Kids 2. First Give Them Fire

Kids. Coaching them. Anything Under 16s and up, the biggest mistake you can make is treating them like kids.

On the very first night, look them square in the eye and say, “Football is a man’s game. Your next step is seniors or reserves. Do you want me to treat you like kids, young men learning a man’s game?”

Watch the fire in their eyes.

“Young men,” they will say.

“Then here we go…” you’ll reply. Then start with something hard.

If you are coaching girls, just swap the gender.

Too many times, so many times, I have seen patronising coaches, or lazy coaches, treat their juniors like kids, give them kids drills. Be soft. So many of those kids never push on to be anywhere near as good as they could be. So, so many of them reach open aged level, play a few years in the reserves and give it away.

A junior coach is a teacher. You are teaching them habits that will last a lifetime. That will transcend football. About work, about integrity, self pride, about giving your all.

The biggest complement I ever, ever got in footy was when a mate asked an ex-junior, now a musician, what I was like as a coach. He replied, “He was always telling us no matter what we do in life, give it our all… And here I am.” He held up his guitar.

Train them hard. Do drills that make them think. That make them chose options, make decisions. Throw the cones away!!! The cones are for Under 12s. If you’re making them run, pair them up, make every sprint a race. Losers, push-ups. No insult. Work and reward. Let them feel like young men, not just in the running, but in the level of drills. You’ll be amazed at how many of them start taking pride in their fitness, in their training, in their work ethic. And, work and reward, they put in the yards, give them games nights. Take them bowling one night, to the pool, film a win of theirs without telling them then review it over a pizza night. If they’ve done the work.

Work does not mean it can’t be fun.



Part 1 of the series: Kids 1.

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  1. Simple things I learned as a junior.
    If you can’t pick up the ball keep it in front of you.
    Run ten metres forward after a kick.
    Stay with your man.
    Talk to your teammates.
    Don’t stop trying.
    It was the same when I played senior football.
    Matt, don’t stop trying…

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