We are very grateful to Lee Suter, Football Development Officer at Kent FA, for allowing us to share with you the very latest document on English Football’s philosophy of play which looks at how we, as coaches at all levels of the game, can get involved and affect our national game of the future. This document is FREE to download – as with everything else on The Coaching Family website.
Simply click on the following link to download your copy of “ENGLAND DNA – Playing Your Part” England DNA Presentation LCC FINAL – Copy
Tony, thanks for giving us the opportunity to ask you a few questions. To start, give us an idea of your background in coaching young footballers?
I started coaching at quite a young age as I am a qualified PE teacher and therefore took my initial coaching badges whilst at University. After gaining my Level 3 I began full-time work at Crystal Palace’s Academy as their Educational and Welfare Office with some added responsibility for coaching. Over my 5 years there I coached all ages up to U16. During that time I gained my UEFA ‘A’ Licence with the English FA in 2005. On leaving Crystal Palace I went to Fulham FC for four years coaching their U14’s and scouting for them. Presently I am employed at a top English Premier League academy, which I have been working at for 6 years. I scout and coach for them, working with their U7’s/U8’s.
You co-founded a revolutionary new website called TekkersTV, tell us a bit more about the site and the ideas behind it?
Tekkerstv was co-founded by me and another scout who works full time at a top Premier league club. Tekkerstv is simply a video based website that allows players to upload their videos showing their skills. We have a multitude of categories that players can upload to. We also separate users by age. The site is designed partly as an interactive social network site where players can create their own leagues, discuss their videos and challenge other users to ‘better’ their skills and partly as an opportunity for players to showcase their skills to scouts.
We have scouts registered on the site. There are independent scouts and official scouts registered. Official scouts have to be verified by their club before they can be registered as an official scout. Official scouts are also clearly identifiable on the site.
Tekkerstv is basically designed for everyone to participate in (the site does have parental safeguards). It has a serious side in terms of the opportunity to be scouted (I have already scouted players from the site) but there is a very important fun social networking aspect where players can interact with other users.
How did you come up with the initial idea for Tekkerstv?
In my work as a scout I have many requests by players to be scouted. Many players don’t get the chance to show their abilities and this site allows them to do so. There are some fantastic players on the site.
I and my co-founder also felt that users needed to be able to use the site for free. We don’t like the idea of people paying money (sometimes a lot of money) to post video’s or attend trials; on the slim chance they may be scouted. The site only guarantees that scouts are watching and monitoring the site. We never say a player will be scouted. There are paying aspects to the site but the site is basically free to use.
Additionally, we didn’t just want the site to be seen as a scouting tool. Football is for everyone and with today’s new technology players/parents are constantly videoing their skills, performances etc. Therefore we wanted features to the site where players can interact and have fun.
What are the benefits of players, scouts and coaches using the TekkersTV website?
The obvious benefit is giving players the opportunity to be seen by scouts from professional football clubs. However, we feel the wider benefit is the opportunity for players to interact and foster a positive learning environment at their club. The idea of the leagues and challenges is to create a fun environment where clubs/teams can create their own leagues. Coaches could set players weekly challenges which can be posted on their league (a video goes up the league based on likes). Additionally they can have their own crossbar challenge or video practice/matches (with parental permission) that players can watch. This all helps develop a positive club/team spirit and understanding. Like most social network sites, if used properly and sensibly, the site has great benefits to the users.
Additionally, the site has training videos which are split in to three levels (the fourth level is coming soon) where we give step by step guides to improving skills on the ball.
Users can also interact with players from all over the world. Our users/videos are worldwide. Furthermore, New, young Freestylers are beginning to post so there is the added opportunity for them to show what they can do to a wider audience.
What are your hopes and aims for the TekkersTV idea, how do you see it developing?
We already have extra features we are looking to add. Like all new sites, we are constantly looking to improve and to develop. So feedback from anyone to us is greatly appreciated.
In the long term I’d like to think that Tekkerstv will be the site that players/parents/coaches go to when they wish to post videos of THEIR skills/matches etc. or watch videos of ordinary people from all over the world demonstrating their footballing ability.
The site is also unique in that it’s aimed solely at grassroots players. There are so many individual YOU TUBE accounts of players/parents/coaches posting. This site I feel links all those to ONE site.
Finally, we understand you are also in the process of launching a Performance App, can you tell us more? Is it designed to work alongside TekkersTV or is it a stand-alone App?
Tekkerstv was actually a by-product of the Performance Analysis App. Aspects of Tekkerstv will run alongside the performance analysis app, for example, player performance reports can be posted with videos on Tekkerstv. Additionally, if you register for one product you automatically have access to both products as they will have the same user dashboard.
Everyone analyses player performance. Professional clubs have very detailed and expensive performance analysis software that they use to assess a player. I thought this process could be simplified and accessible to everyone.
Scouts and coaches get asked all the time what can my son/daughter do to improve. This app very easily and quickly explains exactly that. The app allows the user (parent/player/coach/scout) to grade a player over the 5 key areas (Technical/Tactical/Physical/Psychological/Lifestyle). Each area is optional. The player is graded between 1-5. The grades are then collated and transferred to produce a report which then highlights the player’s strengths and weaknesses.
The user can complete a detailed report or quick report. A quick report won’t take more than a minute on a touch screen. The detailed report will take about 5 minutes and separates each area in to 8 sub-areas so creating a much more detailed profile. A players profile/reports are constantly updated as more reports are filed to create an overall picture of a player’s performance and progress. This allows users to track progress over time identifying areas for improvement. Reports can also be triangulated. This means that you can connect with another user who has carried out a report on a player and these reports can be joined to create an overall picture. Coaches/Managers can also quickly log player pitch time and their positions to track this over the season.
Additionally, there is also a match analysis feature where you can create your own detailed profile of a player’s performance through pass completion, shots etc. Basically, your own opta stats for a player/players performance.
We are presently is discussions with a top premier league club to bespoke this app for their grassroots scouting. However, we feel the apps real appeal is to those in grassroots football. The potential for this app to inform, educate and communicate information about player performance is huge.
If coaches, scouts and players want to follow the apps progress and find out more they can follow us on twitter @sspfootballapp and @TekkersTV
Also, please have a look at the Tekkers TV website http://www.TekkersTV.co.uk
FA Coach Mentor Mike Nolan has kindly allowed us to share his thought provoking coaching resource titled “taking the lid off the tin”. In the article, Mike details how coaches should dive deeper into a session topic when planning sessions ‘The Future Game’ – Taking the lid off the tin MN – have a read and let Mike know what you think via his Twitter page @coachingboard
Saul, thanks for agreeing to share your coaching journey and views with coachingfamily.com. To start with, could you give us an overview of your background in coaching? Where did you start out and what led to you doing the work you do today?
At University I was captain of the football team, a team mate of mine had spent a summer coaching out in America, this really appealed to me, I meant to go out there for the summer after graduating, I loved it so much I spent two years out there. I was coaching for 3, some times 6 hours a day, that time was invaluable in developing my coaching style and understanding the pace and rhythm of a session which I believe is vital.
Who would you say has had the most influence on your coaching career so far? Are there any coaches or people outside football that inspire you?
I was fortunate enough to work under Tim Bradbury at Noga Soccer in New York. I hadn’t taken any coaching qualifications previously so I was a blank page. He is a real innovator and my coaching philosophy and methodology that I developed under him has stayed pretty much with me to this day.
When I Returned to England I was lucky enough to get a coaching position at Spurs academy, working with Danny Buck and Chris Ramsey really took my coaching to another level, they helped develop me into a coach of Elite Players.
I’m fortunate enough to now work at a world class academy and I’m surrounded by World Class coaches and can’t help but be inspired everyday.
You have had great success running PDA 1 to 1 football coaching sessions in the London area, what do you feel are the main benefits of 1 to 1 coaching for young footballers?
I get asked this question a lot. 1on1 training benefits players of all abilities.
In my 10 years of running PDA Football 1on1 Coaching I have developed players for the Academies of Arsenal, Chelsea, Aston Villa Spurs, Norwich and more. They have also gone on to sign Pro and play in the Premier League. I’m also immensely proud to have my former players represent their countries including England, Northern Ireland and Jamaica. This success has been down to developing technically excellent players with a programme that helps them be masters of the ball, dominate 1v1 and develop explosive dynamic moments with the ball. When working with older players I like to do a lot of position specific training. I have found this to be extremely effective particularly when players are going for trials at Pro Clubs.
I can’t stress enough the importance of individual technical practice if players want to play at a high level. Players should be doing at least 20-30 minutes a day of technical work if they want to be professional footballer. Working with a 1on1 technical coach helps stretch players and develop their technical game, they can then take this into their games and team practices. This is deliberate practice! People criticise un-opposed or semi-opposed practice. In my opinion they don’t really understand elite sports development. If your not master of the ball you have no chance, technique is the base from which all football comes. If you look at any top performing athlete in the world, Ronaldo, LeBron James, Rafa Nadal, all these guys are spending hours developing and mastering their technique.
The trick is as a coach to make the training stimulating and enjoyable. You need repetition to master and develop any skill, its how you package and deliver it. its our job as coaches to inspire and make our sessions challenging but also enjoyable.
Tell us about your new venture, My Personal Football Coach? It’s a fantastic concept. What’s the aim?
My Personal Football coach.com has been growing in my mind for the last few years. I wanted to create a world class technical programme that players and parents could access from anywhere in the world. This is a ‘how to, manual’ for developing the essential techniques needed to be an Academy and a Professional Footballer. The site is in effect a virtual 1on1 football coach.
The site is broken down in to essential techniques and then individual practices to master them. I will also be giving users weekly technical hints and tips and video blogs to support them in their development. Users can also choose to upload their clips and we will analyse them and in a live video chat give them a tailor made programme.
I think there is a big information gap in terms of how to develop players technically for Academy and Professional football. A lot of parents and players contact me wanting to know what they should be doing. The idea of this site was to be a support mechanism for all these people. Being their online 1on1 coach.
As youth coaches, and as a nation we speak a lot about developing more technically outstanding young footballers, but how should we go about actually doing it?
The simple answer to that is to focus more on technique. What does that mean? Spend more time on working on first touch, playing with both feet, introducing players to turns and dribbling skills and ensuring they get these into their muscle memory. 1v1 challenges and lots of SSG’S.
I am a foundation phase specialist with nearly 10 years experience of working in Premier League Academy football. Developing technique at an early age is vital, the older a player gets the more difficult it becomes.
If we can support players at 8-11 year olds we have a really opportunity of changing that players DNA for the better. By that I mean stretching them technically and mentally. Develop positive movement patterns that will stay with them for the rest of their footballing life and most vitally helping them in becoming two footed.
Every season we see a new trend develop in the professional game as top coaches and managers attempt to outwit each other, how can we, as youth coaches, stay ahead of the game and prepare our players for the future game? Is it possible to predict how the game will look in 10 years time?
I think think the English game will be in a much healthier position in 10 years. The quality of player coming through the academy systems in this country is very high, we have now fortunately got some great people working also in the FA youth set up under Gareth Southgate.
As a coach its vital to have an open mind or Growth mindset, to borrow from Dweck. Don’t get stuck in your ways or a routine. Stay fresh, open to new ideas and what other people can teach you. If your going to your session and just going through the motions, then that’s a problem. I work full time in football and coach everyday, I have to keep being reflective and ensure I’m challenging myself and more importantly the players.
How do you like to educate yourself as a coach? Everyone is different, what works for you?
I try and see as many other top quality practitioners as possible, I’m fortunate to work at one of the best Academies in the country so I have plenty of opportunity to watch and learn from other great coaches. I am also lucky enough to visit Ajax regularly, watching Michel Hordijk the foundation Phase Lead and Skills Coach is a real inspiration.
I also try and watch top players as much as possible, whether in live games or training. I’m interested in the technical assets of elite performers and how they achieve success on the pitch, I then try to replicate this in my individual sessions.
To finish off, what do you see yourself doing in 10-15 years time and how will you go about achieving your aims?
10-15 years I would like to be Lead Coach of the Foundation Phase where I am currently or I would like to be working for a federation or a governing body. Supporting technical development in players on a national level. I am extremely passionate about player development and the best way to support and create elite players.
All I can do is keep learning and keep developing. Working with elite and aspiring elite players on a daily basis really helps, also now I have been doing this for 10 years I have seen a complete player development cycle. Seeing this again and creating a greater understanding will really help.
Make sure you check out the great work Saul does at mypersonalfootballcoach.com and follow him on Twitter @MyFootballCoach
Harry Watling is an inspiring young UEFA B Licensed coach from South London who has made great strides in the game in a relatively short space of time. Harry has worked in top pro club academies as well as playing a part in setting up, and running, Advanced Player Development. A coaching academy where young players are given expert academy coaching and pushed towards achieving their potential with regular games against top professional academies. Here, Harry gives us an insight into his journey, APD and his thoughts on the national game. Make sure you check out http://www.advanceplayerdevelopment.com especially if you are a coach based in South London.
Firstly Harry, tell us a bit about you and your background in coaching young footballers. How did you get to where you are today?
I started relatively young (14). I was still aspiring to make it as a player but knew I had more talent in “Teaching “ rather than playing. I managed to identify a real top coach who delivered clubs in my local area. I would run from school down to his sessions and sit and watch and take notes every day. If he wanted cones picked up or anything , no problem I was learning so much. At 15 he offered me a PT Job assisting him. After going on my work experience and being exposed to the pro club environment, I knew what I wanted to do ! At 16 I passed my Level 1 in coaching and began to deliver after school clubs and team training by myself. I took over all the clubs I used to sit and watch and ran the small business myself. At 17 I passed my level 2 and was coaching a lot, getting as many hours in as I could. At 18 I passed my UEFA B License and then things really started to lift off from there. I was hired by A top Premier league club to work in one of their satellite centres once a week. For me this was unbelievable as I was so proud to have my kit and be a part of a huge brand at such a young age. At 19 I was invited into the academy for one session a week assisting the u10s . I was asked to help look after the pre academy U8s group also which was a huge learning curve for me as they are such a key age group! From their I didn’t look back and was asked to work with various age groups as cover etc . At 22 I was working for the club 5 sessions a week with the 9-11s and head coaching the satellite centre I started off in. Moving on I was given an age group which was a wonderful experience for me, playing week in week out and seeing my group develop with each experience.
What drives you as a coach, what makes you do what you do?
I feel I have something to offer. So if I can help I will. Regardless of age and or ability, if I can pass on something worthwhile to a person then I will try as best I can to do so with the correct manner and best delivery possible varied to their age.
You co-own APD (Advanced Player Development) in South East London, give us an idea of what APD is all about and what you are trying to achieve?
At APD we would like to try and bridge the gap between Grassroots football and Academy football. We want to try and offer the Grassroots players the same exposure to the best coaching, equipment and drills that the academy boys receive. We train on a Friday and try not to clash with any team training nights so we can give the players an extra edge in their week of learning.
Grassroots clubs are really seeing the benefits of what we are doing as we also try and filter players into their clubs to give them the best opportunity to field as many teams on a game day as possible.
What types of activities do your sessions at APD involve, how are your sessions structured?
We feel that we are unique in how we deliver our style of learning. The sessions are structured in stations; we have 1 coach per station and 6/7 running at once. We see the players for around 8 minutes per station and really try and keep within their attention span and where their enthusiasm for the drill is at its peak.
As you mentioned, you play against pro clubs academies regularly. How many of your boys at APD have been scouted to go for trials at a club?
Up to this stage we have funded so many players who were without a GR club into many reliable local GR set ups. On the Pro club front we have now had 20 + players go in on a 6 week trial basis and have had 12 players signed.
This for us shows that we are helping children find their level as best we can.
Away from APD, how do you view the state of the national game? Are we that far behind the Dutch, Germans and Spanish players?
Listen! I have had the pleasure of going on numerous European tours and tournaments with top top players from our academy system. We are NOT behind at all. This is a myth that the media have created. In fact the boys I have had the privilege of taking over the years have been 9/10 technical superior and tactically more adaptable than most foreign opposition. We played with a high tempo , quality and style. The problem is between 18-21.
There simply is not enough opportunity. Its as simple as that , the games programmes dry up , they are not real, they lack an edge and when it comes to first team opportunity’s we seem to lack belief in fuelling out first teams with our youthful talent. The Europeans over take us because they get a chance earlier , and from 18-21 they will harness their skills in a faster more physical environment and become matured in this a lot easier as they exposed earlier.
How would you improve the standard of coaching young players receive in this country?
I feel their has to be a clearer understanding from all in “What they need “ and “When they need it”. You bypass the key lessons and mistakes they MUST make as a younger player. The Barcelona model (First team) is an end product to what was a long journey of mastering the 1v1, attacking and defending, then using team mates and sharing the ball , lending it , making clever runs to disguise team mates deliberate intentions of skill. You cannot simply turn up and ask a 9 year old to play off of 2 touch like Iniesta and expect him to develop his all-round footballing brain and game. The right things at the right times are key. Don’t produce SAFE players who don’t take risks . Instil a fearless attitude by viewing mistakes as a learning tool.
How do you keep yourself educated as a coach?
I never stop listening; football in England has some outstanding people working within it. The internet is a wonderful recourse , but don’t stop going out there and watching. I travel to Holland a fair bit and like some of their stuff, but at the same time there are smaller nations who have some fantastic people working within, Malta for example !
I try to get to games early and watch arrival activity’s , sit near dugouts and listen to messages from staff, take notes during games now and then.
Finally, What tips would you give coaches who are just starting out on their coaching journey?
Never ever think you know enough! You don’t know what you don’t know. Get out there and listen watch and participate in as many good , bad and ugly sessions as you can. Sometimes a poor session can leave you with a valuable message or lesson in How not to do something.
Be sure to follow @APDfootball on Twitter
If you are a member of the FA Licensed Coaches Club (FALCC), you will know that to maintain your licence as a coach you need to do a certain amount of FA CPD hours each year. FA Level 1 coaches need to complete a minimum of 3 hours while FA Level 2 and above need to complete 5 hours minimum, this can be achieved through attending FA coaching courses or specific CPD events such as the FA Licensed Coaches Club Conference.
The FA and The FALCC must be commended on what they have achieved in their aim to professionalise coaching in England. The FALCC website is an outstanding resource for youth football coaches, however – does all CPD need to be completed as logged hours through the FA?
Absolutely not, is the simple answer.
Coaches in the modern game need to be proactive, we need to look after ourselves and push ourselves to develop and educate each other. We believe that coaches, no matter what level you work at, should be exploring as many different types of CPD as possible in order to help expand on the fantastic knowledge and guidance the FA provide on their CPD and coaching courses.
So, how do you take charge of your CPD? What exactly can you do?
Many coaches believe that CPD is expensive and difficult to fit into their hectic schedule. But, Have you been out to watch other coaches at your club (or another club) work? Have you organised a coaches get together to share ideas and good practice within your club? Have you looked through YouTube at all the examples of coaching and coach education on there? These are all inexpensive examples of taking charge of your CPD while also working around your busy day or week.
There are of course other ways of educating yourself as a coach that require a little investment. For example, using coaching websites like The Coaching Manual or Inside Soccer. These websites provide high quality video of top coaches working with their players. The Coaching Manual also offer podcasts with relevant well known names in youth development, they offer session plans, nutritional advice and a coaching forum. All very useful for a small fee paid yearly. There are free options, many coaches run their own blog or website, Dan Wright, Michael Worthington, Hugo Langton and Ben Bartlett, to name a few. All sites include fantastic content, some downloadable information and great insights into how they all work.
Reading books and coaching publications is a very effective way of educating yourself on various coaching and related topics. There are several fantastic coaching books available at very affordable prices by coaches that use Twitter, We featured Ray Power’s “Making the ball roll”, others include books by Gary Curneen “The modern soccer coach 2014” or “The way forward” by Matt Whitehouse. There are many, many books available on Amazon that will help you develop as a coach. Away from the game, there are several topics you can read up on such as leadership, the acquisition of skill and working with different learning styles to help you improve as a coach. As well as football/soccer related books it is also worth reading into other sports such as Rugby, Basketball or American Football.
Look out for information on coaching conferences too. Inspire Football Events are now running coach education conferences nationally which involve guest speakers talking on various coaching topics from tactical periodization to football psychology. Don’t forget the FALCC, if you are a licensed coaches club member you can get discounted tickets for the three day event at St Georges Park just before Christmas.
Sometimes, simply engaging in conversation on Twitter (@CoachingFamily) can provide useful CPD for coaches. We share a lot of fantastic content sent to us by coaches on a daily basis. It is your choice whether what is shared is useful to you or not.
It is a general perception that many professional football club academies are very closed door organisations. This is not necessarily the case, we must understand that professional academies only have a certain amount of staff and organising visits for grassroots coaches can be difficult as the coaches are very busy people with the increase in paperwork they need to do off the coaching pitches now due to the EPPP. I have been lucky enough to have met with some very open coaches at different clubs across England myself, and learned a great deal from each club I have been to. It is always worth asking the question, otherwise the answer will always be no. I know many clubs in the UK are now running grassroots coach education evenings/weekends which are normally free (some do charge a fee). Examples of clubs experimenting in this type of coach education include Wolves, Swansea, Chelsea, Manchester United, Celtic, and Cardiff. Liam attended an event at Wolves academy last season and came back with some brilliant insights into the great work Dan Bolas and his team do at the academy there. (Resources from that trip are available on this site).
We hope this piece will inspire you as youth coaches to get out there and avoid simply relying on the FA for coach education. Take charge, get out there, watch and speak to other coaches, research, read and never stop learning. We are key people, as coaches, in helping to develop better technical and tactically aware players in this country. Educate yourself so you can better understand and educate the players you work with.