The Role of the Modern Day Youth Coach

I have been sitting here today having a long think on what it is that a modern day grassroots youth coach’s role is?
Being one for the past 8 seasons I began reflecting on what my role was, or at least what I did. My conclusion is quite complex but I feel has substance.

  1. A football coach (obviously), however coach is not really what you are! You are a teacher (there is a difference). A coach is someone who digs deep to allow a person to excel in skills they already possess, a teacher is someone that will teach someone something they do not already know! So, as a teacher we are responsible for planning and administering sessions that allow children to learn through physical interaction with the football, receiving verbal and visual prompts as their guide (or at least that is what it I do!). However, I reflect back and see that most of the coaches I know (or at least coaches I respect and admire) and they do this! But a large majority of the opposition coaches I have come across (there being one issue, “opposition”?? Surely we should work together to get the best out of all 12, 18, 22 kids on the pitch!! I’ll leave that for another day), they shout orders, requests, dictate, however you want to word it. Now on some level, this is what teaching is to a certain degree, but at this age (4-18) they do not really need to playing in such stringent and tight playing guidelines, surely prompts is the way forward?? Anyway..this is where I feel the current coaching badges go wrong…not once have I ever been on an FA course and had any form of training on what is the best ‘Match-Day Coaching’, or at least guidelines that show what/how is the best method of coaching during live games. Something I feel would benefit development in this Country. Back on track, our first role is a Teacher!
  2. Travel Organiser is the best way I can describe this. Not obviously a hardship for certain coaches or teams as most do play local, so generally it’s a quick 5 minutes with parents after training announcing the venue all of 5 minutes away, however some teams play in county leagues, so travel can be at times up to 100 mile round trips. With the modern convenience of the internet and Sat Nav, again not really a hardship. The hard part is next! So your second role is a travel organiser!
  3. Taxi! Or Minibus driver. As most coaches at a County level will know, transport around the county becomes a problem when the idea of cost comes into the equation. Some parents do not like the idea of travelling for a game for their child and in some respects, I agree! Why should a parent drive past 10-12 more local football teams to play somewhere in the middle of the county for what could be a 60 minute game. Now I know most will say “Do it for the kids!” BUT, when said parent is already driving a minimum of once a week to training, possibly leaving work early, sitting in the cold and wet (some parents do love this) then driving a 100 mile round trip and possibly be thumped 10-0 in the process is sometimes hard to take. So some parents choose not to go, car sharing then starts BUT as coaches we have an obligation under Child Protection to ensure relevant safety is in place and that the child will be definitely safe getting to and from the match, the driver is allowed to carry children etc. etc. (minefield or what!!!) then if all else fails you become the lead driver picking up and dropping off kids to ensure you have enough players and avoid STUPID league fines for not having the right amount of players!! WHAT A HEADACHE!!. So, Logistics Expert is your third role.
  4. Accountant!! This is the role as coaches we all hate. Asking for money from the parents to coach their child (cheap babysitting I hear some say). This is to pay for league fees (what a load of crap that is at times), referees (money very well spent and very well earned by the ref), kit, balls, training, pitches then to top it all off (in my case they were) a selfish club which expects a contribution for the privilege of wearing their shirt! Now not all clubs are selfish, I am currently working with a club that does LOADS for the kids in return, but my previous club did take the absolute biscuit with what they wanted in! The worst part is when you have to ask the child for the money because you never see the parent, obviously poor little fella doesn’t have it, then you speak to the parent and say your backdated subs are due £60 (or whatever it is), they say there having money issues and don’t have it, but still drop their child off every week, then others moan saying they are not paying for someone else’s child so anarchy breaks out (very extreme example I am spouting here but it does happen). So you are Bailiff for HMRC as your fourth role.
  5. Club Committee Member or something along the lines, attending meetings once a month to talk about how someone said something to someone’s cat and there not happy. Boring Boring Boring side of football, but someone has to run the clubs and ensure all the Charter Standard is kept up and that all people are CRB Checked and Qualified so it is very important! But my god BORING!! So your Fifth Role is a Committee Member!
  6. After ALL this there is still one more role and this role for me is where nearly all the pleasure flows back into the job and makes you realise how special it is to be a football coach. For me (who has nearly always worked with 16-18 year olds, at times some sessions with 6-11year olds), I have always felt self-pride knowing you’re a role model and you are making a difference in these kids’ lives. So much so that when you see your past players come up to you and shake your hand and are delighted to see you, such a great feeling. The most special feeling is seeing that young lad walk out to make his debut for the non-league side you work for and on a couple occasions knowing there out there in the FA Cup First Round or seeing their name on Sky Sports News, it’s a feeling that is indescribable (maybe I’ll know the feeling when I have children of my own). It’s something that makes you realise what an important role it is your fulfilling and that it may feel hard at times, but when you’re finished and you look back and you know you did as much as you could to guide them kids, its special!! Some kids come from great, loving, stable home environments and the very next child has come from a poor, heart breaking, hell hole of a house with no parental support, no money for proper boots and mismatched kit but you treat them kids the same, you feel the warmth from these children and when they turn around at 18 and say ‘Thank You’, you know it’s all worth it!! Your final and most important role you should all never forget is Role Model (those of you that are not coaches and want to see this, watch Coach Carter or Gridiron Gang)

We all fulfil many roles as coaches. This is what I have summarised as being the most obvious and important roles we face as Football Coaches.

Please feel free to discuss and I welcome all feedback and comments.

Coach England



St George’s Park-Coaching Badges and the Future!

I have been listening to and reading a lot from the media regarding the launch of St Georges Park. What I will say from the off is that I think it is about time that we have a recognised centre of English football development, albeit over 100 miles from Wembley, the home of English football, but still it’s probably as central a location for equal distance traveling. BUT…..I am very concerned at some of the ludicrous claims coming out of St George’s Park about development.

The first one being a central hub for elite youth development!?!?!?!?!?! Which was confirmed a few months’ back that this is now in the hands of the Professional Academies and a move which saw (rightfully in my opinion), Gareth Southgate step down from his role in the FA, for which he stated “how can I be in charge of something I cannot control”. Absolutely spot on!!!! How can there be claims flying around that this new centre will benefit youth development?? It will benefit a very few young players as most elite youth players will be developed by the new Category 1 Academies. So..let’s agree to disagree that the SGP will NOT be a “big benefit” to youth development as claimed.

During the media coverage and during all the hype I keep hearing that SGP will be the hub for developing “better” coaches and will qualify 30,000 (I did hear on one radio station) new coaches by 2020. Now….here is my big issue with that comment!!! I do not believe that this country suffers with a lack of coaches. A large majority of schools, colleges, county FA, Universities are able to offer Coaching courses up to Level 2, usually at a subsidised rate. Good! County FA’s run the vast amount of Level 3 (UEFA B) courses, I have a large problem with this as it usually older ex pros from a different teaching era and a different playing era administering the courses, which I will come onto later in this piece. Then Level 4 (UEFA A) and Level 5 (UEFA Pro) are carried out usually via the FA (I believe). So, how does a centre in Burton help coaches in Kent, Essex, Tyneside, and Cornwall!!!!! In my opinion unless funded by a club or county or wealthy parent, no coach could travel and be educated at this facility. So there rules out the big advantage of allowing more coaches access to courses.

Going back to my original raised point, I do not believe there is a lack of coaches in England (despite what the stats say from France, Germany and Italy), I feel the biggest issue, (after taking the B License and being educated to a high Degree and academic level, I can speak on this) is the QUALITY OF THE COURSES and the LEVEL OF EDUCATION WITH THE COURSE INSTRUCTORS. Now in all due respects to the FA, I know the courses are written and administered by 1st4Sport Qualifications, but they are endorsed by the FA and UEFA. Now the biggest issue I found on the courses were the fact the course was still delivered solely based upon 4-4-2 (or at least mine was), the drills/sessions are incredibly dated, in the way that “Functions and Phases” do not REALISTICALLY reflect any real time football, its often a lot of drive spouted during the sessions. I also do not understand this nonsense with the folder? YES I agree there should be a good amount of paperwork to do, as let’s be honest all planning is written and that is how we are tested from day 1 in school, BUT the folder on the UEFA B does not really dig deep enough into what coaching is, how can we improve it? Can we put our own twist on coaching? Can we put our own input into the course? The course is not at all forward thinking or creative to stimulate those that want to play their own tactics.

When I did my course I had the privilege of doing it with a seasoned International footballer and the son of a Professional Manager. Now what the problem was, both of them did not really show quality in their coaching, nor did they show much creativity in their thinking. Both were boring and unenthusiastic during their sessions and both didn’t sit there final assessments or do their paperwork. Both were passed, 1 is sitting their A License and 1 is coaching the 16-19 year olds in an Academy, now don’t get me wrong, I understand the benefit of having a professional footballer within the set up, but to have that player who was not a great coach being given the reigns of developing our best young players is ridiculous. This is something the FA has allowed by giving a lenient stance on Pro’s obtaining their badges and given the reigns of youth development to the clubs.

Now I am a student of Football, I’ve played it (albeit to a fairly low level), I have studied it at a university level, I have sat my badges, I have nearly a decade of experience in youth coaching, I know I am extremely knowledgeable on Physiology, Psychology and youth development as a science, BUT because I have never played the game professionally I am negated from ever being given the opportunity to coach at a high level or manage in a professional environment. Sorry to rant on but I am coming to my point!!

SGP will not change this thinking! SGP will not stop this development of coaches! SGP will not develop better coaches because of this!

Now I believe the £105,000,000 would have been better spent as so; having a high standard “hub” in every county (county FA area) which is a good standard of facility with multiple grass/4g pitches, building which has class rooms, gym and facilities to allow elite development. Then from these hubs introduce better quality education, coaching seminars from people involved in Sport, Sport Scientists, Top Coaches from all sports (Sir Clive Woodward, Andy Flower), speaking in seminars, colleges and universities in the counties coming together to do workshops on education and development in all areas of football, play all county youth finals at the venues. Then invest money into re-vamping the coaching badges, have an academic side to the qualifications so the coaches are fully educated in all fields of development, not just having a vague understanding (how many coaches can identify the stages of puberty and rate of growth during puberty?). This type of remodelling I feel would see much better growth and development throughout England. Obviously the HQ for football would be Wembley and a training camp of high calibre for the England squad could have been built in London for let’s say £10,000,000.

I may have ranted on in this blog for which I apologise and I may be ‘letting a few bats out the closet’ so to speak, but as an educated, qualified coach with massive ambition and passion for youth development and all things England, I find it hard to see a change for the better coming from a £105,000,000 facility in Burton.

I always encourage as usual feedback and if you wish to contact me personally I encourage you to do so.

Coach England!

John Terry 78 Caps 6 Goals: England Legend???

John Terry handed in his notice for retirement from international duty. Very unusual timing plus very unusual circumstances. However away from the Race case, his Affair with a players girlfriend and away from his well publicised arrogance and self centred attitude, is John Terry an England Legend?


A legend is some what a pyramid in my eyes, Outstanding Ability, Role Model and being involved in a Memorable or Title winning side. We start with Ability, Terry WAS a very good player, no getting away from it, his never say die attitude and putting body on the line was highly commendable, however in my eyes this is the bare minimum when you put on an England shirt. As a captain, he lead from the front and always pushed his team mates, again, the bare minimum I expect from an England captain. As a defender he was slow, good defensive brain and a strong hard tackler, less than the minimum I expect from an England centre back. So in summary, Terry met the bare minimum requirements for an England player.

Role Model, where do I end let alone begin! Stripped twice from the captaincy, once for extra marital affair with a fellow player and club team mates partner, the second time for suspected racial rant at his long serving counterpart in defence little brother. Albeit cleared in court, it still does not excuse the fact that Terry used “those words” on a football pitch, not what is expected of the England Captain let alone an England player. In all due respect he was a role model on the pitch, again, the minimum expected from a captain in any capacity. So No, John Terry is not a Role Model.

Memorable or Title Winning Side……well obviously not John Terry’s fault that England have won nothing whilst he has played for England. Then again after 78 caps you would hope that something memorable may have happened in a team John Terry played in. So it quickly rules out him being in this category.

In summary John Terry was a very average England Player and in no way a legend and not even worthy of being spoken of in the same sentence as Bobby Moore, Gordon Banks or even modern stars of Linekar, Shearer and Gascoigne.

Please feel free to comment and leave feedback.

Football from Day 1

A new motion was recently passed through The FA to introduce a new limit on playing numbers within youth football. This is fantastic progress as it brings us into line with the rest of Europe as well as replicating similar football seen in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Small sided games involving plenty of touches, plenty of the ball and small areas replicating what could be a scaled down pace of the adult game. This credit due to The FA and most notably, to the work of Nick Levett, well played to all.


However, there is a couple of fundamental flaws which I find could ruin and inhibit the benefits that this type of football offers. The key as to why this works in South America is freedom and creativity of the children playing, this is usually in the streets but its this no rules environment that keeps it fresh and in Europe it is the coaching quality already existent in countries like Germany, Holland etc, allows for consistent and continuous production of youth players. Now in England, we do not have this quality of freedom and street football, nor do we have at a junior level any where near the amount of intelligent coaches that could constructively and pragmatically extract the benefits of this type of football.


The art of making this football work is the same as painting an exquisite piece of art. Start with the finely detailed line drawing, then add some colour then add the detail to create the perfect piece. Now with this style of football, it should work very much like this:

  • 5-7 Years old: An educational process that involves showing two sequences of play; attack and defence. All players learn and experience attack and defence. A principle that will run forever in the game of football, get it in early doors.
  • 8-10 Years old: An education process that involves showing 2 more sequences of play; keeping the ball and getting the ball. As well as learning attack and defence as a concept (not fine details literally players defending the goal and attacking the other goal), learning how to keep possession and regain possession will be invaluable concept skills that again will run forever in the game.
  • 11+ Years old: An education process that involves 2 more sequences of play; playing with the ball and playing around the ball. Combining this up it will create a full spectrum of playing football.


The only further additions required to this is obviously:

  • Ball Mastery (massive fan of this which should be used all the way through youth development and into the adult game, these are fine motor skills which need to be maintained)
  • Tactical Knowledge, this will be learned practically in matches, in coaching especially in the latter stages of development.
  • Physical conditioning, usually more appropriate towards the middle-latter stages of puberty.
  • Mental conditioning, not as intrusive as this sounds, this is purely learning how to stay focused, motivated and having a good healthy mental state. This is usually achieved using a good coaching and playing environments.


Now this is where I feel the problems will start arising. The people usually involved at this level and age of football is usually ‘Football Dad’, a parent who has minimal teaching skills, a wealth of past, outdated football knowledge, and usually tends to replicate the style of teaching he had as a child (loud, aggressive, intimidating and egotistic). This parent, all be it many congratulations for providing the children an opportunity to play, will try to encourage a style of football at a level that he understands, and in all due respect that level being quite low. So, dilemma number 1 being poor coaching. Number 2 dilemma comes when you start adding more players to equation, that’s more individual skills that need attention and then more complex coaching needs to be administered to an already stretched imagination of the coach, based upon the 3 learning stages above, you can see how the fall away begins, items 1 and 2 is what puts Holland, Germany etc on the map. Number 3, having a coach as described above takes away the 1 thing that nearly all children have over an adult, imagination and creativity. A child will always produce imaginative and innovative creations, pictures, dances, walking styles etc. In football it is very much the same, they have no level or boundary of what is and isn’t capable, which is amazing because this is the same thinking that Alexander Graham Bell and Isambard Kingdom Brunel used hundreds of years ago. It is the same thinking that gives the ballsy audacity used when you watch Neymar, Messi and both Ronaldos. It is this that puts South America on the map.


So as you can see we hit the biggest issue of them all, we have no niche footballing environment proactive enough to compete with the top 5 nations. We have no real construct to evenly produce players across the country and it is this problem that we see in many English players today: Intimidated, low confidence players who have no imagination and minimal creativity.

Alex Oxlaide-Chamerlaine showed some of these positive attributes in the England v France match, only briefly but based upon his age and 1st international competition match, but it was there and its encouraging. Theo Walcott had it until it that raw instinct was coached out of him. Jack Wilshere is a prospect for this, however poor physiotherapy and rehabilitation has held him back from growing at this tournament (physio and rehab is another topic to be discussed). All ironically Arsenal players! All ironically have not won in 7 years, not that statement has much point to this argument, but surely players will only become better players when playing in winning sides? (topic for another day maybe with Adrian Durham).


So here is what I think should happen in the short term as a ‘quick-fix’ until a thorough bread, in depth and intelligent coaching system is in place in England. Up until the age of 11 (or 10), children should be encouraged to play in a ‘Goals Soccer Centre’ environment where they do not have to worry about set plays, throw ins etc, and purely concentrate on the principles of running around, ball at feet constantly in play. Have a 4 team round robin system, 2 suitably qualified coaches teaching fundamentals of play, and slowly build up the amount of players etc until they are ready to enter competitive football. To make it fair and encourage that learning environment, keep it amongst schools and classes and have the schools directly involved. No leagues, No cups, No competition, just fun football learning. This way it can regulated by County FA’s and officials, keeps players out of mentally exhausting environments, keeps schools involved in activity and learning which ensures a steady even learning until that time arrives to set them into ability groups etc.


I will elaborate other areas of the game which I feel needs improvement, especially in coaching development, ‘Coaching Badges’ and all these pointless drills I see forever published.


Please share your thoughts.


This is for the benefit of England and English Football


Coach England.


Welcome to my Blog. My name is an alias purely so I can continue coaching and progressing in the world of football without any repute or discrimination. My name is Coach England, the name has reason which are 2 fold:

  1. I am a coach with my own personal philosophy which will differ from the conventional and also cause friction with the current ‘Gold Standard’. My philosophy comes from years of personal study, through the academics at University, through playing for a number of years and completing ‘Coaching Badges’ (my dislike for these will become apparent). A coach is someone who provides information that is current, proven and constructive to enable a good learning process which will allow improvement. It is done using instructions to a team or individual to enable them to better themselves and perform and compete at a higher level, this is what I am. I am not the stereotypical ex-pro who inflicts previous understanding, information which is now scientifically obsolete and methods and tactics which are now outdated, creating a style of football and a type of football that nearly every other nation has progressed from (Future blogs will provide detail of this). Coach
  2. England: My country of birth, residence and the place closest to my heart. England for me is the epitome of who I am, my values and my passion for the game. A nation built on team-work, hard work and unity as one. Some may see this as slightly right wing (very few I hope), however this is not the case, this is the truth. During the next 10 days as we play in the Euro Championships we as a nation Unite to observe the very best players and our very best team in which we have created. Sadly, we rarely live up to expectation and unlike other forms of what is English, if it does not work, change it until it is does! However in football, we never seem to evolve, we never seek to change why we can not produce the class and the style of football every single English person wants. England

Coach England – Using the most current information, scientific knowledge and constructive forward thinking, to implement a style of football to provide us the success as a nation we all desire.

Over the coming months I will publish and talk about issues which I feel effect Football in this country. the majority of my comments will be based around more pro-active and more productive thinking based upon the current concepts in sport, largely aimed at Youth Football, Academies and most importantly Coach Education and ‘Coaching Badges’.

I will avoid being too negative, and for every comment I make I will try to make full and relevant explanations. If you wish to discuss anything with me or if you feel there is a direct personal insult, please feel free to email me or discuss this openly on the blog.

My first blog discussion will be coming in the next few weeks and I would like as much feedback on this topic. I would like this to get trending purely so we as a nation can discuss these issues or in fact put me back in my box (the latter will take a lot of convincing). There is no personal gain for me (hence the alias). If we can start to iron out issues in development, then maybe we will see more success.

Many thanks for your time and would appreciate any feedback or topics you wish to discuss.

Coach England