Player involvement and reluctance

Hi all,

I'm new to coaching a team and have just taken charge of my sons newly formed U7 team. I've got previous experience of coaching soccer schools so I knew what I was getting into.

However, I'm struggling with a couple of players and was wondering if anyone had a similar situation and how's best to deal with it.

I've got a mixed ability team and I do try to cater for each ability in training so they will all continue to develop. Unfortunately I've got 2 players in the team that really enjoy coming to training and seeing there new friends. They take part in the drills I have setup but when it gets to the match in training they don't seem too keen or interested. This then follows on into the friendlies we have played. The boys don't want to go near the other team and don't ask for the ball. I do get the feeling that they like to come to training but particularly interested or ready for matches. It's starting to have an effect on the higher ability players when in the matches. I also don't feel like it's fair on the team as a whole.

Has anyone had a similar situation or can give guidance in what's the best approach?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Hi there! I'm relatively new to coaching (U18s school team) but I've been a teacher for a while. I've always worked in mixed-ability groups. Sure, you get disruptors, refusers, and you have your star pupils, but every class have quiet refusers, quiet evaders. I get kids who don't apply themselves in class, maybe turn up and even enjoy the subject on a level, but won't apply themselves for fear of failure or exposure or ridicule. These are the quiet kids who hope that if they say little and do little in front of their teacher, they can be left alone and ignored. 
    Obviously you're not gonna ignore it. You want them to progress and get better, and I don't think it's bad to tell them that that's what you want directly.
    To put it in friendly terms, I'd say football is brilliant because every person on the pitch is involved and is in action, and that you want them to see how fun and exciting it is to be involved, to get stuck in, to take risk, to make mistakes and to try hard for your friends around you. This way you emphasize the positive goal as well as addressing their mistakes without having to go harsh on them.
    Parental support and engagement is a great way to have an extra level of reinforcement in the attitude you want them to express.
    Make sure that when even in small games when they do show for the ball, or do engage their opposition, you praise them and tell the group after what you loved about what they did too. Everybody loves praise, especially sincere praise from somebody they value and respect. Make them feel valued and focused on and central to the team.

    These are just some ideas I have, but it's a great question.