Why do you coach?

Exploring the right motivation for coaching in youth football

Maybe you’re the coach who had an unfulfilling football career yourself and are now living vicariously through the kids you coach.

Maybe you started off watching your Premier League team play weekly thinking “What’s the gaffer thinking! I’d go with a 442 with a diamond in midfield allowing the regista to dictate the tempo of the game”. You decided to put your armchair tactical nous to the test and are now in charge of a youth football team.

Maybe you’re in the coaching game to help the kids by giving them something to do and thus give back to the community.

Which one of these reasons is the right one? Maybe you think it’s a combination of one or more of the above. Well, i believe they’re all wrong, well not wrong but none of these should be the primary reason. I’ve learnt it’s not about what the coach wants, it’s about ensuring the coach is setup to provide for the needs of the people he/she is serving, the kids.

Ok so the reason we should coach is to serve the kids. What do the kids want? Ultimately my vigorous and thorough research (Joking! I asked the kids i coach) revealed they simply want to have fun! Don’t believe me? Put it to the test. Next time you are up by a narrow lead in a game, ask your kids what they would rather have a) to not have fun but win b) have lots of fun but probably lose? The answer will be “have fun” or the smart Alec will retort “let’s have fun and win coach!”

Thinking through this topic deeper there will be other elements the kids need but will not be able to articulate. A youth soccer coach should provide a safe environment for the kids to:

  1. Have fun — This must be the primary reason
  2. Develop their football — Coach must support the aspirations of some of the kids. Also if the kid can’t perform, he/she will have less fun.
  3. Develop as human beings — Kids will subconsciously look at the coach as a role model. The example the coach sets by their actions will be mirrored by the children. Moreover coaches have the ability to actively teach children positive life lessons i.e. working together is better, putting the needs of other before yours, sharing etc.

Have you asked the kids you coach what they want?