The Effects of Lockdown on Children’s Football in the United Kingdom

The Effects of Lockdown on Children’s Football in the United Kingdom

Lockdown reached into every part of our lives, and children’s football was no different. As health improves across the UK and sectors start to slowly open up, it seems like a good time to look back at the effects that lockdown had on the sport and the lesson we have learnt about its importance to the development and health of the nation’s children.

The impact of lockdown on children’s football

Each lockdown has had a detrimental impact on children’s football. During the first national lockdown, almost half of young people became less active through the suspension of sports clubs and not attending school. During this time, parents, teachers, coaches and players were slowly getting to grips of how to stay fit and active in this period despite the challenges. 

Unfortunately, a proportion of children became physically unfit and a damaging impact on their mental health became apparent. A survey carried out by the children’s commissioner of 2,000 children between the ages 8 and 14 found that 26% became more stressed about their physical and mental health during lockdown. Their physical and mental health was the third biggest concern that children had after schoolwork and being separated from their friends. 

From a football-specific point of view, children who have missed out on many months of football will see a difference in their playing ability and development as a player. That may not seem important in the grand scheme of things, but for those who have developed a passion for the game they have been deprived of an opportunity in which they could’ve learned and grown as a player.

Football and other sports are at danger of losing out on an entire generation of participants at the same time as children’s wellbeing is being severely impacted. Finding a way for sports to return safely is paramount to the health of the nation. Luckily, many schools, communities, clubs and governing bodies have recognised the importance of sport and football and have been working tirelessly to ensure a safe return to play. 

During these times many clubs, parents, teachers and coaches have done a fantastic job in creating remote football training programmes where players could learn new skills and continue playing football from home. Without many of these key supporters of the game, the atmosphere would have been very different for many young footballers. 

What will football look like in 2021? How do we start to play again?

At elite level, many teams and professionals have been able to continue playing, however they do so with increased safety measures and control. This includes regular testing for all those involved in football at the top level, a reduction in non-football related social activities for the professionals and ongoing regulations to monitor the situation. The gradual return of fans to the stadiums will also have a positive impact in morale for the general public and players. The premier-league and professional football occupies such an important spot in British culture so we look forward to a full football experience returning for fans and young players. 

On an amateur level there has been a strong push for the return of football for children firstly then adults. Although, there have been many concerns and debates over the 2020-21 season being cancelled or adapted. Each county FA has been working tirelessly to create the safest guidance and parameters to allow playing and leagues to resume. 

Thankfully children’s football has been a key focus for many counties and sporting bodies. Due to the importance that a healthy lifestyle plays in the development of kids, as soon as restrictions are lifted or amended to allow children to resume playing then it is in everyone’s interest to get them active again.

The sport proved when following the government and Football Association guidelines first time around that it could be trusted to provide a safe environment. It is well positioned to do so again, this March 2021 when we return to outdoors and grassroots football.

Why is it important for children to resume football?

The obvious benefit of children resuming football is the physical exercise it offers. With less and less children not receiving their recommended amount of 60 minutes of activity a day, there has been a rise of unfit children. However due to the circumstances the past couple of years children have had to stay inside and had to refrain from meeting in large groups or gatherings, which made getting exercise extremely difficult. According to the NHS, childhood obesity hit a record high in 2019 as a result of a large number of children failing to hit the recommended amount of 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per day. With millions of children having spent much of 2020 under lockdown, there will be significant efforts to help children get fit and healthy. Football is the best way for children to have fun and be active again. It doesn’t matter the skill level or age of the child, anyone can enjoy kicking a football around.

As parents, giving children more screen time to stay busy has been for the most part a productive and beneficial solution to the problem. But, now with more and more restrictions being uplifted it’s time for kids to get back outside. We understand children may seem reluctant to leave their screens (computer, phones, tablets, televisions, etc.), so we have to evoke them and get them to start thinking of football again. By making it apparent to children that life is returning to normalcy. Pull them from their screens and back into the game (disconnect to reconnect). Ways to reignite your child’s football passion:

  • Take them to the park for a kickabout
  • Invite friends over to play and practice
  • Watch a football game with your child and ask them about what player they like
  • Talk about the different positions on the pitch and what position they would like to play
  • Find out if they like shooting, tackling, dribbling… and find some videos to practice
  • Join a We Make Footballers session open to players of all abilities
  • Go to a football game

Football plays an important role in other areas of a child’s development, especially in their formative years. It teaches the importance of teamwork, improves communication skills, expands social circles, develops confidence, and teaches how to deal with setbacks. Dealing with setbacks has been a recurring theme in the year 2020. We have been challenged in so many ways, but footballers have a strong ability to keep fighting, keep playing and staying positive. Finally, football offers children some normality and an escape from the very strange world we currently live in. There is no better way to spend time than hanging out with friends and kicking the ball around. So, let’s do our part as parents and get our children back outside playing the sport they enjoy and love.


Soccer – health benefits – Better Health Channel

Child obesity action ‘risks losing its way’ – BBC News

What is the new England DNA?


England DNA - The FAWhat is the new England DNA?

England DNA. It’s one of those football buzzwords that have been bandied around in the press over the past five years, sometimes in admiration and other times in mockery. Most football fans have heard of it, but how many actually know what it is?


Dan Ashworth - helpED create the FA DNAHow the FA came up with the England DNA

The new England DNA was launched in 2014 by the FA’s then-Technical Director Dan Ashworth. Ashworth had been headhunted from West Bromwich Albion in 2012 with the remit of overhauling the England setup, turning the Three Lions from a team that won Time Magazine’s Most Disappointing in the World Award in 2012 into one that could lift a first World Cup since 1966.


Ashworth studied the success of the German model which had been overhauled after their embarrassing exit at the group stages of Euro 2000 to produce of the best teams in the world at that point in time.

He looked at how a country the size of Belgium had managed to churn out a golden generation of some of the finest players in the world. He considered how France’s 1998 World Cup success had been knitted together on the fields of their national training centre at Clairefontaine.

The one recurring theme that all these success stories contained was football DNA. There was a clear set of guidelines and best practice laid out to produce elite footballers who would then be exposed to high-level competition from a young age, ensuring that they had enough quality and experience for when they hit their peaks in their mid-to-late 20s.

Ashworth and the FA took all that on board with the result being the England DNA Blueprint for Elite Player Development.


FA DNA - CoachingThe five elements of England Football DNA

The England Football DNA is made up of five core elements. Element one is Who We Are, which focussed on what the FA consider to be the culture and values of English football. The idea is that every player who enters the England system from age-group levels through to Under 21s through to the senior squad should be consistent in the way they behave. Who We Are encourages pride in representing your country, integrity in doing so to the highest standards possible, excellence in never striving to be anything but the best and collaboration – the idea of every England side pulling in the same direction.

The FA Consider the How We Play element of the England Football DNA to be the most important. This lays down a consistent, possession based playing style that every England team must adhere to, the thought process being that if the Under 16s play the same way as the senior squad, then it smooths a player’s journey through the age groups as they will always know what is expected of them.

Element three is The Future England Player. This looks at that pathway to the senior setup. The FA noted that whilst England gave their most talented young players a summer off if there was an Under 21 tournament taking place, most other countries sent their best possible squads to gain tournament experience.

For Germany, the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, and Mesut Özil all starred as Die Mannscaft’s Under 21s won the European Championships in 2009. A year later, they reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in South Africa. Four years after that, they were the backbone of the side that lifted the trophy in Brazil.

As a result, young English players can now see a route from the age groups sides into the senior set up. The likes of Jadon Sancho, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham move through the system seamlessly, gaining experience which stands them in good stead for when the time arrives for them to become regulars in the senior squad.

Element four is How We Coach. It’s a well-known fact that England lags behind the likes of Spain and France when it comes to the number of qualified coaches each country is. More coaches trained to a higher standard leads to more capable players being developed at grassroots level.

How We Coach aims to raise the bar as well as ingraining game strategies, training strategies and a coaching method that delivers the rest of the England DNA through a consistent framework.

Finally, there is How We Support. This looks at everything away from what happens for 90 minutes on the pitch. England Football DNA wants the Three Lions to lead the way in sports science, medicine, analytics and the psychological side of the game to create players who have the full package and are as strong physically and mentally as they are talented.


FA DNA helping to develop english footballHas England Football DNA worked?

The project was originally geared at winning the 2022 World Cup, a 10-year plan of sorts given that England DNA was launched in 2012. We’re effectively halfway through the cycle and there have been undoubted improvements in the fortunes of English football.

Most notably, Gareth Southgate led England on an unexpected run to the World Cup semi finals in Russia. But much of the hard work has been going on below senior level. England won World Cups at Under 20 and Under 17 level and a European Championship at Under 19s whilst the number of young English players starting regularly in the Premier League has exploded in the current 2019-20 season in particular.

The players who delivered those successes will be peaking just in time for 2022 in Qatar. That’s when we’ll fine out if the England Football DNA blueprint has delivered. Right now, the signs are promising.



Getting certified to coach football for kids


How do you become a youth football coach? It’s obviously not quite as simple as just waking up one day, deciding you fancy becoming the next Jurgen Klopp, signing up for your nearest grassroots side and being put in charge of the Under 12s.

To ensure that the coaches working with children and down the country are providing the very best education to young players, the Football Association has put in place a youth soccer coaching license, which all good clubs and academies will require individuals to have achieved before they are allowed to enter the coaching system.

This youth soccer coaching license comes in the form of FA Coaching Badges, considered to be one of the best coach training programs in the world. We’re going to explain what it’s all about and how you can get certified to coach football for kids.


Qualification-Pyramid - developing as a coachWhat are FA Coaching Badges?

There are five different grades of youth soccer coaching licence available through the FA, ranging from the FA Level 1 qualification which allows you to work with players from Under 7s right through to the UEFA Pro Licence which is what a manager must hold in order to work in the Premier League.

The FA’s coach training programme begins with a gentle introduction to the game at Level 1, helping coaches to deliver appropriate training sessions for children. Level 2 builds on the basics and is where a coach can begin to shape their own philosophy.

Level 3 moves away from a national qualification to a continental one with the UEFA B Licence. This coach training programme is still delivered by the FA, but it is a Europe-wide standard for those wanting to work in the professional game.

Because it’s a qualification that is recognised across the UEFA confederation, it ensures that coaches in England, France, Germany, Spain and the rest are all licensed to the same standard. This allows for freedom of movement between countries, allowing a coach like Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti to work in several countries without ever needing to take further qualifications in order to satisfy a specific national governing body.

UEFA B focusses on advanced technical, tactical, physical, psychological and social needs of players as well as helping a coach to understand how to transfer their ideas and the decision-making process onto their players.

UEFA A builds on this by teaching a coach how they can best impact an 11v11 environment. Finally, the UEFA Pro Licence adds leadership and management strategies to a coach’s repertoire.


Coaching Pathways - What does a coach need to teach?

What does a coach need to teach football to children?

FA Level 1 will teach a coach the very basics, allowing them to work with players aged from Under 7s upwards. Alongside this qualification, a coach will also have to be CRB checked to ensure that they are suitable to work with children.

Once these two qualifications are in place, then you’ll be ready to take the first steps on your coaching journey.



How does a coach get their Level 1?

FA Level 1 Coaching Badge courses are run by county FA’s up and down the country.

To find out where they are in your area, simply contact your local FA.

If you are unsure about undertaking a soccer coaching license as an individual, then you might be able to find a grassroots club or coaching academy who can help you through the process.

Because these organisations are often desperate for more volunteer coaches to help them stay afloat, they will be more than willing to support coaches gain their FA Coaching Badges, both with practical support and sometimes even financial.

It can therefore be worth seeing what coaching opportunities exist where you live and exploring whether there are any clubs which will support you on the football coach training programme.

We Make Footballers support their coaches through the various levels as it’s mutually beneficial to both parties.Helping a coach gain their qualifications makes WMF an attractive academy to work for at the same time as ensuring that the coaches they employ are capable of delivering the best possible sessions.





Coaching pathwys - alternative courses from FA Are there any alternative soccer coaching licenses available?

Yes and no. There are many other soccer coaching qualifications which you can pick up, but virtually all of them work alongside the FA’s Coaching Badges.

We Make Footballers offer their own specialist qualifications such as 1v1 training, which coaches can gain to broaden their knowledge base and skillset. These however are only applicable with the FA’s industry-standard badges.


The FA themselves have a range of other badges which a coach can gain. These include specialisms in goalkeeper coaching, disability football and futsal, the small sided version of the game using a heavy ball which is hugely popular in South America.

All of these additional modules require at least the most basic understanding of football however, which can only come from the FA Level 1 Badge.

Essentially, if you want to get certified to coach football for children, then it’s the FA soccer coaching license scheme which will get you there.



What machine-learning can do for football training

Imagine a world where your child kicked a ball incorrectly and then was told by a machine exactly how to kick it correctly next time. With today’s (known) technology, this isn’t the stuff of science fiction. All a machine would need to do this is the following:

RequirementExisting technology
A categorised library of thousands of videos showing athletes kicking balls effectively or a data set that provides the machine with what ‘success’ is (i.e. kicking this way resulted in 56% more goals / accurate passes).YouTube
A software to understand what it is ‘seeing’, (i.e. it is seeing someone kicking a ball first of all – rather than a cat climbing a tree) and map this against its data to assess what needs to be improved.A programmed application with machine learning capabilities
A camera with movement sensors able to measure speed, direction and distance.Most modern smartphones
A programmed user interface that then tells the user, in a way it can understand (not millions of 1’s and 0’s), how it can improve its technique.Existing interface platform (such as a native iOS Mobile App) and a development team.
Hardware to process this information – or the software’s access to the ‘cloud’ to process this information on its behalf.Server-side infrastructure (i.e. .NET servers or the AWS platform)

With most requirements above available in YouTube, modern smartphones and within development teams’ capabilities across the globe an app like this probably exists somewhere or is in creation. At minimum it is well within the realms of possibility.

With that the case, you may be asking why we are continuing with our current business model of physical coaching using humans. Well, football is a human sport and needs humans to provide the coaching. We believe that this can’t, and shouldn’t, be outsourced to machines. Although we will utilise technology in our organisation to improve our customer experience and product, we will always use humans to deliver our coaching.

Absolutely technology can help coaches be better coaches, and this should be explored as technology becomes cheaper and more widely available. I’m thinking of coaches with augmented reality glasses that recognise when a child isn’t following the drill and advises the appropriate solution. Drones that can quickly setup new coaching drills of cones or collecting balls to reduce coaches time away from actual coaching. This would enable coaches to better assist all children faster, with better concentration and with greater accuracy.

We should, however, remember that machines can’t do the following (they may be able to imitate it. But they can’t do it):

  • Recognise what level a child is playing at and, with the coaches own development history as a reference, advise the right coaching technique to challenge yet not overwhelm the player. The child may also have a specific temperament or learning style that the coach is aware of while they will also include in their approach to coaching feedback.
  • Say hello to a child and shake their hand with genuine excitement about teaching them football.
  • Understand what rain feels like and how they might play differently in it.
  • Know what a grazed knee feels like and what medical advice to administer while keeping the child enthusiastic about football.
  • Know when a child is excited and what that feels like.
  • Pull up a child when they have insulted another child and make them recognise how they might have made the other child feel.
  • Know when a child is upset and what that underlying issue might feel like – true empathy.

Also, without the child giving huge amounts of personal or biometric data away – this machine doesn’t know the following:

  • How old the child is
  • What level they are playing at
  • What their goals in football are
  • What their footballing history is
  • Whether they have any underlying medical conditions
  • Who their friends are and who they like playing with
  • Who their favourite footballer is and what position they want to play in
  • What team they support
  • Whether they may be be vulnerable or have low levels of trust

A coach may know or anticipate all this about a child and, in a moment of error, be able to visualise, process and advise of a solution based on all this information in the blink of an eye. Whether we achieve this with machines or not – I fear that the moment machines are able to do all of the above we will have long been exterminated by them 🙂

So, when thinking about the future of football we must remember that:

Great human coaches:

  • are unique role models that young children look up to.
  • build greater bonds and connectivity in society by giving children positive human interactions with other humans
  • bring us as humans closer together, one child at a time
  • apply human experiences to solve human problems

And that technology can support coaches by:

  • Giving them greater information to review in their analysis
  • Aggregate more information than possible by a human
  • Find patterns of behaviour that are not possible by a human
  • Provide consistency in analysis and support
  • Offer shared resources at appropriate times to collectively improve coaching

We should always remember that humans are not a problem to be solved, and technology should be added only when it helps us be better humans.

This is an area we are fascinated by and will continue to evolve in We Make Footballers. If you are interested in finding out more about how we are utilising technology in improving football coaching, feel free to reach out here and start a conversation.

Thank you.

Why England is the best country to run a football coaching business

Football is the most popular sport in the world. According to FIFA, there are 265 million players actively involved in football around the world, representing four percent of the planet’s population.

All of those players have to start learning the game somewhere and for the vast majority, that will be in football coaching courses. That means that the commercial football coaching business is a booming one and, as a result, it’s an area in which people are quickly discovering they can make a living from the sport they love on a full-time basis.

Coaching businesses run in England have long benefited from football’s place as the country’s national sport and their popularity only looks likely to increase over the coming years. They are also becoming increasingly relevant to the Academy structure, generating players and the next generation of professionals.

Here are three reasons why England is the best country to run a football coaching business.

Football is becoming fashionable again

The years between 2006 and 2018 weren’t great for the English national team as they fell out of favour with vast swathes of the nation. There were ritual humiliations in national tournaments and a sense that a lot of the players representing the country where more interested in money than anything else. That disenfranchised a lot of people.

All that changed though thanks to Gareth Southgate and England’s performances at the World Cup last summer. That unexpected run to the semi finals in Russia prompted the country to fall back in love with a new, young national team who connected with the public. That new connection was shown in the celebrations across England with each passing victory and the pride shown in their achievements.

It’s also made football fashionable again. There is a real feeling that over the course of the next few years, this side under Southgate could go onto achieve something special and if they do, then football’s popularity is going to increase and more and more children are going to want to play the game. A boom time is coming and in 2022 the World Cup may be “coming home”!

Women’s football is about to explode

All of that interest in the men’s team could pale into insignificance compared to what is happening with women’s football. The Women’s Super League is a now a fully professional, fully funded league with broadcast deals, sponsorship and increasing standards. After years of hard and unrecognised work, the UK football environment for girls and women is finally growing.

England’s Lionesses meanwhile continue to grow in popularity. Over six million watched their opening game against Scotland at this summer’s World Cup in France, which was six times the number who tuned into the men’s Nations League clash with Switzerland a few hours earlier.

Players like Steph Houghton, Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Fran Kirby and Nikita Paris are becoming household names and as a result, we’re seeing more and more young girls signing up for football coaching. The days of the sport being 95 percent boys and five percent girls are over. England is a leader in the Women’s game and we hope to see this fantastic work continue, not to mention perhaps WIN the World Cup this summer in France!

That means the pool of talent to coach is going to grow significantly as many more girls see football is a credible hobby and because of professionalism, a possible career. Football coaching businesses in England are going to be at the forefront of this revolution over the next five to 10 years, hopefully, doubling their market of players.

Sport Facilities are improving

You might read that it is all doom and gloom with council-run football facilities falling into disrepair because of local government funding cuts, but the opposite is true of private facilities with the FA handing out more money to improve the standards of club’s facilities up and down the country.

The major change over the last five years has been the increase in the number of 3G pitches and Astro training pitches. These facilities allow football to take place across the year, eliminating the prospects of cancelations which are often brought on by England’s wet climate.

Another note is the rise of Futsal and number of players taking part in the indoors fast paced 5 a side version of the game! This means that the public attitude towards football is improving and becoming more open-minded as to playing it indoors and outdoors.

Whilst the country still lags behind the likes of Germany in terms of 3G pitch numbers, the FA have committed into turning more grass pitches into artificial surfaces. Many schools and colleges are also constructing their own facilities. That’s good news for coaching businesses who wish to operate outdoors all year round.

All in all, there are an increasing amount of positives that make England the best country to run a football coaching business in! Football is deeply ingrained in our society and DNA, it is something widely celebrated and that we hope more and more of the nation will take part in. All these factors will help us become the best footballing nation in the world and one day, win a world cup!

What can I do alongside my football scouting career?

If you’re already involved in football through scouting, then chances are you’ve got a lot of the skills needed to succeed in other areas of the game. So why restrict what you do to watching football, looking at players, identifying talents, creating player pathways and filing reports on oppositions? How can you go full-time in football?

Here are some other roles within football that you could take on in addition to your duties as a football scout – because who doesn’t want to devote more of their lives to the beautiful game?

Performance analyst

Whilst your scouting role involves watching and judging the talents of players and oppositions, a performance analyst goes much deeper in terms of what they look at with the focus on breaking down every single play from a game involving either the club you are employed by or that of an upcoming opponent.

This could be for the purpose of showing an individual player what they did or didn’t do correctly in their last game. It might be to help them deal with the threat offered by the opponent they’ll be in direct opposition against in the next game.

The coaching staff may wish to analyse set pieces. They might want to know if there is a weakness they can exploit, such as a defender who struggles under high balls or a midfielder who is often ponderous in possession and could thus be pressed into a mistake.

Performance analysts can play a huge role in not only preparing a team for what is to come, but also helping make a difference to their chances of victory. The technology used isn’t that much different to that of a scout either, with tools such as Scout7, STATS and data complied by Opta being the programmes of choice.

This area of the game is growing at a fast pace as more and more clubs are replicating the Performance Analysts departments seen in the Premier League. There are also an increasing amount of online and University courses to help you retrain.

Youth coach

If you are already working as a scout, then you’ll know the attributes that young players need to succeed in the game – after all, you are looking for them on a frequent basis. That makes you perfectly equipped to branch into youth coaching.

Not only will you be teaching youngsters the basics of football, but your knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport has the potential to transform their lives and prospects of making it as a semi-pro or professional. In addition to finding the best talent in your scouting role, you’ll also be creating the best talent at the same tie through coaching.

To become a youth coach, you’ll need to gain the necessary qualifications and clearances but seeing as you are already involved in football, that shouldn’t be a problem. You may even already hold them.

Becoming a youth coach is the first step on a coaching path that could lead you to take on duties as an academy coach at a professional club, and the sky really is the limit from there.

Run your own football coaching business

If you want to coach young people and create your own legacy through it as your own boss, then you could combine your football scouting career with running your own football coaching business. You’ll be building your own football empire, creating pathways for players, improving your community and scouting from players on your doorstep!

Running your own coaching business is the perfect job that can go hand-in-hand with your duties as a scout.

With your own weekly sessions coaching from 200 to 600 players, you’ll be gaining access to a whole host of young players, some of whom might possess the talents to progress to an academy and who you could therefore recommend.

If you think that running a football coaching business alongside your career as scout is the right option for you, download a brochure to take a look at the We Make Footballers franchise opportunity. Many of our existing franchisees run their business along their scouting career and have found it to be the perfect fit!

5 skills needed to be a great coach

It’s a question that most football coaches will ponder on a regular basis – what are the most important skills needed to be a great coach?

There are the obvious ones, such as the ability to coach improvements in the players under your charge and knowing how to recognise and develop talent. These are what we call the hard skills, the ones that the necessary coaching qualifications, study of the game and experience can teach you.

There are many other important skills to becoming a great coach will come from the mental side and social side of the game that can be a great asset to your coaching potential.

Have a look at these five skills that will help you become a great football coach

Patience and perseverance

Unless you are working with a Lionel Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo, then you need to have patience to be a great football coach. Different players learn and pick up skills at different speeds and in different ways. Some will excel in technical areas such as shooting, ball manipulation or passing whilst others will impress in learning positioning, work rate, team leadership and the tactical side of the game.

Because of this, the best coaches are the ones with the patience and perseverance to help a player develop in any area of their game. It could take weeks for you to teach a young player how to successfully produce a Maradona turn, it might need a period of months to get another comfortable with using their weaker foot or that you coach a player to start communicating in football.

All of the examples above require patience and the ability to coach the player in a learning style that they understand and react positively to.

A great coach will get that player there eventually though, and the feeling of reward when they finally master a skill you’ve been working on for a long period of time is one of the best that you can get as a coach. There is nothing better than seeing patience and perseverance triumph.

Communication with players

You could be the best football coach in the country with the best footballing mind on the planet, but none of that will matter if you can’t get your ideas or feedback across in a clear manner which your players are able to understand. That’s why communication is so important.

When dealing with younger players whose attention may wander, you need to be as concise as possible with the information, you also need to be engaging and speak in a way that they find interesting. That way, none of what you say ends up being lost in the wind. As players progress through the age groups, you’ll need to change your style in order to get across more complex information. This is a complex skill that takes coaches years to master as no player, group or age category are the same.

The best coaches will adapt the way they communicate depending on the scenario, age group or the player they are communicating with. The aim should always be to get the point across without having a negative impact on morale or motivation.

Imagination and creativity

The best coaches are the ones who are able to inspire their players, and a lot of that inspiration can often come through imagination. Thinking of new ways in which you can get your message across will keep your players on their toes and maintain high levels of motivation among them.

This might come from dreaming up new coaching practices so that you aren’t just relying on the same old routines straight out of a manual. It might come from putting yourself in your players shoes and imagining what they would love to be taught – if you’ve got a number of kids turning up in Neymar shirts, tap into their idolism of the world’s most expensive player by teaching them some of his tricks for part of a session.

Creativity is a fundamental skill to have especially when working with younger players as you will need to keep them engaged when coaching. This creativity can also feed into the playing style of your players as you have set a positive creative example.

Your imagination can help keep your players interested and increase their love of the game – and the more they love the game, the more they’ll enjoy playing it.

Positivity and objectiveness

There are always positives to take from a game or training session – even one that goes drastically wrong. The best coaches will be able to take a step back from a footballing event that hasn’t gone to plan and look at it objectively. From there, they can remain positive about it, realising that we can learn as much from our failures as we can our successes.

That’s an important message for players, too. They should never be afraid not to try something new for fear of failure; it’s better to have something go wrong and learn enough to be able to successfully complete it next time than never try it at all.

Sometimes post-match debriefs are better done on the next session instead of the day of the game to allow for yourself and the players to take time and review the game. Some coaches also do not allow parents to contact them until 24hours after the game to ensure that communications are less emotional and more objective.

Negativity is one of the most damaging feelings you can inflict on young players. It should be avoided at all costs.

Passion for your sport and coaching

No team has ever won trophies through ability alone – they have to have passion to go with it. Would Manchester City have managed to secure back-to-back Premier League titles without Pep Guardiola’s passion to be the best driving them on? Probably not – especially given that they’d smashed every record going when lifting the first of those championships.

Players will often take their lead from coaches. If you’ve got a coach whose love of the game is infectious, then it will spread through the group. By instilling a passion for football, a desire to work hard and a thirst to be the best into your players, you’ll be giving them a fire that can take them far in the game.

Becoming the best coach that you can be is a lifelong journey and we believe that coaches should be encouraged to continue their work as football has a huge impact on our society and the world that we live in. If you are passionate about coaching, helping create opportunities for players and improving your local community – take a look at the We Make Footballers franchising opportunity.

Why experience matters in football coaching

Experience is a word that is bandied about all the time when it comes to football managerial and coaching roles, especially at the higher reaches of the game.

Not having enough managerial or coaching experience can often be a difficult obstacle for new coaches to overcome in football when trying to launch a career or go full-time in football.

Why is coaching experience in football so important? Here are five reasons.

Experience gives a coach professional knowledge

Imagine if you had designs on being a scientist and straight out of school found yourself in a role in which you were expected to perform nuclear fusion. You wouldn’t have the knowledge nor the experience to do that, which could lead to disaster. That’s why those scientists trusted with such a task have spent time learning their craft – gaining the professional knowledge needed to carry out the job.

Now, nobody is saying that coaching football is as dangerous a task as fiddling with radioactive substances. But the best coaches will have professional knowledge behind them. This doesn’t mean that to be a good coach you need to have a background as a professional player, it means that you need to be committed to your craft. Completing coaching badges, volunteering, CPD events and getting involved in the game in any way that you can will build your professional knowledge and background.

Focused development can also be key to achieving your coaching goals, think about the age groups, level and environment that you want to coach in and build your experience around it.

You’ll know how to interact with players

Manuals are not enough to teach you is how to interact with your players, experience on the field is key to building this skillset. The greatest managers in the world are the greatest because they can coax the very best out of each and every one of their players and that comes from knowing which buttons to push.

You might have a player who excels when their confidence is boosted through praise and admiration. Alternatively, you may have one who is motivated more by being fired up to do better than they currently are. Carrot or stick? Choosing the right one can make all the difference.

Taking the time to get to know your players is fundamental, they are all individuals and one size does not fit all.

No two players are going to be the same mentally, just as no two people on the planet think exactly the same. Experience of dealing with a wide variety of individuals will give you the tools and knowledge you need to extract the very best out of the players under your charge, no matter what their personality type.

Learn from failure and defeats

The more experience that you have as a coach, the bigger the body of work you’ll have behind you to draw and learn from. That’s what kept Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United at the top for so long.

He was constantly looking back over his career at what worked and what didn’t work and was therefore able to reinvent his United team over the course of nearly three decades to always be challenging for honours.

The ability to understand who you are, recognise the journey you’ve been on as a coach and analyse your experiences will allow you to make the most of your talents.

A clear Coaching Philosophy and Playing Style

Philosophy is a word that is bandied around almost as much as experience, but the two go hand-in-hand. A more experienced coach will have a clearer philosophy about how they want to play the game and how they intend to brief their players on doing so, honed over many hours on the training pitch.

A philosophy is important as it affects everything you do, from the sessions you put on to the coaching style you use. If you’re of the Pep Guardiola possession-at-all costs mould, then your coaching will be heavily possession based. A budding Jurgen Klopp will work on fast transitions and moving the ball at blistering pace whilst those inspired by Jose Mourinho will place a huge emphasis on defending. Remember, no philosophy is right or wrong. Respect others in the game and try to learn from new coaching philosophies and playing styles that you may encounter

Even the best coaches have mentors

Perhaps the biggest reason that experience matters in football is because those coaches who have worked under or with another, more experienced coach before setting out on their own have received invaluable exposure to an individual who knows what they are doing. This individual may have an outlook that challenges or develops your own attitude to football.

The best coaches are like sponges – they absorb ideas from anyone and everyone around them. A coach who has been mentored will therefore have picked up knowledge, ideas and experience that you can’t get anywhere else. They also remain objective and are focused on finding the best formula for their team.

Every great manager talks about a mentor whom they worked under and learned from. Mourinho was a translator at Barcelona when he picked up all the tools that would turn him into one of the greats from Sir Bobby Robson. Guardiola had Johan Cruyff at the same club. Going back a few years, Liverpool’s great dynasties of the late 1970s and 1980s were based around the famous Anfield Bootroom, each new manager being appointed internally having learned from the success stories that went before them.

If you’ve already worked with a successful coach and can take their ideas forward and combine them with your own, then you’ve got a far better chance of being a brilliant coach yourself. That’s why experience can make all the difference.

If you’re looking to build your coaching experience and go full-time in football, creating a viable football coaching business is perhaps the right move for you!