Style (Personality). This coaching style will have strengths and weaknesses. Essentially understanding you coaching style will help you to comprehend you motivations, the environment you perform best in, and how you communicate best with your players. – Athlete Assessments 

Find out what your Philosophy is?

This is putting it altogether. Understanding the behaviour you wish to exhibit consistently, how you wish to conduct yourself, how this behaviour will impact on your players and the results of this impact, you can then create a the foundations to control your conduct in your coaching role.

This foundation will control how you conduct yourself in your coaching role. This is a big part of your coaching philosophy and should link to where you discovered your core values in relation to being a coach.

Another aspect is how you define success. This is linked to your values, people will always keep score and define success by what you have won but defining what truly is success is often not a simple matter of who has more goals at the end of a game. It has been said on so many occasions that Winning,  is only part of the measure of success…….however, this solely depends on what your philosophy is going be, correct? – Athlete Assessments 


The creating and implementing of a coaching philosophy allows a coach to gain a clearer idea of what they want from players, parents and any other individuals associated with the and/or club.. This in turn will allow more coaches and the club to create a clearer development path for their players, therefore allowing coaches to set more effective, measurable and attainable long and short term goals.

Understanding and developing your Coaching Philosophy is the key to success. Start with your Core Values.


Thanks to the Research from British Cycling Study  and  Bo Hanson – 4x Olympian, Coaching Consultant & Director of Athlete Assessments for helping with this post. 

Download the The Ultimate Coach handbook for FREE. 

Read InsideSoccer: Philosophies – Guardiola, Shades of Michels


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.

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