The FAW strongly believes that all of our registered young players have the right to a positive football experience and as a coach you will play a crucial role in determining whether or not the right environment is provided for each player. By registering as a coach on our comet system and by reading and signing the FAW coach code of conduct, you are accepting your responsibility to act as a good role model at all times and are committing to proving all players with an environment in which they can thrive and develop, both as players and as people.
It is important that you do not underestimate your role as a coach in the process of inspiring, educating, and developing every child under your guidance and therefore we ask that you continuously reflect on your training sessions and time with your players to determine if the right envrionment is being provided.
As a coach you will likely have completed the FAW Leaders award (at a minimum) and this award covers a number of areas such as the organisation of football practices in a fun, safe environment with an emphasis on engaging with the young players of today. This section is to not repeat the information you have already been provided, but to remind you that when you are planning and delivering training sessions and games, child welfare must be paramount and enjoyment must be the main factor.
Creating a positive environment will significanty reduce the likelihood of your players experiencing poor practice or abuse within football and in return prevent safeguarding issues from arising. The experience you provide your players now will likely stay with them the rest of their lives so your aim should always be to provide them with the best possible environment.
Some of your players will have dreams to be the next Gareth Bale or Sophie Ingle and therefore a positive environment will allow them to thrive, develop and work towards their ambitions, for other players it will be simply about enjoyment and having fun with teammates. Regardless of the aims or reasons for your players participating, creating a positive environment will come with a significant amount of benefits, such as:
This is not an exhaustive list, just a few examples of how a positive environment can help your player develop within football and how it will enable them to become better players.
The FAW also strongly believe that players can also become better people by using the power of football. Players can develop skills that are transferable to education and work outside of football or skills that will help them throughout their lives. Below are some of the life skills that football can help develop:
This is not an exhaustive list, just a few examples of how a positive environment can help your players develop as people.
Ensure enjoyment is the focal point of the session
Making sure the sessions are fun is the most important factor for a child to develop as this will prevent a child from dropping out of the game and will encourage them to want to return to every session. Children are more likely to develop their footballing skills if they are having fun and playing with a smile on their face. This is crucial in mini football (age 5 -11), however it is important that enjoyment is a focus throughout junior football also. As a coach, look to reflect on sessions and be aware of the body language and feedback you receive from the children to determine if you are providing enjoyment in your sessions.
Create a positive learning environment
It is significantly important when coaching children that you provide a positive learning environment as the child will grow and develop from positive experiences. Praise a child when they have done something well and ensure that you do not criticise a child when they have made a mistake as this is a natural part of the learning process, instead provide guidance and constructive feedback to enable them to improve and develop. Constantly providing a child with negative feedback from the side-lines will be damaging to their confidence and will certainly not enable the child to develop or thrive. This negativity will prevent a child from developing to their full potential or even be the reason that a child drops out of the game. Ensure your players feel supported and valued, encourage them to try new things, ensure they have the freedom to make their own decisions and provide them with the necessary guidance to develop their skills. Always reflect on your sessions and assess whether you feel you bring the best out of your players and whether the approach you are taking in your sessions is the best approach.
Be a coach that is approachable as it is important that a child understands that it is okay to speak to you about something that is bothering them or if they have any questions, such as how to develop a certain skill. Being approachable will also be a determining factor in whether a child makes a disclosure to you or not. For example, if there are safeguarding concerns at home, it is important that the child trusts you and feels that they can open up to you and this will then enable you to take action. Take the time to reflect and determine if you are approachable for your players.
Provide equal opportunity
As a coach, it is important that you treat all players equally and give each player the same attention and same opportunity. In mini football, it is compulsory to provide players with equal playing time, however as the children move to junior football, whilst it’s no longer compulsory, its encouraged that all players are provided with playing time. It’s important to note that whilst it’s good to create a competitive environment, there should be no favouritism and all players should be treated fairly.
Do not implement a win at all costs ethos
As you move from mini football to junior football, starting to bring a more competitive approach to your sessions is encouraged as competition is an important part of football and it’s important to help develop certain characteristics in your players, such as confidence, leadership skills and a good work ethic. However, it’s important that this competition does not turn into a win at all costs ethos as this will create negative outcomes, such as putting too much pressure on a child, favouring your most skilful players, pushing the children too hard physically, criticising a child for a mistake etc. Competition can be encouraged in more positive ways such as competitive fun games, encouragement to not give up, encouraging players to want to get passed their teammates and score a goal. It’s important as a coach involved with children to reflect and ensure that you have not implemented a win at all costs ethos.
Follow best practise guidelines
The FAW have provided best practice guidelines for different scenarios that may occur, such as away trips, overnight stays, photography, dealing with difficult behaviour, coach to player ratios etc. As a coach its important you adhere to these best practice guidelines to protect both yourself as a coach and your players and to create the best environment possible.