environment

A young player will experience many challenges on their player development journey, many of which are outside of their control. PDP Editor & UEFA A licensed academy coach, Dave Wright highlights the importance of truly understanding the player as an individual, outlining the benefits of an approach that helps us understand how constraints shape players’ non-linear development. As adults we spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about systems, statistics, formations, results, tactics, outcomes and all the organisational factors that go on when working in a…

The question this week comes from Rich: “My main issue is getting my U9 team to believe they are as good as what I see them do at training. On game day they seem to freeze up and suffer a bit of stage fright!” Your Turn: Ask PDP Anything Do you have a coaching question that we might be able to help with?  We would love to hear from you!  Here’s what you can do: 1. Tweet your questions to us @playerdp, or contact us on our Facebook…

Premature professionalism in youth sport is a growing problem. Environments created to replicate professional sport, ‘elite’ pathways at 8-years-old and coaches removing autonomy from the environment by exerting total control. In this article, PDP Editor, Dave Wright challenges the status quo and asks how we can break the machine that coaching is at risk of becoming. The world of sport is constantly evolving and new technology creeps into all sporting codes. Youth players wear tracking devices and GPS, while data can even now be captured…

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. —…

What motivates young people to play sport? Why do some players like Zlatan Ibrahimović and Yannick Bolasie play the way they do? In this Masterclass Discussion, Dan Wright sits down with PDP Lead Researcher James Vaughan to discuss some of the complexities of player motivation. James has been studying motivation in football and shares some of his research to help football coaches working in the the youth development space. Big topics like Self Determination Theory, intrinsic motivation and social-cultural influences are discussed. Image Source: Pexels

Coaching youth sport is complex, challenging and rewarding. In this Masterclass Discussion we speak to Founder of Changing the Game Project and youth coaching expert, John O’Sullivan. PDP Editor, Dave Wright hosts John for an in depth discussion which dives into a range of topics including women’s football, John’s work in the youth coaching space, specialisation, organisational culture and creating learning environments for young people. John is a leader in driving change in youth sport, a long time PDP contributor and has some fantastic ideas…

Communication is a crucial element of effective coaching. In this article, Professor Stephen Rollnick challenges traditional methods of coach communication and offers some practical solutions for coaches to improve player relationships. I went on this 4-year journey through sport to get a feel for how people communicate.  Giving feedback and advice to players sprang out at me from all corners of football. From having a quiet word, to looking at technical data, conducting player reviews, having heated exchanges in the dressing room and beyond, I…

In this Masterclass Discussion, FA National Women’s Coach Developer, Amy Price shares her unique approach to player development with Dave Wright & Dan Wright in a highly engaging conversation. Amy shares research on how coaches can use the principles of video game design to engage young players in their own development, setting challenges, designing tasks and encouraging problem-solving. Amy outlines how players can take ownership of the task and you can ‘level’ up the challenge as you go. This is essential viewing if you want…

How can you make your environment as positive as possible? In this Masterclass Discussion, Positive Psychology expert, Lara Mossman joins PDP Editor, Dave Wright for an in-depth discussion on positive psychology in coaching. Lara is one of Player Development Project’s founding contributors and is a world-class expert in the area of positive psychology in coaching. Dave and Lara tackle some common misconceptions around psychology, discuss what positive psychology is and how coaches can apply it. The conversation also covers what an autonomy supportive environment actually…

Problem-solving is crucial in player development. In this article, Founder of Changing the Game Project, John O’Sullivan shares an excellent article on the importance of guiding children towards solutions and creating autonomy in learning environments. Imagine you went to your child’s algebra class and got to be a fly on the wall. Imagine the teacher was being assessed on your child’s test results in two days. Now imagine that instead of teaching your child how to problem solve, and the concepts behind doing algebra problems,…

In this article, Founder of Working With Parents in Sport, Gordon MacLelland shares a challenging article on the dangers of adults hijacking the youth sport experience, and how parents can ensure their children own the experience. Whose game is it anyway? In many ways a simple question to answer, but one that despite what we may say as parents and sometimes as coaches, is not always backed up by the behaviours that we display on a regular basis. In the cold light of day we…

In this Masterclass Discussion, PDP Editor Dave Wright is joined by Reed Maltbie for a fascinating and wide ranging conversation on youth development. Reed is a TEDx Speaker, has a Masters in Sports Psychology & Early Childhood Education and is founder of Coaches Realm & Raising Excellence. In this conversation, Reed shares some excellent insights into the challenges of organisational culture and how program leaders can make change, the importance of parent education and how coaches can build stronger relationships with parents. Plus, Reed and…

In this article, coach, blogger and former Australian International Footballer, Joey Peters shares an article on the challenge for coaches to move from a control and command position to trust, optimising the youth development environment and allowing freedom for young athletes to explore. The Learning Dynamics Let’s move the sporting landscape from the old ‘Command and Control’ management method, which limits human potential in its stifling and restrictive manner, towards a ‘play-based’ facilitative approach. There we can respect and trust the science that clearly acknowledges learners capabilities as…

P. Potrac, R.L. Jones, D Gilbourne and L. Nelson. The Big Idea Let’s approach this research paper indirectly. For it concerns a hard truth in the profession of football coaching, the culture of it. Let’s introduce the problem by way of fiction first – even though there is nothing fictive in the comparison. Louise Penny is an award-winning Canadian writer. Her novels feature Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete de Quebec. Early on in one of Penny’s books, Inspector Isabelle Lacoste reflected on how…

What is leadership? Mark Upton, Co-creator of myfastestmile and world class coach developer discusses leadership in sport, some of the traditional perspectives of what leadership is and the importance of empathy and collaboration. “They are after strong leadership…someone to come in with a clear plan” A snippet from a recent conversation where we discussed a national sports body looking to fill a senior position in the organisation. It drew me back to a moment in time a couple of years ago where my conversational partner…

What are some of the key considerations for coaching youth soccer players? The teenage years in particular are a crucial time for our players’ development as both soccer players and people. As their coaches, we can play a decisive role in that process. Between the ages of 12 and 18, youth players will experience significant physical, psychological, and emotional growth. Social dynamics and the pressures placed upon them will change. And they’ll make repeated leaps between different game formats, transitioning from small-sided games to 11v11….

Ase Strandbu, Kari Stefansen, Ingrid Smette, and Morten Rensio Sandvik The Big Idea “Involved parenthood” in organized youth sports is what these Norwegian researchers are attempting to better understand.  Child-centered parenting they note—using the United States as an example—is still evolving since its early cultural development in the 1960s.  Organized youth sport in those days was in its infancy, preceding the appearance of involved parents.  On a personal note, this reviewer—who is from the U.S.—recalls his early childhood sporting days in the 1960s, and happily…

Cameron Knowles has been part of the Portland Timbers organisation for well over a decade. Following a 7 year professional playing career at Real Salt Lake, the Timbers and Montreal Impact, Cameron made the move into coaching where he worked as an Assistant Coach with the first team for five years. The holder of a Masters in Psychology & now into his second season as Head Coach of Portland Timbers T2, Cameron joins PDP Editor, Dave Wright for a conversation on his journey through the…

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