Did the players really ‘work’ at training tonight

I can’t remember the last time I went for a run. I mean a run were you warm up, run a distance, cool down then go home. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was over 20 years ago. I could make the time and I know all the health benefits of doing it but I don’t do it.

Strangely though I am little sore this morning because I couldn’t resist joining in on a game at training earlier this week. I did too much running and now my hips (plus various other body parts) are feeling their age plus perhaps 20 years.

This blog is about the reasons why someone who has not gone on a run in over 20 years would participate regularly in an activity that required lots of running. The answer for me is simple I enjoy playing football and don’t enjoy running as an activity on its own.

Last year I suggested to the Coaches at the club I am at that we should try to make training sessions as enjoyable as possible. My reasons being

– If the players are enjoying themselves they will behave better, learn more and want to be there.

– A player spends most of their contact time with the club at training therefore if they enjoy training they will probably enjoy being at our club.

Ronaldo laughing

– The vast majority of the players have paid to join our club because they enjoy playing football so surely it is our responsibility to try to make sure they continue to link football with enjoyment and not with being ‘work’.

– If the players are happy and enjoying themselves this normally makes the role of a Coach much easier.

– The players will be more likely to return each year if they have a positive, enjoyable experience.

Essentially I asked the Coaches to consider when they planned their sessions whether the players would enjoy doing the practices or games involved.

I am wondering whether any of you Coaches reading this blog have heard some of the feedback I got

“That’s terrific for the under 7 & 8s but I have got the Div 1 U15s”

“When am I expected to coach if I am trying to make it fun all the time”

“I coach a team of highly motivated 17/18 year old players and they are not going to stand for me putting on fun sessions”

I will admit I was particularly prepared for the discussions that followed because I thought the majority of experienced Coaches when planning their sessions would already consider this. I thought I was only talking to the novice Coaches apparently I wasn’t.

Interestingly it was the Coaches of the older players who thought players didn’t need to or maybe shouldn’t enjoy training.

The discussion went on long into the night.

Why is it that people regard enjoyment and learning to be separate?

We see evidence that the two are linked around us all the time. I would love to be able to draw and have had access all my life to the equipment necessary to practice drawing but I just get bored doing it. However every time I see a great pencil drawing I always think ‘I would love to be able to do that’.

We believe that players need to do thousands of hours of practice to learn the game sufficiently well to be elite but really who expects a child to put in those hours if they find a significant chunk of them unenjoyable.

I showed this 48 second clip and asked the Coaches did this sound familiar.


For the last 5/6 years of his career he gave this answer so many times and hundreds of other older professionals have too and nobody bats an eyelid.

If enjoyment is a prime motivator for players who have achieved so much then why shouldn’t we regard it as a motivator for the young players we coach to continue to participate?

As always I need to hear other Coach’s’ opinions because we all want to coach our players in the best possible manner.

Thank you to everyone who contacts me and leaves messages on the blog it is really appreciated.

Look forward to hearing from you

Please leave a comment or email me seanthecoach@icloud.com

Follow me on Twitter @SeanDArcy66

Till next time


2 thoughts on “Did the players really ‘work’ at training tonight

  1. I think the biggest issue is the misuse of the words fun and enjoyment. Fun and enjoyment are both perceived as being the same thing or interchangeable. But they’re not, for me, anyways. My players don’t have ‘fun’ at practice in the sense of fooling around, laughing, doing as they please or making joke or things of that nature. But they enjoy the training, they’re working quite hard and a lot is asked of them but they are constantly involved, we don’t do drills and the practices move quickly from exercise to exercise.

    They enjoy the practice because most of it is spent, in one way or another, playing soccer, mostly of course in small numbered situations taken from the full game but they’re playing and being coached positively but pushed. That’s another thing, lots of people confuse positive as being nice or too easy on the kids or a pushover but that’s not the case either, I’m very positive through the session but I also push them very hard and continually demand 100% from everyone but without being harsh or negative.

    I think that is a lot of the problem, misunderstanding the use of words. Training shouldn’t be fun, most of the time, but it should be enjoyable.


    • Yes I agree the Coaches mistook me saying enjoyment for fun even though I did point out what I meant a number of times.
      We are certainly on the same page here and I agree with your description of being positive. Being positive is associated with endless praise when really it is nothing of the sort. Feedback that doesn’t praise the player can still be given in a positive way.
      Thanks for comments.


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