'...the players best interests are always at heart of the club and coaches'.
Name, age, where are you based?
Max Marshall, 21, Matlock, England
Current and past Roles:
Current: Matlock Town Juniors U16s and U18s
Past: Every age group at Matlock Town Juniors
BSC Hons Sports Coaching Degree
FA Level 2
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
When I was 15, I was studying at college whilst playing football for Matlock Town Academy in the NPL Academy league. Part of my college work required me to do a number of hours coaching in the local community. I went to my first session in a primary school, which fate would have it, was my old primary school!
After speaking to a number of the teachers upon arrival the time had come to do my first ever session. I coached a class of 30 students aged 8/9 and came away knowing that coaching is what I wanted to do in the future. Since then, I have coached every age group at my local football club, Matlock Town Juniors whilst studying for a degree in sports coaching.
I have been lucky with how much support the club have given me; for example, I was given the opportunity to manage a game in the FA Youth Cup aged 20 and have had my badges paid for me.
Any achievements or highlights you would like to mention?
Completing my university degree is definitely a major achievement for me, especially because I didn’t do well at school, I never would have thought I would have a degree.
I think being one of the youngest ever managers in the FA youth cup too is something I am extremely proud of. I am yet to face any big names, but now I am looking for a job in the professional game, I hope to face some big names in the future.
What did you find most beneficial from your sports coaching degree at University and how have you been able to apply it to your coaching roles?
The most beneficial piece of information I have gained from my degree is the importance of planning, doing and reviewing. This is something that before going to university, I tended not to do. Whereas now, my sessions are planned and reviewed and reflected on to help not only improve myself, but improve the players I am working with.
I also studied modules focusing on “Talent Development”, “High performance coaching”, and “Strength and Conditioning” whilst at University. These modules have given me an insight as to what it is like to coach top players and will for sure help me in the future, especially as I go further up the ladder during my career.
How is the environment at Matlock Town and what foundations are in place, to ensure that youth development is delivered to the highest standard possible?
Matlock Town is a great grassroots club to be involved in, the players best interests are always at heart of the club and coaches. Matlock provide coaches with their badges, which in turn means that coaches are always interested in developing themselves which ultimately helps the players develop.
There is also a mixture of coaching experience at the club, from level 1 through to UEFA B coaches. Coaches with 30 years’ experience and coaches with 2 years’ experience and everyone is willing to help each other develop.
What considerations are you taking into account when working with different age groups and what specific changes do you make to session content and delivery?
When coaching the younger age groups, I make sure that the delivery of each session is fun, that’s what it should be about when you are young. With the older age groups, I try to make the sessions challenging for them and really push them out of their comfort zones and try get the best out of them.
With any age group, my main long-term aim has always been to develop the person first and then the player. This is often neglected at all levels of football, the psychological and the social corners have always come first for me when coaching which is something people forget.
How many great players have slipped away because their attitude wasn’t right or they weren’t in a good place mentally?
What skills do you think you will need to develop if looking to progress into the Senior game as a career, and what opportunities are available to you to be able to acquire these skills?
My next step is to get on my UEFA B course when this whole virus situation is over. This will help me improve my knowledge in the game and my understanding of the FA four corner model and the principles of play.
Doing this will also open up many more doors and opportunities in terms of jobs and coaching opportunities. It will also help me get one step closer to the dream of coaching at a professional club.
What’s been best for your career development so far and what are you doing to keep up-skilled?
I think the fact that I have been involved with so many different age groups at Matlock has given me the opportunity to experience so many different personalities and ability levels. It has also kept me really busy so I am constantly thinking of sessions and then thinking how I can improve that session next time.
Managing an under 18s side on my own at the age of 19 was also a huge challenge, which I enjoyed thoroughly. The first challenge was gaining the respect of the players, especially as I knew some of the players personally. Then it was about keeping that respect and keeping the team as professional as possible.
Managing the U18s helped me in so many ways as a coach, especially in my development of understanding the social and psychological sides of the game. To constantly up skill, I am always getting involved with coaching discussions and listening to podcasts to better myself and my knowledge.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced and how was you able to overcome them?
When I first began coaching, I was asked to deliver a football session at an after-school club, as a part of my position as a coach for local primary schools. I was told that another coach would join me and have all of the equipment, however, I was in fact left on my own with one tennis ball to coach a group of young, energetic and football-hungry primary school kids.
I delivered the session regardless, which was a huge challenge for me, especially so early in my coaching career.
How’s the future looking, what’s next?
Having graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a sports coaching degree, I am looking to apply the theoretical knowledge I have gained into practice. I am aiming to book on to a UEFA B course as soon as possible to help me do this and further expand upon my experience. Whilst I wait for the UEFA B course to begin, I am looking for a full-time coaching job to keep my skills up-to-date, however the current epidemic is hindering this slightly.