Coaches who over-correct, stop play, pick apart technique and criticize their players can destroy and undermine their confidence and inevitable do more harm than good.
The child will start to perform poorly and the enjoyment that was once guaranteed will be replaced by a coach pointing the finger and blowing his whistle.
Kids coaches get in the bad habit of pointing out only mistakes. Mistakes in their play, technique, positioning, defending, passing and the list goes on. The training grounds resemble that of a test where the only outcome is right or wrong.
Straight from the coaches manuscript,
“Stop, why didn’t you make that pass?”
“Stop shooting from that range, pass the ball!”
“Don’t run forward, stay back in defence!”
“Stop running with the ball, you’re going to lose it AGAIN!”
Believe it or not, young kids look up to their coaches and want to please them. Sometimes please them at any cost. When coaches are too critical, the child starts to feel like a failure.
What happens when a child is pushed too hard, yelled at or criticised? What happens to these children when the “coach” continues to stop play to overanalyse the last passage of play? The enjoyment factor exponentially declines towards zero and the child is left looking for the door.
In order to improve, children need to train and practice, no surprises here. But they also need to have fun and have the freedom to experiment with their skills. With freedom and without fear they can play without over-thinking their game and start to develop some flair.
Coaches should correct mistakes and suggests ways for improvement. But does it have to be EVERY MISTAKE at grassroots level?
Next time your coaching young children try to offer a specific, but truthful praise before you offer criticism, even if it is constructive. The ratio of praise to criticism should be in the range of 5:1. But do not get fooled, always praise EFFORT, not outcomes.
Note to all soccer parents.
If your child seems frustrated and angry after training, or mentions that he doesn’t want to attend or is dreading playing, chances are you might have to watch the next training session and keep a close eye on the “coach”.
“May the winds of destiny blow you to the stars”