The following quote I read and reposted on Twitter and Facebook recently and it sparked a little conversation from various coaches.
"Please never forget...
Grassroots football is not about the amount of trophies you win. It is about the difference you make to young people."
I’m sure you all have your own thoughts on this, and at the time I was posed a question about it from a new up and coming coach that I thought I would share with you all.
Can you make a difference and win trophies?
My opinion is no doubt about it!
As long as the trophy winning is secondary to the overall impact we have on young peoples lives, the affect we have on them going out and enjoying their football is far more important than collecting any silverware.
Fun and development must take the lead,and as a coaching family we must really do the best we can to focus on the bigger picture. Developing not just a player, but also a young person to believe in themselves, and striving to become the best that they can be!
Easier said than done?
Possibly, sometimes we can get caught up in the moment, and external pressures will make us second guess our own beliefs, morales and ethics.
However as a coach, you are in a privileged position, and it rests upon your shoulders to set the standards in everything you do. Not just standards for the way you want your team to play, god knows we all want to play like Barcelona! But even more importantly how you manage you own preparations; manage the enviornment; manage behavior; manage expectations; manage set backs and manage success of everyone around you, your players, your coaches and the parents of the children.
Believe me, I’ve had my challenges in terms of changing the mentality of parents, and in fact, other coaches within the clubs I been at. However, if you can plant the seeds in the minds of the adults, this is half the battle to winning the kids over to a “developmental philosophy” and producing a better environment for them to learn the game in a relaxed atmosphere.
In my experience issues arise when coaches or parents see it the other way around, and a “win at all costs” come before any kind of development. Or in some people’s perceptions and opinions, players are only improving if their team is winning.
Being a substitute, or being subbed is still frowned upon and looked at in a negative light by those who don’t truly understand the development of players and the use of “Rolling” Substitutes!
A player is coming off… so they must be having a bad game! … No, no, no! There are plenty of other reasons that a substitution can take place! Trust me!
Those who undervalue the effort, commitment and learning process of children are usually the ones whom sit in judgment of whether their child’s team has won or lost as measuring stick to being a success or failure.
Is it Blinkered Vision or Lack of Understanding?
Well, you should know your parents, so you have to decide on that. LOL
The easiest one to manage I think are those with a Lack of Understanding. We as coaches should be perhaps communicating more with them, and helping them recognize what we are hoping to do, and how we are trying to improve each and every player in the squad by challenging their own individual abilities.
However those with Blinkered Vision, are difficult to have a break through with, not impossible, but very difficult. These people are usually the ones who are set in their ways (of many years) and put results above performance, and often from the first time their child kids a ball!
This has to be addressed. And it is. But it will take time to turn a nation around.
Can we install a winning mentality from a young age?
A winning mentality is natural. In any game kids (& adults) play, they want to win.... A winning mentality is already there before they get coached in any sport.
Our job as coaches is to assist and support their learning process regardless of whether they win or lose, and that is one of the biggest challenges that should be addressed by us.
Prepare your squad appropriately, and try help them to understand that they need to "compete" against the oppostion, never give up, work hard and then they may leave the field of play feeling good about themselves and the effort they have put in. They may have even enjoyed the experience! LOL
Reflection, feedback & understanding is Invaluable! And I highly recommend that all coaches do this with their squads.
I have watched junior cup finals and league deciders over the years where some of the substitutes are not even used. All in the name of winning a trophy.
Question for you: How can players get better on the sideline?
Unfortunately this is viewed upon as the norm! ... it’s a long path to change and educate... one we need to keep working on continuously.
Personally, I want to ensure that my players look back in ten years time and remember how much fun they had at my coaches sessions, reflect on how much they have learnt, and actually recognise when they are mature enough just how much we cared about them as young people, not just as a footballer! I hope that they have learnt some life skills along the way and not just how to perform on the pitch.
Trophies? Yes, been there done that... Making a Difference and remembering the laughs we had along the way... PRICELESS!
Let me leave you with one final quote I was sent…
“Trophies collect dust, the game collects memories, what would we prefer our young players to build”
Something to ponder…