Whether you are already a football team manager, are thinking about becoming one, an old one or a new one…hopefully, there will be at least something for everyone in this guide on how to manage a football team. No, it’s not everything there is to know! It’s just a few pointers. You may lap it all up or there may be a single golden nugget you take away.
In this section, I’ll discuss a couple of tips for dealing with players. I won’t pretend that the following covers anything close to all of the player interactions you are likely to experience, but it will hopefully act as a bit of a nudge to some who may have overlooked a tip or two.
It’s so important to have an individual and personal relationship with every player. This is achieved by talking to every one of them individually at every practice session even if it is sometimes for only a minute. It’s not enough to address them all together as a group. You have to know them all one by one
Teach not what to think but how to think
Encourage players to troubleshoot, strategise and problem solve for themselves and don’t always hand all the answers to them on a plate..For example, you may ask them how they would approach defending a specific area or how to get out of a situation while outnumbered. It’s often a good idea to ask them to break off into smaller groups and have them to come up with solutions. You’ll find sometimes the “teacher becomes the student” and of course, your team will feel valued by offering their input
Be careful with the manner in which you correct mistakes
If you are too quick and too frequent in correcting mistakes, you can adversely affect a players confidence and enthusiasm. Tact and kindness must be exercised in this instance. There are also ways in which you can guide a player to improve without your direct intervention such as pairing a player up with a more experienced player sometimes. Another method is to give drills that can be practised solo outside of practice times. You can even video record some practice sessions and playback some footage allowing players to judge themselves!
Language and the power of words
The way in which we word things matter and words have empowering and disempowering potential. Simple and subtle alterations in the words we speak can have huge results. You want a player to change what he is doing and feel enthusiastic about doing so rather than change what they are doing because “I just got a bollocking”.
For example, you could change:
“That was terrible! Do it again properly!”
“Have another go, I know you can do better, practice makes perfect!”
Don’t forget the praise! It’s easy to point out what’s wrong but we often neglect to say what’s right. People need reinforcement.
Be versatile and adapt to players varying learning styles and motivations
Every player is different, some learn fast, some learn slow. Some learn better with one teaching style while others with another. You also have a whole variety of behaviours before and during a match to deal with when nerves kick in and emotions are volatile. There is no advice here because everything is a case by case basis but just be aware and don’t be under any illusion that you can be a “one size fits all” football coach
Focus on the players, the club and the good times – everything else will fall into place
Don’t be anxious about wins and performance. If you have a happy club and motivated players who show up to all the practice sessions because they are happy…remember…practice makes perfect. Your football club WILL be a success and the wins WILL come.
Club Practical Matters
To know how to manage a football team, it goes a little beyond meeting the lads on the field. Let’s look at a few more points that relate to running the club and some safety matters
If you try to run every aspect of the club yourself, you’ll either burn out, lose your mojo, stop enjoying it, not be good at it, be perceived as a control freak or all of the above. It’s just not a good idea. You need to delegate. That being said, it may prove difficult to recruit anyone so in that case, it’s not your fault and congratulations for keeping it all together.
Beyond coaching, there is all the admin, refereeing, fundraising, website work, money handling, team bus driver…the list goes on. If you are not fortunate enough to have one or two helpers, you may find more success with a lot of people each having a single responsibility. Many hands make light work as they say. The players themselves may be happy to take on a role within the club. If however, you run a kids football club then you may get lucky with a few of the parents.
Have a First Aid Appointed Person
The very nature of sport is that someone is always getting hurt. Make sure there is a first aid trained person around always and a first aid kit fully equipped and stocked. Nowadays it’s also become common practice to have a fully charged mobile phone inside a first aid kit too.
You would think that players would always show up fed and watered with a bottle of water with them. Sometimes players forget. Intense exercise requires sipping water. While the players should take responsibility for themselves, it doesn’t hurt to have an emergency supply. It would be preferable than dealing with someone who collapses on the field. It would also be ideal to carry some energy bars too. Energy bars are very portable and don’t go out of date for a long time.
Make no mistake there is so much more to know on how to manage a football team but more aspects will be written about in future articles. We hope you enjoyed these few tidbits and more importantly, took something away from it.