Linkage in Association Football by John Cartwright


  Whenever people discuss our game the single most mentioned criticism of it is our inability to retain ball possession.   Throughout all playing levels we see the ball given away with disturbing regularity. Keeping the ball seems an aspect of the game we are prepared to ignore in the fast and furious  game-style preferred here. Ball possession is a fundamental quality in the playing of attractive and effective football. The timidity of coaches and players  to satisfy the impatient football crudity demanded by fans, has created an ugly playing style allied to a safety-first attitude to our game. The result has been a game-style reflecting the military attrition of WW1 trench warfare.  The casualties in our football ‘war’ have been,  the ‘beautiful game’,  and the millions of youngsters who have floundered in the ‘mud’ of football mediocrity. 

Barcelona are the current masters of keeping the ball.



Keeping the ball must become a priority requirement if our game is to establish itself at the highest level of world football. Both individuals and   teams’ in which they play must be taught the importance of ball retention; how to achieve it, and how to exploit it successfully. 

 What are the important issues involved in successful ball retention ? 

 1. Quality passing of the ball. – a:  accuracy:  b: passing distance:  c: appropriate passing ball-speed. 

2. Movement to support play – a: to receive the ball;  b: to support the receiver. 

3. Decisions by the receiver – a: to keep the ball or to pass it early. 

All of these playing aspects must be consistently applied for the ball to be   retained and team movement to develop in a positive fashion. 

Let’s go through the list; — 

  1. Quality passing of the ball.                                                                                                           

In games played here in the UK, passing is accepted as an important skill but is rarely performed with skilful regard. More often than not, a pass, be it long or short, is ‘hit’ towards a player or into a space with scant regard for either its suitability for the situation or ease of receipt; as long as the general direction of a pass is ok it will suffice, seems to be an ever-pervading attitude at all levels. 

The distance between passer and receiver in our game is often far too long.  Forward passes over 20 metres are usually readable and able to be intercepted by opposing defenders. Our back and mid-field players resort to using long, forward passes with boring regularity with neither disguise nor subtlety attached to them. Long ball ‘artillery’ is ‘hurled’ forward into ‘fight’ situations requiring brawn not brains on the part of the receiver.  To eliminate criticism of poor possession in our game, passing the ball backwards or sideways has become a regular and over-used part of our game. Passing ‘the buck’ around these ‘simplistic angles’ has become an obsession of the mediocre players littering our game. The artful and damaging forward pass is rarely played with the care and imagination necessary to produce any damage to opposing teams and usually ends with possession being given away. The passing of the football must be recognized as a caring and cultured skill that assimilates required amounts of softness or strength dependent on the situation at the time. Ball speeds are an essential part of passing quality; in conjunction with accuracy and passing distance, they form the foundation of good ball possession. 

Passing accuracy, is not just ‘hitting the target’ as so often happens within our domestic game, it is about correct placement of the ball to satisfy the situation at hand. In Golf, a player uses various clubs to direct the ball from Tee to Cup; the golf ball must be played with a suitable strength and length to place it in position for the next shot to be played without difficulty. The passing of the football around the field must be seen in a similar way by our players.  Good passing is therefore, a combination of three subtle requirements:  suitability for the situation; judged placement of the ball; and calculated passing speed. 

    2. Movement to support play. 

As the game progresses through various playing levels, time and space in which to perform is reduced. At the highest echelons of the game, tight marking reduces decision-making time to a minimum. But before players reach senior standards they must, from their earliest years, be gradually taught to overcome time and space restrictions. ‘Earning space’ is something every player must understand and be prepared to use in games. To receive the best of passes whilst under severe pressure from an opponent must make the loss of the ball only a rare occurrence and not a regularity during attacking play. An important initial ingredient towards good decision-making in general and improving ball possession in particular, is being able to see as much of the surrounding playing area as possible.  Players adopting a ‘half-turned’ positional shape is vital and 

allows decisions to be made by ‘knowing not guessing’ To assist in retaining ball possession  a receiving player must ‘earn’ the space in which to receive the ball. This can be done by a receiving player first making a ‘dummy run’ to take the opponent 2 or 3 metres away from a space in which he wants to receive the ball. In this way, ‘Dummy runs’ can be used to achieve space to receive the ball either to feet, or in  behind an opponent. 

Usually in life, ‘it’s the simple things that make the difficult things happen.’  One of the disappearing arts of the game is, TALKING !   In the above examples of passing and receiving both the passer and receiver can assist each other by shouting simple information. When wanting the ball to his feet a receiving player should call ‘FEET’ to the passer of the ball. Should the receiving player control the ball in sufficient space, the passer or any colleague in close proximity to the receiver can call out to him, ‘HOLD’ or ‘TURN’. Similarly, should the receiving player check back into the space behind his marker, he can shout to the player on the ball, ‘SPACE’ for the ball to be delivered as and where required. 

It is said that, ‘timing is everything in life.’ It certainly is in the game of football. Poor timing, involving on and off the ball situations in football, can mean winning or losing – making the grade or failure. Support off the ball is the second important aspect in good team movement and ball possession. 

In all areas of the field, players must be prepared, at all times, to support colleagues in possession of the ball. Unfortunately, this is not the case in so much of the game in these islands. A particularly weak area is the limited  support offered by back players, both to other players at the back and those in more advanced positions. The least supportive of our back players tends to be those playing in central defensive positions. In many cases these players show little interest in supporting play and make no attempt to create positions off the ball to assist in ball possession. When either wide, back players or mid-field players are on the ball, supporting movement provided by central defenders, tends to be too deep or non-existant. This tendency towards a safety-first attitude provokes more reliance on long, forward passes from the back which lessens good ball retention opportunities. Our back players must be prepared to step forward and support attacking play much closer, much quicker and more often in games. 

Liverpool of the 80`s always displayed great support play.

But it’s not just at the back where we have trouble supporting attacking play. In mid-field and at the front, linkage is often too slow and too stretched to cause problems for opposing teams. A ‘wait and see’ attitude exists amongst many of our players. Instead of finding early support positions, players hold back and fail to exploit opportunities that are often available. In most instances the blame for slow support can be laid directly on the players inability to read play quickly enough, however, distances to support within many of the tactical systems we adhere so passionately to here are much too stretched between groups and need super-human effort to fill. Playing systems need to be re-examined and new tactical ideas introduced into our game to create quicker, effective linkage between players in all areas of the field. 

.      3.Decisions by the receiver

‘Playing in the future’ is not space science, It’s about recognizing situations early. By ‘reading’ the game quickly, talented players are able to exploit advantages they see before the opposition can recover. When about to receive the ball, a player should be fully aware of the situation close around him as well as further 

 afield. Poor players make decisions on receipt of the ball —- it’s too late. The constant stream of information, or ‘pictures’ of play, that a player receives throughout a game, stimulates the decisions and subsequent actions taken by him or her. Early recognition of situations allows for decision-making to occur before space and time can be denied to the player by the opposition;  — ‘ the earlier the decision, the quicker the reaction, the better the player, the more successful the team.’ 

Positive ball possession is not easy to achieve, but is made to seem far more difficult to produce when watching games in this country! From day one in the production of our young players, the importance of good  ball possession, both  the individual ability as well as team combination play, must be important factors in the coaching programmes our youngsters are involved in. The ‘crash-bang-wallop’ football that permeates through all levels of the game needs brave thinking to eradicate it. Our National Association, supposedly the teacher of the game here, has failed to supply satisfactory coach education programmes to the game.   As the years have rolled by, mediocrity not magnificence is the result of their visionless approach to coaching and development. 

FA "decision makers" have got too much wrong.

It’s time for change. English FA coaching and development methods have not produced high standards in individualism, nor a game-style that provides a platform for quality team performances. Their ‘Decision Makers’ have simply made too many incorrect decisions over many decades resulting in low playing standards not excellence. Until a clear vision of the future playing content of our game is defined and our coaches  learn how to teach the players under their control how to play it, English football will continue to provide its, ‘give-the ball-away – fight to get it back’ version of ‘the beautiful game,’

17 thoughts on “Linkage in Association Football by John Cartwright

  1. About time the FA took Johns thoughts on board and give him credit for it – went on a Premier Skills course a few years ago and learnt more on this then FA courses. Premier Skills has the foresight however the people running the FA and tfootball development dont!

  2. What a great post!. Our not so beautiful game is a joke, football stinks from grass roots through to elite level of mediocrity. The people at Premier Skills know who is to blame all we need now is someone to admit that its not so great to get this country back to producing skillful, well rounded footballers not atheletes, who could not trap a bag of cement!

  3. An interesting post and thought provoking blog overall.

    However, I think it is unfair to criticise the coach development of the past without acknowledging the more recent strides the FA have taken to redress the balance especially with the new FA Youth Awards.
    Some while in the making, perhaps and certainly we are playing catch up. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
    The new courses are excellent and the philosophy is just as significant as the content.

    And to address Steve’s assertion above that football stinks from grass roots up – it is simply not fairly reflective – there are some striking coaches out there, especially at GrassRoots level, doing their level best to develop rounded, brave (i.e. unafraid to try) and skillful players

  4. The coaches that are are trying to to develop rounded, brave and skilful players have not got the tools to deliver coaching sessions that can bring these atributes out in players. They are still armed with FA Coach Education material which does not in anyway help to develop and nurture these attributes. Yes the new courses are better, but are by no means adequate.

    The win at all costs mentality of GrassRoots level Football which is instilled in players by 80% of managers is harming our game, this mentality does not provide a learning environment where our players can flourish, the negatives far outweigh the positives. I was wrong to suggests GrassRoots football stinks as the people that put there time into coaching should only be commended but the smell is far from rosy.

    I look forward to your response

  5. Steve, I have been fortunate enough to have coached an U10 boys team in recreational level football this year where the division in which we play has been blessed with coaches who value development over winning and are by no means WAAC coaches. The parents have been a credit and the nearest I can say to crticism is one mother who celebrated her son’s goals a little more exuberantly than I would have liked.

    Certainly there are horror stories out there,still, but the tide is turning I feel.

    You state the new courses are better but not adequate?

    I have a friend who is a qualified teacher, an A licence coach and an FA tutor. He tells me that in his opinion the content of the FA Youth Award modules is the best stuff the FA has produced.
    I have attended the Introductory Module as well as the available Modules 1 and 2 myself – I find them excellent. I am also pleased that the philosophy being promoted is that which is being discussed on here.
    I read and research other coaching approaches as well and certainly Dutch, German and Spanish coaching material I have read and am reading, seem to be in accordance with what the FA Youth Awards are promoting.

    I would be interested to hear what you would provide that has better content than the recent courses.

    I am sure we are of the same views – develop the player, encourage brave (i.e. unafraid), skillful play and, as they get older, the performances will mean that results will look after themselves.
    I think the problem lies not with the courses or their content but with the attitudes and approaches of ‘old school’ managers/coaches.

    Unfortunately, there are still people who see U11 11 a-side football (don’t get me started on that!) as ‘proper’ football; ‘it’s competitive’ and so parents as well as some coaches, but not all by a long chalk, see the result as important. Consequently, there is pressure to leave the ‘weaker’ players out of teams which only inhibits their development further.

    We all need to contribute our bit towards changing outdated attitudes – but those attitudes are often from those people who haven’t or can’t undertake development, courses and education to see another way – and there are a number of reasons for that, not purely ignorance.

  6. a bit confusing having 2 Steves but I am responding to the last post.

    I have serious doubts that the FA have finally got it right with regard to coach education. let me first of all state that I have spent a lot of my hard earned cash and my time ( ask my wife and kids ) on getting qualified to Level 3 and coaching for the last 12 years so I tend to get a bit irate when the FA come along with another £400 pound course that is going to ( finally) be the one I need so perhaps Steve you could comment on some of the detail. What is it that the new courses do differently and better than the old courses? I can see that you value player developement and yes there are good people out there in Grass roots but there is not a clear vision from the FA on how the game should be played. I remember saying to John about five years ago that you could never knock Charles Hughes for not having a vision because he had a very clear vision for English football….hit the front early and play the percentages. Now that does not mean that Hughes’ manuals were all rubbish but in the “Winning Formula” he states that “possesion football” which he identified with Holland,Brazil,Argentina etc is NOT the way England should be going. Nowadays you wont find much official support for that line but you also wont find a frank admission from the governing body that they have got things wrong. Charles Hughes had a vision but now there is just a sort of mish mash of ideas.

    Before the European Championships in 2008 I attended a seminar at the LFA led by Dick Bate called Football in 2020; the underlying premise was that English Football is heading towards more speed; more power; more athleticism etc and that just as in Tennis and Basketball….if you aint 6* 2in you are in trouble. At that meeting I made some angry objections to which Dick Bate sort of conceeded and then backtracked to say that , well yes there is still room for a Paul Scholes type player. The point is that he led a discussion that took as its starting point a resigned attitude to the inevitability of the dissapearance of the play maker in English football. Now thankfully Spain turned up at Euro 2008 and blew all that out of the water with playmakers who are 5″ 8; then Barca humiliated Man U in last years final and would you believe it hey ho….Dick Bate was talking about Spain the last time he was at the LFA…..he was also talking about the need to create safe zones in game practices, an idea John C was developing years ago. The trouble with the FA is that it is full of politico’s and spin merchants …….I just wouldn’t spend my money on yet another FA course because I feel like I am being milked. However I am genuinly interested in the course content and how you think it is addressing the issues that this forum is raising

    PS Also ….have you noticed that Insight magazine does not have a forum? Now am I just being cynical or do certain people just not want to be called out?

  7. Hi Fletch,
    Yes I was a bit confused too – I had to make sure I wasn’t replying to my own post ! Seriously though this is a fair point.

    Here’s a link to the website of the club at which I currently coach. There are two documents on there with a set of notes I took and then wrote up after attending the FA Youth Awards, Modules 1 and 2.

    Just to re-iterate my mates comments that I alluded to before – I have been coaching for 20 years and I think the content is execellent too. Anyway, have a look and see what you think here:

    You make a fair point about whether the FA have finally got it right – I know that a lot of people, me included, spend a lot of money and family holiday time attending courses in order to become a better coach and I understand reluctance to attend more before you know if you’re going to get value for money. But, if you’re intrigued by my notes and what I describe maybe try attending the Age Appropriate Introductory module which is a one day course and is sometimes spread over two weekend mornings or two evenings depending on where they are delivered. I expect your county FA will have a listing.
    That gives you a taster of what’s included and you could pursue it from there.

    From my perspective, I believe it addresses at least some of the points on this forum by placing the player at the centre of the learning (coaching) experience. So rather than the coach being the fount of knowledge, it is for the coach to best facilitate how the player learns, how best to provide a game like experience whilst still allowing the player to improve their technical and decision making skills.

    I could bang on here about Charles Hughes as well – but for the moment, I will leave my view as being that he was grossly misrepresented and that my view is that the fault lay not with Charles Hughes, but with certain professional managers who took his general approach and simplified to bish-bash fightball (in my opinion). Another day I will correspond with you and elaborate as to why I believe this but I don’t want to sidetrack too much right now.

    So far as a change in viewpoint goes, (you mention Dick Bate above – I don’t know him personally but am aware of his reputation), I feel that people do change their viewpoint based on a number of things – increasing knowledge, different experiences and even changing fashions influence even experienced people in a field (when my Mum and Dad went to school, Physics text books stated categorically that you couldn’t split the atom!). Certainly my views of coaching, psychology etc have changed over the last 20 years

    So I don’t necessarily think that a change of view is necessarily cynically linked to a change in spin by the FA .

    Do the FA get it right all the time or is it ‘right’ now? Almost certainly not – no big organisation gets it right all the time but my view has always been that the FA tries to do the right thing, even if sometimes an approach may be flawed.

    Continuing on the view of whether something is ‘right’ or not and in this context, I guess we mean coaching and the approach to it. My considered view is that there is no “One Right Way” and I write a (very) occasional blog, a couple of posts on which are “So Which Way IS the Right Way” and the latest one “The Final Piece of The Jigsaw”

    Have a scan here ( and see what you think – again, I’ll be happy to continue this interesting thread further (not sure if we’re supposed to exchange e-mail addresses on here) but you can either comment on the blog or maybe catch me on the Footy4Kids website forums where you can find me as coach03 – PM me and I’ll send some stuff I wrote a while ago about Charles Hughes (I’m aware that my views are those of a very small minority !!)

    Oh and finally, I think the FA do have a forum on the FACALive connection – I’ll try and find the link and poste it here, but you have to be a member to get access I think. It’s not widely used, in my experience, though.

    Look forward to your thoughts
    Steve (!)

    • Am loving this debate. To the other Steve, I think our biggest objection to the FA is there reluctance to look outside of their comfort zone and approach or even listen to John Cartwright and or Roger Wilkinson. The methodology behind their coaching styles and vision for English Football is I believe what most footbal people want to see and hear.

      Coach Education has become a massive money spinner for every County FA, but the foundation courses especially do not teach a new coach how to coach! Skill levels are currently at the lowest they have ever been, players are uncomfortable with the ball, afraid to be positive and unwilling to keep the ball by going backwards. The reason for this been that a lot of coaches have no faith in their players or their abilities, because the sessions they deliver to them are not teaching them to be good on the ball or make their own decisions,

      I recently watched a shooting session delivered by a UEFA A licence coach and one child waited 4 and a half minutes to touch the ball. Good players are taught in an environment where they have to make their own decisions on time and space, whilst working in heavy traffic.

      Just because we do not agree does not mean either of us are wrong as football is and always will be a game of opinions, I am going to spend some time looking over the new FA courses and you could do a lot worse than contact one of the Premier Skills coaching team to look into their coaching certification.

      I would love to read your stuff on Charles Hughes so if you would email it to me at I would be very grateful.

      Look forward to hearing from you soon

      • Hi Steve,
        I’ll e-mail you the Charles Hughes stuff when I get home. It’s just my observations on what I know (or think I know) about his philosophy and approach – it was something I knocked up in a response to a post on a message board (at WorldClassCoaching I think it was).

        So far as the foundation courses the FA provide, you may well be right about the HOW to coach and especially to young players / children. Certainly the FA Youth Awards address that and my information is that the L1 and L2 are being re-designed to incorporate methodologies and philosophies of the Youth Awards.

        Anyway, I’m currently part the way through the process to get myself certified as an FA Tutor so no doubt I’ll find out soon enough!
        To pick up on the point about coaches not having faith in players abilities – I thinks osme of that comes from people who see WINNING a kids game of football as importnat for the coach and the parents rather than seeing it from the players point of view.

        I was new to a club this year and had a meeting with the parents where I set out my philosophy, explained that practice would involve lots of touches and small sided games (which wouldn’t always look like ‘the game’) and hopefully we could challenge players to be a better player at the end of the season than they were at the start. Certainly I don’t do “Lines, Laps or Lectures” so I know where you’re coming from on that.

        So far as philosophy goes, I think we sound as though we agree, I think the view of the FA Courses is what’s different and, as you say, it’s probably ‘old style’ vs ‘new style’.

        I have had a look at Premier Skills course content they advertise on their site and have started to make enquiries to see if I know anyone who may have been on one or two – certainly I am happy to learn something different / new from anyone. The only draw back with all of these things, is the cost and time availability to attend – I’ll drop you a line in a couple of hours.

        Happy to continue the discussion – I went to Holland a couple of years ago to see pro and semi-pro / community based teams and how they deal with youth development and club organisation – you can read the report my mate and I did here:
        it was organised by Paul Cooper who is behind the GUBOG campaign and was enlightening as well as interesting.

  8. Hi guys. Very interested to read what you guys have written but would like to respond to something that i have heard a million times over the last 25 years and that is Football is a game of opinion. I have a problem with it simply for the fact that opinions should be valid and judged on the relavent experience that each individual has. The problem stems right from the top of our game at the FA where educators and teachers make the rules.Too many people in our game have massively important jobs but have no relevent experience. I have played under John Cartwright and can honestly say that out of the 13 different managers that i played for that he was the gaffer i learnt the most from. His attention to detail in each position was unreal and seven of us from our youth team signed pro which even in those days was unheard of. The trouble is that like John there are some fantastic coaches out there but not in any very important positions. Jobs for mates has always been prevelent in football and people who buck the trend are seen as a threat. Coaches who advacate player development being more important than winning football matches will hopefully be the majority and not the minority in the future. The FA need to listen a little bit more..

  9. The World Cup performances of our England team should not create the surprise, dismay and disgust that seems to have followed their early exit from the tournament. We play the game throughout each seson with speed, strength and determination– not skill and understanding. Why should we believe that our players can turn on the skills and tactical adaptations required for games at this level when they fail to do so week after week in domestic games? —-4-4-2 is enbedded into the fabric of our game !! To be able to link together as a team requires individual skills first before any quality team- play can develop. Where are our talented individuals with the character to perform with style and success ———- nowhere to be seen now——- or in the immediate future. Frightening isn’t it !!!

  10. It’s an interesting point.
    Q. Where do the elite levels of the game get their players from?
    A. The grassroots game.

    So, if ‘little Johnny’ is excluded (benched more often), either directly or indirectly, because he is ‘too greedy’ (i.e. he can dribble and turn!) or ‘ not strong enough’, at the REAL grassroots of the game, the chances are that they drop out before they have the chance to be picked up by the elite levels.
    Consequently, the top level picks up somewhat ‘lesser’ players (relatively) and has to work with relatively limited skills and the ‘big, quick, strong kids’ as that’s all they have.

    There are exceptions for sure (Joe Cole) but otherwise we have had a diet of functional players over the years. We just don’t get the Bests, Worthingtons and Curries that we used to get .

    This happens because some parents and coaches see winning U11 games of 11 a side important (“because all the other teams in our league do it”) and can’t see 12 months, 5 years or 10 years ahead.

    However, I defintely denote a change across coaching – at least on the message boards I frequent.

    Greater inclusion and a long term view seem to be becoming more prevalent and if the momentum builds, hopefully we will be in the majority soon – or at least loud enough not to be ignored. And perhaps we will get a consistent crop of excellent, late developing, players at the top level as a result.

  11. I’m sticking my oar in after England’s laughingly “promising” performance in the 2012 Euros. How far behind Spain are we? A million miles at least. The game is changing all around us (even the likes of Swansea and Brighton are trying to play a passing game) but the dear old English FA will always have their Corporal Jones approach to the game (“They don’t like it whacked upfield!”). At least we had more possession than Greece, a giant leap forward! We’ve got to pass it or drift further back to the dinosaurs.

    • Hi Peter, I must take issue with you that it is the FA that is perpetuating the “whack upfield”. It is not. Have a look at The Future Game book, attend the FA Youth Award courses (especially) and you will see and hear messages about individual skill, letting children experiment and learn to play and understand the game.

      Emphasis even on the Level 1 is about young player development, making practices game-like and introducing different methods of coaching .

      The people who perpetuate the approach are the uninformed / un-enlightened coaches and managers at grassroots who don’t know another way to teach the game.

      At the bottom end of the senior game (semi-pro) I also see wars of attrition where power, “desire” and an overly combative style aremistaken for the art that should be football – again, because they don’t know another way.

      Times are changing as are approaches but it won’t happen overnight. Go along to a Premier Skills course, if you haven’t been on one, and also see an approach that is built around individual skill as the fundamental platform for all else that follows.

      The FA has changed its approach, but turning around the attitudes of the whole country (it seems) will take at least half a generation.

      • Some fair points but in others simplistic. Really need to have a widespread conference /discussion on on the subject because if you think a new approach is developing you need to think again. Will Stoke City change? Will, say, Sheffield United? Will Sky Sports? Of course they won’t. It’s a culture thing – a bit like expecting a working class star at Wimbledon (tennis). They will stick to the Premier League being the best in the world, blah blah bloody blah. I have spent the whole of the last two seasons watching League One (Division Three!!!!) games and the only team to pass it has been Brighton, who thankfully have left the division behind. Also, over the last 25 years, I have knon a vast array of football “scouts” who couldn’t light a bonfire. What’s needed is a truly radical approach – not the tired old criticism of Sunday morning dads/managers, who don’t known any better.Charlton Ath are one of the best “community” clubs but a millions years away from truly engaging local boys’ clubs. All they want to do, like everyone else, is poach the best boys ahead of the Arsenals and Chelseas. What’s lacking is real intelligence. How can you possibly get it in a football environment? You can’t.

  12. As regards what you say about the likes of Stoke and Sheffield, I would tend to agree (though I think the Stoke City thing is about people jumping on a bit of a bandwagon – they’re not the most creative but neither are they totally reliant on route one play), but I think that makes the point. It’s the personal philosophy / approach of a couple of individuals and not that of the FA (which is of course made up of individuals, some of whom are excellent coaches of the game.

    I guess what you say about CAFC (and all the others) is correct as well. Of course it’s a business, so they are after what will make them successful in all the ways that will count – players, wins, crowds, money etc.

    In Holland, the local pro clubs engage with the grassroots clubs and send their coaches in a few times a season to coach the coaches. That way, the players they do pick up will have a better foundation.

    To be fair, I don’t think criticism of (some) Sunday morning dads and coaches is tired, I think it is key. That’s where all of the elite players start and where most of the grassroots players play their whole “career”. They have influence over the vast majority of players and that is where the most impact can be made.

    I accept what you say about the pro clubs,(I couldn’t speak for all of them – I am sure there wil be good and bad) but you would hope they would have a better idea;
    However, it depends what they are trying to produce and what their philosophy is. I am trying to work with the club at which I coach to influence coaches and parents that we need to develop players for the future not ‘just’ winners or now. I and a couple of the other coaches have worked on style of play, coaching philosophy, vision and mission in an effort to define the ‘DNA’ of the club. We hope this will set us apart and help towards a different way of coaching.

    However, they are all individuals and I accept that there may be challenges if someone doesn’t recognise or accept the approach we recommend .

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