Communicating with Younger Players

By Adam Stretton, Head of Mini Soccer, April 2018

Probably the most important aspect of coaching is getting your coaching messages across and understood. This is even more pertinent, and difficult, for our younger age groups. So the focus here is really mini-soccer but hopefully some things older age groups can take note of too.


Kids are often in their own world during matches and in training - typically a coach shouting at them will make them think something is wrong and can even detract more from what you want. Therefore communication beforehand is key and knowing your players and how they are best communicated with is fundamental.

Pause For Thought

Sometimes your natural reaction might be the wrong way of communicating the message (especially in a match situation). Think before you speak, what language and phrases to use. It is very easy to fall into the trap of adult football jargon. Remember your audience - will they understand what you’re going to say?


I believe in simple messaging to get points across - making sure you plan your training to tell your players what things mean to them, make sure they understand and validate their understanding during your sessions plans. One example that I use is the word Protect - narrow your team position when out of possession / tracking back / goalside etc. There are a lot of things it means, so to make communication better, keep it simple.


Same info, all the time...

The more a coach can repeat the simple messages and phrases the more the players will grasp them. Don’t expect them to get it right first time and over the course of a few weeks the same message will bed in.


This has to happen, as negativity doesn’t normally create success...

Younger kids need that backing from you, praising and rewarding (player of the week, trainer of the week, a quick chat with each player after a game). Make sure we aren’t praising too many bad habits though (like clearing the ball when there wasn’t a need to and a simple pass was be careful, as I’ve witnessed this and the players will think this is the right thing to do when actually you want them to develop beyond such an approach).

Really think what you want from your players and work out how to communicate. It sounds easy, it isn’t.