Our Football Player’s Three Personas. A Coach’s Guide.

Does every football player fall into a distinct set of personas? We think there are 3 and here is why.

 
A Coach’s Guide

At We Make Footballers we meet, greet and coach A LOT of football players (currently around 5,000 children each week across the country). A lot of different children. We know each football player has a different story, a different background, a different family life, with different routines, hobbies, beliefs and personalities – that’s what makes them, and our sessions, so much fun!

But how do we manage to coach so many different children at the same time?

Is it easy explaining and engaging with so many different children?

What can we do to help ourselves as coaches?
 

We believe every player that attends one of our sessions falls into one of three ‘persona’ categories. This is based upon over a decade of direct experience of players attending our sessions in the UK, along with additional extensive help and experience from our coaches and colleagues country wide.

Each persona has different needs, different requirements from coaches, and therefore slightly different objectives and targets.

Below are the three identified personas, along with what we believe their main traits are, how they may act, what their parents may want and how our coaches can improve their engagement with that type of player.

 

Level 1 – Recreational Player

 

Who is this football player?

This football player is usually relatively new to the game. They may not have played organized football before, or perhaps only experienced it at school or with family at home and enjoyed it, so they are joining us for their next experience.

Their playing ability will vary but they may not be used to structured sessions with objectives and ‘goals’ to achieve.
 
 
What do their parents want from a coaching company?

They commonly want a positive and friendly first impression for their child. They too may also be nervous, so a warm environment greeting them every week is paramount.

They want to see their child enjoying themselves above all else, and comfortable within the environment.

They want to see their child active, engaged, learning but also having fun. Laughing, cheering, smiling and interacting with other players and coaches.

 
Parents will also commonly request information on how they can further their child’s football experience at clubs. They will appreciate information, advice and contacts about who to turn to in their local area.
 
 
How can WMF coaches improve their engagement with these players?

Begin by lowering expectations in the Technical corner and focus on the Social and Psychological corners to start with.

Make sure the player understands what is going on at all times. Where should they be for the warm up, do they have a ball? Do they know where to go for exercise 1 and exercise 2, do they understand the exercises?
 
 
Get on their level – literally! Kneel to explain things or when making coaching points, get on their eye level, try not to tower over them.
 
Learn their name! Using their name empowers the player, makes them feel wanted and special. Once they feel special they will be free to focus on the fun and learning aspects of our sessions.
 
 
 
Level 2 – Grassroots Player
 
 
Who is this football player?

These players have usually played football before elsewhere, either at a school, or a grassroots club – they are usually very alert and aware of what a football coaching session entails. Even though WMF sessions are unique in their nature they should usually be able to get involved relatively quickly.

This football player will be with us because they either a) just enjoy playing football and want as much as they can get or b) they wish to improve for their grassroots team they play for on a weekend – mostly it’s a mixture of both!

Their technical level will vary however coaches should be able to challenge them during our sessions.
 
 
What do their parents want from a coaching company?

A warm, friendly atmosphere. Somewhere their child can quickly adapt to and join in with minimal fuss.

Parents of these children usually want, and sometimes expect, our coaches to coach their children. They appreciate and want their children to learn new things and improve whilst with us.

Parents of these children will want their children engaged and always on the move. They do not join our sessions for their child to stand around doing nothing for long periods of time.

 
They want their children to enjoy their experience with us. Having fun will commonly come before development but many parents, correctly, see the marriage between the two things.
 
 
How can WMF coaches improve their engagement with these players?

Respect them. Fistbumps. Show kindness. Ask them their opinion on things football related – how did their last match go? What position did they play? Do they enjoy their current team?

 

Coach them. Don’t be afraid to dig into their technical ability. Making sure we keep a positive environment at all times with no negativity or criticism, can we actually help this player improve their technical skills?

 
Speak to the parents. Ask them their opinions. What do they feel their child needs? We may not be able to accommodate every answer but our sessions should be flexible enough to help with a lot of hopeful outcomes.
 
 
Level 3 – Aspiring Academy Level Player
 
Who is this football player?

Players who are very strong for their age group and have aspirations of potentially playing above grassroots level.

This player usually knows they are good and can get bored if not challenged appropriately or quickly enough.

They will love football and will enjoy most talk about anything football related.
 
 
What do their parents want from a coaching company?

An environment that not only welcomes their child but also progresses them.

They will need to see the benefits of our session content, and the reasons behind it, instantly.

They will expect the coaches to engage, speak to, and develop their child. They are commonly happy with coaches taking a firmer stance with their child and demanding high standards more regularly.
 
They may commonly appreciate contacts within the professional academy game – scouts, coaches and so on.
 
 
How can WMF coaches improve their engagement with these players?
Similar to Level 2 players – Respect them. Fistbumps. Show kindness. Ask them their opinion on things football related – how did their last match go? What position did they play? Do they enjoy their current team?
 
Demand high standards of play from them, allow mistakes but be stricter on ‘lazy’ performance.
 

Challenge them more often – weaker foot challenges, maybe put them up against 2 or more attackers/defenders depending on the drill.

Make sure they have to think during every aspect of every exercise with minimal time allowed to switch off.
 

 

Are you able to group your players from your centres into these categories?

Try to work out who falls into what category as soon as you are able to. This will help you switch your focus and coaching style with each player and hopefully be able to see better results with their development.

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