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Win! And win at all costs!



COACH LEE GARLICK IS AN EXPERIENCED YOUTH COACH, QUALIFIED WITH UEFA A LICENCE, FA ADVANCED YOUTH AWARD & BSC (HONS) SPORTS & EXERCISE SCIENCE. HE IS CURRENTLY HEAD OF COACHING & COACH MENTOR WITH EXPERIENCE OF COACHING & MENTORING FROM GRASS ROOTS TO THE PROFESSIONAL GAME. coachgarlick.co.uk

The forbidden word in coaching, “winning”. Something that is often deemed non-important to any coach working in youth football, especially in the eyes of those with an understanding of long term player development.

Well screw that! I want youth coaches to win. I want them to place winning at the very top of their priorities. And second. And third. I want them to win every game they play. I want them to encourage their players to want to win every game, and to do anything it takes to get that win!

But hold that thought for a second, let me elaborate…. winning is important, but only when clearly explained and discussed with players. To me winning isn’t solely the score on the scoreboard (yes of course in the literal context that’s what winning is) but the individual “wins” which we as coaches should be challenging our players to strive for every session or game. For example, a player in their developmental years can still accomplish a “win” or a number of “wins” during a game in which their team may have came second best in terms of goals scored.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example… your centre half has difficulty recognising and completing opportunities to pass forward. If we are looking at that player as a team of one, then how can we as coaches devise training sessions and game challenges which enable that player to succeed, or win, at this aspect of his game? Does the player have the opportunity to practice and fine tune the skills required to master this skill and execute effectively in game scenarios?

If yes, then that should be seen and celebrated as a win – A win for that team of one! It is for this reason that we should encourage players to chase these wins and commit to the process of achieving them.

It must be said that some caution is needed with this method. Coaches who are going to adopt this must be clear on what exactly they see as a win, and communicate this thoroughly with players so that everyone has an understanding of what success looks and feels like. The role of the coach during a training session or game is to monitor the process each player is going through in their quest to “win”. Intention must also be spotted and acknowledged or praised by the coach, not merely the outcome. Case in point being our centre half from previous – If during the early stages of his efforts to achieve this specific goal (or “win”) he spots a pass into the no 10 and attempts, however the execution is not quite right, it is vital that the coach acknowledges this and praises the intent, specifically if this is a first step in what may be a long journey. If this error persists for a significant period of time, then maybe some coaching must take place, but in the early stages intention over outcome is crucial.

So to summarise, adopt a winning mentality. Set up to win. Train to win. Go above and beyond to win. But, be CLEAR with what you define as “winning”, especially during the developmental years.

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during the developmental years.

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