Assessment – Coaching’s Invisible Ingredient

By Roger Wilkinson

Just as important as preparation, coaching style and session delivery is the coach’s ability to assess on different levels. Assessment is crucial to all parts of the coaching process and yet as a concept is rarely examined and discussed.

Assessment is a vital factor at the beginning of the coaching process. When coaches take over a team or group of players it is imperative that they accurately recognise the ability level and tactical understanding of the players, in order to set up a programme of work that is at the right level for that group. This assessment process will allow the coach to implement improvement and learning and minimise  time wasting.

Roger Wilkinson

What criteria do we assess our players with?………You may be asking.  Assessment should be relative to the game style and without a properly constructed game style no realistic assessment can take place. It is vital that the coach must have that playing philosophy, with all the detail of its components in place. Beginning the assessment process without having a game style in place is the equivalent of starting on a journey without knowing where your destination is!

The first priority in any session is to assess the skill level and tactical understanding of each player against the criteria of what is expected at that stage of development. This is vital in the initial session of any new coaching theme because the coach may have to instantly re-organise and change the session in order to enable the work to succeed and for real skill development and tactical understanding  to take place.

Great and experienced coaches perform this assessment during sessions as second nature but make no mistake this has come from years of experience and self-examination. Depending on the ability and aptitude of the players the coach may have to stay with a phase of learning for 2 or 3 sessions until the work is ‘bedded in’. The coaches assessment and judgement during these sessions will determine when the players are ready to move on to the next phase or theme.

The ultimate assessment tool is the game itself. If the coach has practiced the way they want to play effectively in their coaching sessions the quality of the work will show in the competitive arena of the game and the players will play the way they have practiced. The better coaches will not be “ranting and raving” on the side-line but will occasionally make reminder points to the players based on their understanding of the work done in training. If the players are not able to demonstrate the work in the game then that is an indication that they are not ready to move on.

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During the game a close examination of  the “greats” like Venables, Michels  and Mourinhio will often see them watching quietly, with a pen and paper, making reminder notes to use at half time, full time and for use in further sessions. They are really assessing the effectiveness of their own work.

Self-assessment by coaches should be ever present in everything they do regarding practice and game play to analyse the effectiveness of their work. During the session the coach should step back to see the whole picture and measure the individual player progress. Part of that measurement will be to also assess if the session delivery is at the right level and being taken in by the players.

The coach should also see each player as an individual project with unique requirements. What are their strengths? and what are their weaknesses? Are they quick learners? are they confident? are their critical skills sufficient for them to be tactically effective in the game? The coach should then use this assessment to prioritise the area he and the players need to work on and then coach it!

After each session the coach needs to honestly assess the effectiveness of the session.

Were the playing areas realistic?

Did the timing of each section within the practice maximise learning and success?

Were the key coaching points delivered in easy to learn sequence?

Did the players improve skilfully and tactically as individuals and as a team?

Do the players really understand what they are trying to do and can they operate independently of coach?

Is the group ready to move on or does the theme need to be worked on again?

The coach should also closely look at their own performance in order to get better and better.

Was I motivational?

Was my coaching position such that allowed me to observe every aspect of the session?

Did I cleverly give positive images with my language and demonstrations?

Did I connect with every player?

Did I coach in such a way that every player understood the work?

Was my post session de brief effective in cementing the theme of the session?

What changes would I make, if any, next time I deliver this theme?

Assessment is an important and vital component of coaching. By being aware of its value and the part it plays in the coaching and match day process, the coach can further develop assessment as part of their coaching methodology and further advance  their journey towards coaching excellence.

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36 thoughts on “Assessment – Coaching’s Invisible Ingredient

  1. You are a dedicated ‘Disciple’ of Premier Skills Coaching — The opportunity to assess progress is built into every session and onwards through each development level. The building blocks of success in coaching must be carefully installed to create a gradual but constant forward improvement in players’ ability and game understanding. Without having an assessment structure linked to coaching, progression is likely to be affected by impatience by the coach to forge ahead with work that has not been fully understood by his players.
    KNOW WHERE YOUR GOING AND MAKE CERTAIN YOU KNOW HOW TO GET THERE is my coaching doctrine.

  2. I have found that many coaches pride themselves in doing something different at every session, “I never repeat the same practice” they say.
    This, i have found, often results in ‘random coaching’, picking practices and exercises from coaching manuals at will, without reference to a proper coaching/development strategy. Coaching sessions must always be kept fresh and interesting, I agree, but it is the skill of the coach in making the work fresh and interesting until the technical detail has been absorbed by the players and they are reproducing it both in training and in matches. I feel that one of the strengths of the Premier Skills methodology is the clear transference into the game situation, leading from, initally, Group Practice, into Small Area Practice and then into Game Practice. As explained in Levels 1 and 2, when the work has been fully absorbed in Small Group Practice and Small Area Practice, then the Small Game Practice takes up the greater part of the seassion, with all players enjoying the game element in comparison to any other form of coaching work.

  3. Great article as always…….. without doubt one of the best coaching blogs on the web, thanks for your efforts guys!

    Roger I have been trying to get a hold of you for a while for a chat but the number I have doesn’t seem to work anymore.

    Would be great to catch up!

    Kev McGreskin 07896 410902

  4. It’s such a surprise that there has been so few who have replied to this important ‘blog’. Roger, is correct in stating the importance of assessment in coaching — each session must be a careful step towards an intended learning and playing target. A ‘ramshackle’ approach to development is NOT what is required if we are to produce talented players in bigger numbers.

  5. John Cartwright and Roger Wilkinson have often said on Premier Skills courses, that football is played with skill and not with technique.They say that skill is the action of technique with interference. So I have found that to decrease the size of the area, and therefore decrease the time and space available, is the way to progress the work, rather than come up with new practices all the time. It is always good to have a good selection of practices, but I think that you have to be careful not to stray into ‘random coaching’, which I have thought for a long time is very prevalent in the grass roots game, and perhaps in higher levels as well.

  6. Hi Steve. You are absolutely right. Too many practises are purely kaleidoscopic — colourful and constantly changing. Absorbtion of detail is overlooked as different playing aspects are thrust onto players with more egotistical emphasis on the coach than on correct learning for the players.

  7. Another fantastic article roger that really sets out once again good practice and reminds me of the quality, detail and level of thought I need to always have in my coaching on my journey of learning to be a coach. It reminds me again of what I have heard you say “coaching ain’t easy”
    Just finished my first full season coaching and managing an u12 team . I will be printing this article out and using it as my self assessment check list..

  8. The points which are raised and illustrated by Roger in this article are particularly pertinent with regard to the recently published statistics which I believe show that the average span of a coach’s (i.e. manager’s) timespan at a Premier League club, is little more than 1 year. Clearly, the time required to embed the ideas in the thorough and exhaustive manner as Roger illustates, require considerably longer than just one year.
    In my opinion, when a coach/manager is hired it should be for a minimum of 3 years. The first year is to introduce the ideas, the second year is to see those ideas regularly appearing in the team’s match play, and the third year is for some success to be obtained by the absorption and activation of those ideas.
    I accept that at top level, football is a results-driven business with billions of pounds at stake. However, those charged with the hiring and firing of coaches must recognise the time element required for the coach who they have put in place and if they cannot supply the 3 years working period required, then they should not be in the game, regardless of how much of their fortune they are prepared to put into a club.

  9. Hi tony99….
    The Johann Cruyff blog is really interesting and backs up all that John Cartwright has been saying for years through the Premier Skills coaching methodology. On the Cruyff blog, Todd Breane, one of Cruyff’s executives at his Institute, speaks of the need to “train the individual within a team context, rather than just train the team. 20 players = 20 solutions”. Clearly, these are the same sentiments and views expressed on this blog and on the Premier Skills courses.
    The Cruyff blog also questions the value of drills and the often expressed excuse of so many coaches that their hands are tied by the necessity of getting a result this Saturday, which prevents them from taking a longer term view. The Cruyff view is not to have too much sympathy with this line of excuses. It is also significant that Dutch coaches, both in academies and in the professional sections of the League clubs, are under constant scrutiny with regard to their coaching methods. This is a country that has for years produced some of the world’s best players during the last 50 years, but they are not allowed to rest on their laurels. Meanwhile, in England, we have the outgoing FA Chairman, expressing his delight at the quality of young players coming through the system and the quality of the coaching which is producing it.
    Incidentally, there is an interesting 30 minute profile of the late Dutch coach, Rinus Michels, currently being screened by Sky Sports at the moment. The film points out that Michels got many of his ideas about football from studying the physical layout of the Netherlands. Because it is a small but densely populated country, he related that to the necessity to find and make space on the football pitch. Consequently, he always built teams which knew how to play with depth and width and create the available space.

  10. England’s 0-1 defeat to Italy last night in the Under 21 Championship was hardly unexpected and again showed how our young player development lags behind that of the leading continental countries. Admittedly, England were without several players who have graduated to the senior team and could have had an influence on the result, such as Wilshire, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sterling. Verratti for the Italians in midfield may not have been quite so dominant had England been able to play those other players. Verratti has been playing regularly during the past season for Paris Saint Germain in the French League and Champions League. But even though England were not as strong as they could haver been then, nevertheless, Henderson, Clyne, Shelvey and Caulker have plenty of Premier League appearances under their belts. At least Stuart Pearce was honest when he described the England performance as “awful”.
    Many England players simply do not seem to make progress in their game development when you look at them as they graduate from youth team football into the senior game. They may become faster, fitter and stronger but does their game intelligence improve? In many cases it seems to me that it does not.
    How much actual ‘game teaching’ goes on in the senior sections of our clubs? I think that there is a lot of tactical work, whereby the coach sets up game situations for the forthcoming match and plays his selected 1st team against the reserves who are set up in the formation that he expects the opposition to play on the following Saturday. Of course, this is important work, but is there any actual ‘game teaching’ to improve the English players who have broken into the 1st team squad? We are importing top foreign coaches like Mourinho, Benetez, Mancini who are good on tactics but are they good teachers of the game? If they are then why are the English players, who still manage Premier League appearances, not improving?
    In the 1970s and 1980s first Ron Greenwood and then John Lyall, at West Ham, sometimes had to buy players on the transfer market when suitable players were not coming through from the youth section. ‘Pop’ Robson, Devonshire, Cross, Bonds, and plenty of others, improved considerably because they now began to be taught the game. They were not just cogs in a tactical wheel. I don’t see this happening now because we don’t have great teachers of the game.

  11. England’s Under-21 shambles in Israel proves the folly of throwing money at a problem in the hope of fixing it. Millions have been wasted by the FA on renovating Wembley. Now millions more have been wasted on the coaching centre at St. Georges’ Park. Nobody stopped to think if the coaching syllabus is the right one. No-one stopped to think if our selection of coaches is really gathering the right material.
    The previously quoted book, “The Goldmine Effect”, by Rasmus Ankersen, makes clear that providing luxurious surroundings and facilities is no guarantee of success in any sporting sphere. Creating the right environment and the best coaching methodology is what matters. What are the reasons why prospective coaches want to coach? Is the motivation finanacial reward? The FA have said that coaching should be well remunerated to get the best and make coaching a financially rewarding career. Is this a guarantee of excellence? In the past, many hundreds gave up their time freely to help youngsters improve and and enjoy their football. In years gone by, professional players did their training at their clubs in the morning and then spent the weekday afternoons coaching football in schools, where they might have earned a few shillings if they were lucky. Now we are seeing Premier League players retiring at 30 – 35 and then ‘doing their badges’. Used to wages of around £70,000 to £90,000 per week, they are looking to maintain that income into their coaching/managerial career. If they had done the school coaching in the formative years of their professional playing career, then would that not have fostered a greater sense of proportion as well as prepared them better for becoming coaches?
    A love and commitment to football comes at a young age, in early childhood. A desire to coach and pass on knowledge should also take root in early playing days, which helps the young player to think deeply about his game and measure his improvement. Sowing those early seeds of coaching awareness helps that player to eventually become a very good coach. It does not matter at what level that he has played the game – the park player can turn into an outstanding coach , just as much as an outstanding international player.
    We should not be surprised at our continual failure on the international stage.

  12. When you look at the different teams in the UEFA Under-21 Championship you see that all the teams except England have a game style. As John Cartwright has said on so many occasions, this is the first thing that a coach must decide upon when he first takes over a team, and he must share this ‘vision’ of how he wants the team to play with his assistants and all the players. If you look at England’s two matches so far, there is no recognisable game style, so this most basic of requirements appears not to have been covered. So in terms of making progress and heading towards some sort of improvement, we are not even getting out of the starting blocks.
    When the players first come together in the most junior national team, which I think is Under-15s, then the game style should be presented to them and all the FA’s appointed England coaches and assistants must be quite clear in their minds what this game style is and how they wish all England players at all age groups, male and female teams alike, to play.
    Spain have their game style, which is pretty well universally known by now, in its close identity with that of Barcelona. They adopt a close passing game which on many occasions wears a team down, as it did in the tournament against Russia when the winning goal did not arrive until a few minutes from the end after stout rersistance from the Russians looked likely to secure a draw. This is not necessarily a game style which England should copy in every detail because we have other qualities which Spain do not have and which it would be unwise to ignore. Similarly, Holland apply a rather more direct approach but which fits into their own possession and support game. This has been adopted as their game style and I suspect that National Coach, Van Gaal, has imposed this in all the Dutch representative teams since taking over after the 2012 Euros.
    But we do not appear to have a game style and so I can only conclude that no-one at the top of the FA’s coaching and international team structure is aware of its importance or, if they are, they are not facing up to it. So in this U-21 Tournament we get either ineffectual square passing, under no pressure, or hopeful long punts up to a lone striker to chase when he is marked by one defender in front of him and another behind and so has no chance of making anything of the pass.
    The call now is for Manager Stuart Pearce to be sacked and, according to sections of the press, Glenn Hoddle is the answer to the problems at this younger, development level. But it hardly makes a scrap of difference who the manager is if a game style is not implemented and agreed upon, and it must be consistent through all the England teams.

  13. At some point presumably the British Press will condemn the FA’s inadequate coaching structure and actually suggest how English football can join the upper-echelons of technical greatness. Surely, after so many years eventually the penny will drop… Or are they really THAT thick! Where on earth do these guys look for their solutions because it ain’t working.

  14. Hi Brazil94….
    When the Premier League was started 20 years ago, the main objective behind the idea was to assist the England team.It was not an idea designed to create a multi-million pound league, making billionaires out of its participants. It was the FA’s League and it was aimed at having a streamlined league of fewer teams, thereby affording the National Manager/Coach with more time with his players for coaching and preparation.
    Academies and Centres of Excellence were set up at clubs, but unfortunately nobody thought about having a consistent coaching methodology aimed at developing good, English talent. As has been repeatedly said on this site, there was no national playing style developed and agreed upon. All the clubs are purely self-serving and the way that players are pulled out of international matches and tournaments is scandalous. But the FA should not complain because they utterly failed to develop a league in which the first objective was to play fewer matches. However, they were just as mesmerised by the millions of pounds churning into, (and out of), the game and so they took their eye off the ball until it was too late, as it is now.
    The FA were simply not strong enough when they had to be, i.e. in the early days when they should have pushed through their ideas, of gradually decreasing the number of teams in the Premier League. Of course, it would have been a far less attractive league for foreign billionaires to sink parts of their fortunes in but, as I have said, this was not the objective of the Premier League.
    We have to decide: do we want a strong League but very weak national team or do we want a much improved national team but much inferior league ? For a start, I think that we have to be clear that the Premier League is a vastly over-rated league; it is not “the best league in the world” by a long stretch. It is a product of hype, mainly by Sky TV who have invested such enormous sums in it. We must introduce set quotas of English players in clubs’ squads for each match. Gradually the Premier League will become less attractive to both star foreign players and investors, but that is a price that we must pay. Sky will eventually pull out, but if we stick to the objective then eventually English football will benefit with better English players and a superior international team.
    From what I have seen , Scotland is setting an example at the moment. When their Under-16s played England last season, they produced a clear game style that had been worked on and the evidence was being produced in match play. They have a Dutch coach, Marc Wotte, with a Dutch coaching staff, in charge of their youth and development teams, and it is showing. In contrast, we hire incredibly expensive foreign coaches for the senior National Team and think that they will bring a magic wand along with them to transform our journeymen senior internationals. We are so surprised when another tournament failure is what we get in return !
    Most people south of Hadrian’s Wall think that Scottish football is a joke because they get small crowds, and it seems to be on a level with our Conference League. Well, it’s not a joke when they show us how to get it right in the development sphere. We should take a leaf from their book and appoint foreign coaching talent and know-how in our youth development area, if we are unable to get it right. Forget the Cappelos and Erikssons at senior level and start building from the bottom.
    We just seem to be thrashing around getting nowhere. Not long ago, Gareth Southgate resigned from the FA and though he had one of the many titles they give to people, I think that he was involved in development. Now I understand that Dick Bate has left and he was responsible for the recent ‘Future Game’ coaching manuals. So there is no continuity and so how can the situation be expected to improve when there is so much disruption ?

  15. The problem is that everyone of the reputable Press recognises their is a major problem, But they must start looking at solutions that are well adrift from the usual FA claptrap… It seems to me that the philosophy of Premier Skills is actually a kick in the right direction….Devised by Englishmen to help Englishmen. And the Press must recognise this and pick up the baton and run with it!

  16. Hi Brazil94….
    The problem is that the Premier League provides a great deal of copy, and therefore readership and advertising,for press, radio and television. Almost every newspaper carries special supplements at least once a week covering news, gossip and features on personalities and teams of the League. Mourinho is being welcomed with open arms by the media because he makes headlines and presents them with stories.
    A poor England performance in an international tournament provokes comment for a week or two in the summer, but once the season starts all that is forgotten when the club ‘warfare’ recommences. The furore generated at the moment with the Under-21 tournament is a little different, because now it is at last widely recognised that we have little in the cupboard that offers any real hope for the foreseeable future. But making harsh adjustments to the Premier League to help develop native talent is beyond hope, because too many powerful people have too much money tied up in the Premier League.

  17. Spain won the UEFA u-21 Tournament last night, and judging by their performance then the period of Spanish domination is set to continue for many years to come.
    We are light years behind this brand of football and I fear that we haven’t even started yet in the development of players like Isco and Thiago. But it is time for the FA to show its teeth. The squad that England took to Israel was blatantly not good enough. The FA must insist that the players whom the U-21 Manager wants for these tournaments are released. If the Premier League clubs get awkward then they must be reported to FIFA, because there are times in the year when the National Team has priority over the players and the U-21 Tournment was an event when, if Pearce wanted Chamberlain, Wilshire, Walker etc. then they should have gone and the clubs would have been powerless to stop them.
    It is time for the FA to stand up to the Premier League. The Premier League was started to help the National Team, but it is having completely the reverse effect. It is time to decide which is the more important : club football or the National Team. I say the National Team. I have read that half the England player did not want to be out there in Israel. That may or may not be true, but we must get back to days when representing your country was the ultimate honour in football, as in any sport.

  18. And given that FIFA democratically .. really for vote securing…and money – an after thought)…diluted the World Cup blowing 16 teams out to 32. Thus so many crappy teams take part, sometimes with easy draws, and ironically England consistently perform ( as we expect) POORLY, even struggling to qualify. With 16 teams they’d have no chance as things currently stand, but then how many other English speaking countries would be taking part? Thanks for such a wonderful FA Coaching scheme. Thanks that it hasn’t infected the World’s nations too much…that is a blessing.

    Champions League vs Diluted World Cup…. Choice?

  19. Hi Brazil94……
    I agree that the increase in teams , from the previous number of 16, was for financial reasons. The Europeans Championship last year proved that 16 is the correct number with practically every game being of good quality and meaningful, with no ‘dead rubbers’. But I undestand that from 2016 the number of teams in the Euros will also increase and so there will be a resulting drop in quality; again for financial reasons.
    It is significant, as you state, with a number of sub-standard teams therefore qualifying for World Cup tournaments, that England nevertheless often struggle to make the cut. This is particularly apparent with the qualification situation for World Cup 2014. England should be able to qualify from their group with ease, but as it is, I’m far from confident that England will be in Brazil, or even get second place and go into the play-offs. The fact is that Montenegro and Poland have players who play in the Bundesliga and Serie A. The result is that those players have improved considerably with the coaching that they have received in Germany and Italy and have consequently become dangerous opponents. Ukraine have a number of players from Shahktar Donetsk, who are now a top European club, well run and well coached.
    The last time England made a decent World Cup effort was in Italy in 1990, when they reached the semi finals. This was just before the formation of the Premier League, when a transfer to a continental club was an attractive financial proposition to a top English player. In the England squad for that World Cup were Walker and Platt, who played in Italy, and Waddle, who played in France. They had become better players during their spells abroad and England reaped the benefit when they pulled on the white shirt. Shortly afterwards, Gascoigne went to Italy for a few years, and improved, but then came the Premier League and there has been no financial imperative for English players to play abroad.
    Our coaching is therefore not good enough, and that is the prime cause of our national team malaise.

    • Platt went to Italy (Bari) in 1991. Walker left Forest and signed for Sampdoria in 1992.

      I agree that Englands best young players should play in U-21 tournaments. I think they would have made a difference.

  20. They may have done; however one could effectively argue they wouldn’t have made any great difference because the English team/s get exposed technically and tactically by any foreigner team with the exception of those countries who both speak English and were trained via the FA/Charles Hughes doctrine of POMO.

    Although it would have been an impressive nail – in the coffin – to have seen the (sour) cream of England’s players get done over by the other sides in Israel.

    In football I learnt long ago that patriotism GETS YOU NOWHERE!

  21. Hi Stian…..
    You are quite right in pointing out to me the errors re Walker and Platt with regard to England’s World Cup performance in 1990. They were off the top of my head without checking ! However, I have since recalled that Lineker went to to Italia90 after several years in Spain with Barcelona, and having become a better player. Also in that era, although not with direct influence on the 1990 World Cup, were the transfers to foreign clubs of Wilkins and then, a little later, of Gascoigne and Ince, which had a beneficial effect on England’s better than usual performance in Euro96.
    The lesson of all this, however, is that we are not reaping the benefit of our better players receiving top quality coaching at foreign clubs, largely due to the formation of the Premier League, which has seen most of the game’s financial riches here in England. This has really highlighted the poor develpoment system in this country, which John Cartwright has continually focused on in this blog for the last few years.
    Premier Skills is the best development coaching programme I know of for grassroots football, and judging by the performances of England junior teams in international competition for several years now, it is also needed in the professional academy ranks as well. Our players are like automatums, they play and think in straight lines, with no imagination or intelligence. Even though the England U-21 team would have been much strengthened by the inclusion of Chamberlain, Walker, Wilshire etc, had they been made available, the players who did go to Israel should have shown much more than they did, and offered more hope for the future, regardless of results.
    The FA do put out some good work and there are plenty of good coaching demonstartions out there for coaches in the grassroots game to view and learn from. However, it is too much of a mish mash and there is no common theme. If the Level 1 of Premier Skills was adopted by the FA then I believe that everyone who coaches or runs teams for primary school age children should have the course as a compulsory requirement. The initial practice of movement in the area of running with the ball in the hands, dodging, weaving and twisting, in and out of gates and between other children, would be of benefit to everyone in the development of motor skills which are lacking because of the sedentary nature of the modern child’s upbringing.
    Once we get everyone working from the same starting point then at least we start off on the right road and we stand a chance of keeping on the right road.

  22. England looked to be heading for a morale boosting 2 – 0 win over Iraq last night in their opening match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, but Iraq fought back to record a deserved 2 – 2 draw and the clouds still hang over English football.
    England were physically strong, fit and well drilled. Their first goal came from a header, the result, it appeared, of a well-rehearsed corner. We are still good at those things, working on set plays and attacking the ball with powerful headers in the penalty area. But the Iraqis were the cleverer players, smaller, with less physique, but better on the ball and taking care of it when in possession.
    We seem to be as far away from those qualities as ever, and it is quite a state of affairs when young professionals, some of whom had matches last season in the Premier League and Championship, are handed a lesson by Iraq ! But until we develop the vital technical skills in the 5 – 12 age group then we shall continue to flounder, and it seems that we are continually failing in that early age group.
    I don’t know what the experience is of other grass roots coaches, but whenever League club scouts come to watch our matches on a Sunday, the players they are interested in are always the bigger boys, regardless of technical strengths or weaknesses. For as long as i can remember, it is their physical attributes which the pro clubs always take note of, and in my experience this attitude does not seem to change. Is this the same experience with other coaches/managers in the grass roots game?
    Until the Premier Skills methodology is accepted as compulsory work by the FA, then I can’t see the present situation changing.

  23. Little Puskas, little Hidegkuti and little Boszik gave England a lesson in 1953 and it’ll be 60 years on November 25th that’ll prove the FA haven’t learnt a damn thing!

  24. The FA are making small changes and tweaking little things. The retreat line to be introduced into small-sided mini-soccer games next season is a step in the right direction. So is the reduced numbers in all games up to under 15 matches. But it is just meddling without a fundamentally different approach. These changes will have a modertate effect on promoting technical players rather than just the physically strong ones. But only a complete shift over to the Premier Skills coaching methodology can really make a wholesale change.

  25. Thank God that the Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua & Deps, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Rep, Chad, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Republic of China, Colombia, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica,, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Danzig, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gaza Strip, The Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Holy Roman Empire, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jonathanland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, North Korea, South Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mount Athos, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Newfoundland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Ottoman Empire, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Prussia, Qatar, Romania, Rome, Russian Federation, Rwanda, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, Saint Vincent & the, Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe have not been infected by the Football Associations warped coaching scheme.

    Pity Australia and the United States ( although they are making some progress), Canada and little New Zealand.

    • Dont Pity Australia.
      FFA have a vision , playing style all in the national curriculum which eventually 118 NPL clubs of the 2nd tier will all use, coupled with the skills acquisition program for 9 -13 years.
      England is copying Strayah with regards the difeerent formats used within ssf
      plus the retreat line. Even at 11 and 12 years the NPL teams aren’t allowed to press with more than 3 players at goal kicks.
      A whole culture change is taken place which England can only dream of as the FA have no control on what and how football is delivered for the elite pathway and what feeds into it.

      • Well for one thing only got neck ache in about four countries…but they did have some blue sky… saw a bit of that… For some reason these round things kept spending a lot of time up there.

  26. Great to revisit some of the old blogs,

    A question when evaluating is what if say 7 of the 11 are ready to move on and 3 are really struggling, I wonder how you cope with that?
    What if you have children who have physical issues, such as running, jumping and i dont mean disabled players, just children who are not athletic.

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