The Blog

Gratitude is a trait we should all be aiming to develop in the young players we work with. Developing better people first is a fundamental belief at PDP. So as coaches, how do we approach this? Mental performance expert John Haime discusses how players can shift their mindset and enhance their own experience through taking a grateful approach to their own development, outlining how a simple emotion can elevate performance   What are you grateful for? That might seem like a strange question to ask…

In this article rugby coach and researcher, Jonny McMurtry discusses the importance of connection between athlete and coach taking a deep dive into an approach that is needs based and not just athlete-centred. Firstly, I hope this blog post finds you, your family and friends in good health; this is strange times and new territory for us all and I hope we can follow the advice of health professionals and leaders of our countries to “flatten the curve” and keep our communities safe and well,…

In this article, AFC A licensed coach Andrew Oakley shares his perspective on a significant issue in Australian grassroots football. Andrew discusses the risks of trials, recruitment and talent identification, outlining the importance of belonging and cohesion in a young footballers developmental journey. Why do we keep shuffling the cards in hope of a ‘winning’ hand? At the end of every season in Australia’s youth football landscape, a ritual is repeated that isn’t doing our clubs or players any favours. The annual circus of retention,…

In this article, PDP Coaching Advisor, James Coutts shares some of his favourite passing and possession practices which can be adapted for players across all age groups. Like many coaches I love using rondos or small-sided positional games consistently in my sessions. There are so many variations that can be used, each with a variety of outcomes. I have implemented all the sessions below with a range of age groups from six-years-old right up to senior players, adapting the practices to suit the group in…

Coaches around the world are having to innovate with their session design as football training kicks off in some nations after the global pandemic. In this article, PDP Coaching Advisor, James Coutts shares some practical ideas for sessions that allow for social distancing. Like many coaches preparing to get back onto the grass I started designing my sessions for the various groups I’d be working with as football resumes with a whole new remit – social distancing. Most sessions I’d implemented prior to the Covid-19…

In this article, PDP Technical Advisor, Dan Wright wades into the opposed vs. unopposed practice debate. Dan shares his perspective on why this may be a redundant argument if we are to ensure that every player gets the individual support they require to maximise their potential. Each day I scroll through social media and see a similar discussion taking place. Every. Single. Day. The ‘unopposed versus opposed’ debate.  Now, very quickly I will attempt to share with you my opinion on this and the context…

The question this week comes from the John via Facebook: “What are some of the common mistakes when you start coaching?” Additional Resources Ebook: Coaching Fundamentals: Six Steps to Creating Quality Youth Soccer Training Sessions Your Players Will Love. Your Turn: Ask PDP Anything Each week, we will choose a key question from our community for discussion.  In order to build a broad range of answers which will be valuable for our community, we need you to get involved. Here’s what you can do: Ask questions. Post them…

This article is the first chapter from Gold Dust: How to Become an Effective Coach, Quickly by David & Keith Mayer. The story focusses on the importance of building rapport, understanding the person and developing long-lasting relationships. This book is dedicated to the memory of Dick Bate and 10% of all sales go to the Giles Trust. Chapter 1 – The Lone Wolf: The Story of a Boy – An experience from Keith Mayer For the purpose of the story we will call this athlete…

Sideline support and direct instruction are two very different things. In this article, Founder of Working with Parents in Sport, Gordon MacLelland discusses the damage that can be caused from parents overstepping and instructing children while they play. Every weekend all over the world millions of parents, children and coaches set off for their weekly sporting ritual ‘Match Day’. Many will follow the same process each week and will never question their routine or behaviour. Many of these parents and coaches are well intentioned, trying…

Have you had a conversation with your players about why they play football? What is it that motivates them to turn up to training, sometimes three or more times a week, no matter what the conditions? In this article, resident positive psychology expert Lara Mossman looks at the ways in which coaches can empower players to become self-motivated. It’s likely that across your team there will be a variety of different reasons why players turn up. Some may not want to be there at all…

How do you decide what coaching practices to deliver? And what process do you follow when designing the practice? Fulham FC Head of Coaching and regular PDP contributor, Ben Bartlett shares an article from Hive Learning which provides steps 1 and 2 of the 6 stage process he uses to design effective coaching practices. “We must help coaches understand and rationalise why they coach and behave in the way they do rather than settling for mimicking others”. With clubs and coaches dedicating significant amounts of time…

In this article, UEFA A licensed coach David Garcia shares his thoughts on the benefits of chaos and failure within coaching environments. “You’ve got to live at the edge of your capabilities. You’ve got to live where you’re almost certain you’re going to fail. That’s the reason for practice. Practice is controlled failure.” – Will Smith Indeed, practice is controlled failure. It should be a realistic preparation of the game. It’s preparation where your players will fail, but will learn how to grow from that…

The question this week comes from the PDP Member’s Slack Channel. “How do I avoid over coaching?” Additional Resources Ebook: Coaching Fundamentals: Six Steps to Creating Quality Youth Soccer Training Sessions Your Players Will Love. Your Turn: Ask PDP Anything Each week, we will choose a key question from our community for discussion.  In order to build a broad range of answers which will be valuable for our community, we need you to get involved. Here’s what you can do: Ask questions. Post them in the comments of…

In this chapter of John O’Sullivan’s new book, Every Moment Matters, John shares ‘Lesson 2’: You Coach a Person, Not a Sport. This excerpt dives into the youth development overhaul at the Belgian FA, cites the work of Steve Kerr, discusses athlete-centered coaching and gives coaches some practical tools to self-reflect. Lesson 2: You Coach a Person, Not a Sport You have to ask one fundamental question: who is in front of me? —Kris van der Haegen You coach a child, not a sport. —…

Let’s focus on how we’re coaching, not what we’re coaching. In this article, motivational researcher and top rugby coach, Jonny McMurtry shares an article on the value of relationships and connection in coaching. After an excellent article written around Matt Wilkie, IRFU’s head of coach development coinciding with my own personal development in assisting swimming coaches, a sport where I know very little around the tactical and technical aspects, it pushed me down a rabbit hole looking at how we can adjust our focus to…

In this article PDP Coaching Advisor, James Coutts discusses the value of ‘unit coaching’ or ‘position specific coaching’ and how you can incorporate this specific coaching model into your sessions. What is unit training? When discussing unit training we are considering a unit that’s position specific within the team, for example ‘defenders’ can be a unit, ‘wingers’ can be a unit and so on. Depending on what shape you play could have an impact, it could mean you’re working with a ‘back 3’ as your…

In this article, PDP Lead Researcher, James Vaughan reflects on how a history of linear, data-driven approaches are limiting player development. James emphasises the importance of understanding the complexity that comes with human development. Last month I finally published a scientific paper, Developing Creativity to Enhance Human Potential in Sport: A Wicked Transdisciplinary Challenge. After rejections and reviews, the paper was finally out there. Cue scientific revolution and practical evolution – next step Nobel prize ceremony in December. Not quite. Even so, I was excited…

Are learning and performance different? In this article, Nick Soderstrom discusses how teachers or coaches can enhance performance by stretching individuals and discusses the key differences between the two. You’re teaching a concept in class, working through examples and explaining the steps. You have your students do some practice problems and they seem to be getting it! After a while, the bell rings, you dismiss your class, and you leave for home feeling satisfied with your students’ progress and your teaching methods. The next day,…