Coaching Clinics Irish Grassroots Football

Coach Education with Mark O’Sullivan

I’m delighted to announce that I will be holding an event in Dublin 15 on Monday 02 March 8pm with Uefa A Coach Mark O’Sullivan @markstkhlm AIK: Player+coach dev+mentor. District Coach Educator. Coach Ed consult. PhD research.

This is a complimentary event (VENUE: St Mochtas Parish Centre next door to Castleknock Celtic FC), I only ask you to offer a gratuity (Optional). If you are interested in attending or sponsoring please email Antonio at

Mark O Sullivan is a UEFA A licensed coach, coach educator and PhD researcher based in Stockholm Sweden where he works with AIK youth football. While football is his main sport, he has also consulted on coaching and coach education in Basketball, Floorball, Golf, Ice Hockey, ice-skating and Tennis.

Mark is also part of the sports research team at Sheffield Hallam University through which he has published various research papers.

Mark works at Swedish premier league club AIK Solna as head of development for 8-12 yrs. He actively coaches, educates coaches and parents and carries out his research work in to designing learning environments in child-youth football. As part of his research together with some colleagues he has set up Scandanavia’s first Research and Development department that is embedded in a football club. Through this department Mark and his colleagues are applying a constraint’s led approach encouraging the design of practice around the principles of nonlinear pedagogy. The first part of a collaboration between AIK Research and Development Department and FC Barcelona’s Methodology Department entitled Ecological Theories, Nonlinear practice and Creative Collaboration at AIK Football Club was presented at the Camp Nou in 2017 and published in the Frontiers of Psychology Journal.

Mark has consulted for the Canadian Soccer Association on coach education helping build their new evidence-based Children’s license (launched 2019) and also for the British Columbia Soccer Association on disabled football.

Mark’s  blog “Footblogball” is his learning space where he tries to bridge the practice-theory gap writing on pedagogy, training design and the complexity of youth development in sport 

Mark O’Sullivan

Recent Presentations

  • Ontario Soccer Summit. A Constraints Led Approach to youth football- Theoretical presentation and practical session (Toronto Canada). 2- 4 March 2018.
  • Nova Scotia Soccer Association. A Constraints Led Approach to youth football- Theoretical presentation and practical session (Halifax Canada). 6 -7th March 2018.
  • Movement and Skill Acquisition Conference Cork Institute of Technology. Presentation on CLA and Nonlinear Pedagogy in practice (Cork, Ireland). 6-7th April 2018.
  • Theory & Practice: Implementing principles of nonlinear pedagogy in youth football (SaltLake City, USA) 18-21st July 2018.
  • Skill Acquisition Symposium – How contemporary Skill Acquisition research can enhance innovative practice. Rotherham New York Stadium.  (Rotherham UK). 10-11th October 2018.
  • Värmlandsidrotten Sports Symposium – Contemporary Skill Acquisition research in Child.
  • Youth Sport (Sunne, Sweden). 20th October 2018.
  • Stockholm Sports University (GIH). A constraints Led Approach in Football. 14th November 2018.
  • Örebro Sports Symposium Örebro Sweden (Örebro Sweden). Presentation on AIK Form of Life. 8th December 2018.
  • SPARC Symposium Skill Acquisition and Talent Development in Sport (Sheffield UK). Presentation on AIK Form of Life. 12th December 2018.
  • PGA Workshop Skill Acquisition and Talent Development in Sport (Sheffield UK). Presentation on AIK Form of Life. 13th December 2018.
  • Swedish Sports Federation National Conference – An Ecological Approach to Learning and Development March 15th 2019
  • Swedish Tennis Federation National Conference -An Ecological Approach to Learning and Development – April 5th 2019
  • Undergraduates Sport and Physical Activity Research Day, Sheffield Hallam University UK – An Ecological Approach to Learning and Development –May 7th 2019
  • BK Skjold Copenhagen, Denmark – Theory and Practice: An Ecological Approach to Learning and Development –June 30th – July 5th 2019
  • North Toronto Soccer Club, Toronto, Canada – An Ecological Approach to Learning and Development –July 17th 2019
  • World Ice Hockey Seminar, Toronto, Canada – An Ecological Approach to Learning and Development July 19th 2019
  • Canada Soccer Association Children’s license – Theory and Practice– Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada 2019- July 22-25th
  • Club 30 Salt Lake City, Utah, USA– Applying theory in practice (Practical workshop for 132 coaches) -July 29th
  • Wasatch Soccer Club Salt Lake City, Utah, USA  – Coach and player education – An Ecological Approach to Learning and Development (presentation for 220 parents and coaches)- July 30Th
  • MetaSports Soccer Club Salt Lake City, Utah, USA – Coach and player education – An Ecological Approach to Learning and Development (theory and practice)- July 31st– Aug 4th  

Upcoming events:

  1. Sheffield Hallam University – Transforming Lives Through Skill Acquisition – Sept 11th
  2. Gothenborg Sweden – AIK: An ecological Approach to player development – Dunnross Stiftelse AGM  Nov 18th
  3. Villnius Lithuania – Modern trends in Youth Football – An Ecological Approach to player development – NOV 20TH
  4. Skövde Sweden – Swedish football conference – An Ecological Approach to player development –11th February
  5. Copenhagen Denmark – Copenhagen Football Association – An Ecological Approach to player development –11th February
  6. Swedish Sports University, Stockholm (GIH) – Sports degree course guest speaker: Implementing a Constraints led Approach in youth football  – 29th March



VENUE: St Mochtas Parish Centre next door to Castleknock Celtic FC)

TIME: 20.05PM


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

Irish Grassroots Football

Worth Every Bit of Your Time!

Recent research suggest that the reason some kids don’t participate in sports is because they can’t move properly. Our kids are not moving enough and when they do, it’s not very much and it’s definitely not multi directional.

Back pain is no longer just an issue amongst elder, more and more kids are suffering with lower back pain than ever before. Why, they are sitting for long periods of time from the minute they wake up; sitting in the car, to sitting all day in school, not allowed run in the yard and back in the car to sitting at home in front of the TV, computer or ipad. We are now facing the biggest ever obesity crises amongst children. We need to get out kids moving more!!

PE is now the singular most important subject in schools today, yet schools treat it with disregard and put no value on it. The most important aspect in life, is your health. Without it, you can’t do very much.

With this in mind I highly recommend these two post by Mark O’Sullivan from Footblogball.

The Class of 2008

This week I spoke with a parent who has an 8 year old in a sports club for the last 2 years. His son will this month go on “trials” for that clubs academy! They train 3-4 times a week. I asked him about the training they were doing (lots of isolated technique) and the criteria for being selected for the academy. I can only conclude that the club in question has a talent identification system based on some bizarre blind chromosomal twist of faith where all the molecules land in perfect order for a natural talent to appear.

Today a friend and I with some parents had our weekly Sunday morning fun football session. The kids are born 2008 and are full of creativity and joy. The families even bring their younger siblings who find it natural to kick/nudge/smash in to a football while sitting on a plastic car. Unfortunately there were no plastic cars in my size.

One of the games we played was not planned but strictly off the cuff mainly inspired by the kids and their immediate environment. The 10 kids were a team in control of 4 footballs within a certain area. Then 3 adults were given the task of “taking” the 4 footballs from the 10 kids. After 3 minutes of much screaming and laughter we took a break and sat down together. We asked the kids “how many ways can you come up with to keep the 4 footballs away from the adults?”. One kid said “we can dribble with the ball” another said “we can turn away from you with the ball”. We said “there may be one more way”. Silence, some discussion then one kid says “we can pass the ball to each other”. It was a real eureka moment that brought great excitement as they tried to envisage how they would pass the ball to each other while helpless adults ran around chasing air. So we played on and the constant shouting of “pass, pass, pass” followed by laughter echoed around the whole area for the remainder of the game. These kids born 2008 had worked it out for themselves through play.

Children are being influenced at a younger age to move from a natural “play” experience to an organised training experience. Imposing on them an adult version of the game where the sport is played for adult reasons (career, winning, making the team) with all the pressure it brings. This early movement to deliberate practice ignores the role of deliberate play in a child’s development and places more focus on extrinsic motivation. This implies that we do not understand that learning and development takes times. By rushing this we miss some great learning opportunities that may later be shown up as technical/ tactical/ cognitive deficiencies.

“Today adults think that kids can only learn in adult organised environments ( school, organised sports) what is worse is that kids are starting to believe it”

It is during adolescence that children need to take ownership of their own development. This ownership needs to be discovered and not forced upon them during childhood.

With children there is no special goal or purpose to play. If children are allowed to discover the game at their own pace they will look for solutions to enable them to perform the skills they feel are necessary to play. Intrinsically motivated they fail and fail better. It is a world full of mistakes of no particular concern to them but mainly of no concern to you … Coach!

Post Two

Next up is, Lynn Kidman is a coach educator who since 1994 has been training coaches to inspire athletes and develop great human beings. Lynn has helped to develop several coaching education programmes which base their philosophy on athlete-centred coaching. Lynn has authored Developing Decision Makers: an empowerment approach to coachingand Athlete-centred Coaching: Developing inspired and inspiring people. She has also co-authored (with Stephanie Hanrahan), The Coaching Process: A guide to improving your effectiveness.

Read On…

Mark blog is FOOTBLOGBALL Follow Mark on Twitter @markstkhlm

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


Grassroots Team Building – By Footblogball


“ Youth Sport Coaching is a complex and multidimensional where the coach can be expected to assume many different roles. Instructor , teacher , trainer , motivator , disciplinarian , substitute parent , social worker , friend , scientist , student , manager , administrator and publicity fundraiser.” ( Gummerson 1992 , Smoll and Smith 1996 )

Most coaches become involved because their Children take up the sport , they have very limited formal training and their reference points are often how they were coached when they were younger or through watching other coaches from a distance . Therefore the average coach is active for 5 years or less. We can conclude that many youth may lack the eseential knowledge to enhance the Youth Sport experience and make it FUN for participants.

Click on the link to read more Footblogball

Coach Talk

The One that “nearly” got away

Piece taken from

Elias Lindberg is a 16 year old Swedish footballer  from Stockholm who  so far has had a very interesting career that brings to the surface many questions about talent Identification , what is talent ? and how should we as coaches nurture the players development.Elias now plays his football in Malaga.

Elias ,tell me a little bit about your football career so far.

I started playing football for a local team at 6.When I was  10 I attended a football school and  It was then I began to realize how much fun  football was. I developed very quickly there mainly  because of how we played during break time it was street football, spontaneous. We took it as serious as our official training sessions .The next step was to find a “better” club or at least what in Stockholm is called an elite club. I began playing with Hammarby 4. After a year in that team I was promoted to the first team in Hammarby for my age group. There we had a coach who was obsessed with physical training and during the season  we had two sessions per week, which consisted of 8 km running, and 1h strength training. Due to the physical training I picked up a lot of injuries and  that meant I missed a lot of football. So because of this training I lost my pace and decided to drop down to the 2nd team where I began to  to regain my confidence and speed. We had a great coach and he helped me with my development. The training was fun and we did everything with the ball even our fitness training .The coach left at the end of the season and  I didn’t want to go back to the first team

In the middle of all this I got involved in KAFA FOOTBALL  which was on every Friday night.Kafa helped me relax more with my game and try out new things. I began to use my left foot more and look at the game differently.My self confidence really grew during those Friday nights with KAFA. Without KAFA I would never have developed so quickly.

I went to another local club Bagarmossen where I played in midfield and became team captain. Another club. Soon I took another step up playing for Sköndal U17 team.I was a year younger than everyone else in the team and my whole game really developed. Last summer I attended a footbal summer camp in Spain where coach  Reuf Dervic. approached my father and offered to fix me  trial games for some of the best clubs in the Malaga  area. So I trained with Vazquez Cultural u-19 team in the Spanish junior league which is a feeder club to Malaga, Fiorentina and Genoa. They where very impressed with my game and offered me a contract. Since my dad lives down here and this was a really good opportunity I  to say yes. I am the youngest in the team and I am really enjoying my football.

You never featured in the elite Stockholm City representation team?

Its sad but the City team (Stadslaget) only look at the players in in the big clubs  so I never  got a chance to represent Stockholm. Funnily enough now that I am with a big Spanish club the National team coach for the u-16 has been in touch. He will probably come to Malaga and see me play. He could have done that a few months ago in Stockholm . It is quite strange that as soon as you go to a bigger club, you become interesting.

It seems to me that you have got a more rounded football education than many players from the Stockholms elite teams.

One advantage of not playing with the elite Stockholm teams is that you really learn how to win back the ball. You really develop your defensive skills. This has really helped my game here in Malaga.

How do you compare your Training sessions in Malaga with those in Stockholm ?

In Sweden I feel that there is not enough free play, too may drills with cones etc. Here most of our training relates directly to match situations. In Malaga it doesn’t matter how strong you are, it is all about reading the opponent and knowing when is the right moment  to take the ball off him. All my physical fitness training is aimed at improving my mobility which I think needs to improve a lot.

TCD Said, This is a great little story, which i had to share. Many footballers never get picked for so called elite squads or national teams until they bloom late into their teens. With so much focus on winning in this country its no wonder we rarely produce technically gifted kids with game intelligence. Year after year schoolboy soccer in Ireland continues along as if nothing needs to change. The amount of morons running the leagues and controlling grassroots football in this country is truly unbelievable. Putting some of these people in control of our game, is one of the main reasons Irish Soccer will always be stuck in the past. The most popular sport has no direction and in time will become the minority sport!

This piece was taken from Mark O’Sullivan website which originates from Sweden. Mark is a UEFA B  (badge gained in Sweden) coach working in Stockholm.

Game Analysis Irish Grassroots Football

Using a high pressure game…

My good friend and Coach Mark O’Sullivan from footblogball in Sweden recently post some game analysis on his YOUTUBE page. I picked this up and then asked him, to explain…

“We played one of the better teams(ie taller than us 😉 ) in Stockholm last week and we beat them 6-0!!! Their manager was a bit in shock but was very gracious and very  positive as to how we played the game. We decided to go for an aggressive high press for the first half and try and win the ball as high up the pitch as possible”.

BOO FF v VASALUND 1st half

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“We played a high pressure 4-3-3 for the first time during this game. We worked on it in training plus the dynamic transition between defence and attack .We played à slightly lower press in the 2 nd half as we were winning 2-0 . This frustrated them into doing hurried passes in the middle of the park where we broke up the play and tried as quickly as possible to get behind there defensive line making them face their own goal”.

BOO FF v VASALUND 2nd half

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Mark also send me a pdf of some of the players movements and phases of play during the 1st half.

pdf »BOO FF v Vasalund

Thanks Mark, great stuff