Faulty Breaks!

By John Cartwright

Why does so much of our football resemble driving a car downhill at speed with no brakes? Uncontrolled speed has become a major part of our game which, allied to a lack of playing skills, has brought chaos rather than class to football here. From the Referee’s first whistle to the last, we play the thoughtful and skilful game of football as if it were a contest of ‘fitness first’ and ‘full steam ahead’. With little time for players to think, look or make correct decisions, the poor old football often resembles a bullet ricocheting from one scrimmage to another.


Continue reading

Football’s Parents

By John Cartwright

“John!” the loud cry would come from either my mother or father; it’s time for bed and school’s tomorrow. Thousands of hours were taken up in the street, school playground and wartime debris, for these places were the learning grounds of the footballers of the past. These ‘mini Wembley’s’ provided competitive, small-sided games of football with realistic football decision-making — a football ‘apprenticeship’— that taught the game without the pressure or intrusion of parents, or later, would-be coaches. The loss of this informal but positive way of learning has meant an enormous change from the ‘natural’ development of young players to a more ‘pressured’ format. The ‘structured’ take-over of development has been unable to recreate a satisfactory coaching methodology that can recover the loss of practice time, nor the practical realism to learning suitable for all ages. Equally destructive has been the ever growing emphasis on winning and not learning — now inadequate practice is followed by a win-win culture that has resulted in the disastrous acceptance of mediocrity being accepted as greatness!


Continue reading

The Skills Gap

By John Cartwright

The British Government, have increased Apprenticeship schemes to offset the serious skills shortage we are experiencing in the country’s manufacturing industries.

In years gone by apprenticeships were common-place throughout all types of work; they provided a ‘hands-on’ approach to skill learning and allowed young apprentices an opportunity to learn a trade from the ‘ground upwards’. The apprenticeship period became less favoured as more ‘up-market’ teaching and learning methods took its place. Probably, the lack of a prolonged period of ‘on-the-job’ experience is at the root of the problem. Perhaps our education system, from junior through to upper senior levels, does not provide the type of learning programs for students that encourages individualism and skills.


Continue reading

Statistics – Wrong Priorities!

Bu John Cartwright

Since the ‘explosion’ of Possession Football onto the game – so brilliantly displayed by Barcelona FC over recent years but who found that they needed to include more penetrative passing and on/off the ball movement to their ‘Ticki-Tacki’ playing style – statistics relating solely to ball possession has become an over-obsessive feature in our game. Fascination with stats figures has become such a dominant aspect in the game that players are bought on their stats figures. These calculations display the physical and technical qualities of players but are less effective in providing a level of game understanding. It is game understanding that takes precedence over decision-making in the game – what is to be attempted and how it is accomplished must be ‘recognized’ by players first before appropriate action takes place.

Italy England Soccer Continue reading

Wasted Years!

For over 50 years I have attempted to bring attention on the lack of playing qualities of Central Defensive players. From the days of poor playing surfaces to the pristine pitches of today the playing standards displayed by central defensive players has been little more than abysmal.

It seems that these positions only relate to defensive requirements and anything beyond this is of limited importance. The main ‘weapons in the armoury’ of central back players seems to be headed and kicked clearances —– usually straight back to the opposition. I am not suggesting that domination in the air or clearing dangerous situations isn’t important, but there are so many times when more playing qualities are possible and not produced.


Continue reading

Immediate Skills

By John Cartwright

When watching TRULY great players in any sport have you wondered how they seem to be able to recognize, assess and quickly respond successfully with the correct decision in difficult situations ? This immediacy of judgement is neither luck nor a divine gift, it has been acquired from learning their sport in a practical, realistic way.

The development of TECHNIQUE is important in sport but it should be introduced and developed in such a way from childhood onwards to include realistic practical situations to develop SKILLS. In football, subtle use of space(area sizes) and player numbers (suitable overloading for age and ability) in practice provides a time/space factor. A transformation from unrealistic, non-interference Technical (drill) practises into controlled realistic, interference (skill) playing situations is, in my opinion, how the ingredients of playing greatness are acquired.


Continue reading


By John Cartwright

Our Coaching and Development Programs, past and present, have set learning targets far too low throughout the development years. Consequently, by the age of 16+ our young players are only capable of producing mediocre standards –excellence and ‘greatness’ are unattainable.

The ‘Golden Years of Game Learning’, have not been a time in which our young players have received a sound football education and on reaching senior levels of the game they are forced to rely largely on physical qualities to ‘camouflage’ their serious lack of skill and game understanding.


Continue reading