How to Coach the Modern Football Player

Engaging and getting the best out of players are perhaps the most difficult tasks facing coaches today, with footballers in this generation being very different to those of even a decade ago. So, what are the factors in which coaches must consider when developing players and helping them reach their potential?

Information surrounding tactics and training is now relatively easy to come by, however this does not mean that coaching is getting simpler. At every level of the game, a major challenge concerns player power and engagement, with the authoritative approach used traditionally no longer cutting it. Those using strict discipline are likely to hinder development and alienate players, rather than encouraging them.


With today’s youngsters not playing football on the streets until the late hours and having more at their disposal then ever before, coaches and players are likely to have different opinions surrounding hard work and dedication. However, in order to be successful, coaches must understand the generational differences, meaning that they must work harder and smarter in order to achieve their goals. So, what are the key personality traits of young football players today?


  • High in Confidence – Youngsters nowadays are more likely to have the confidence to question your ability as a coach, even if they are not doing so disrespectfully. As well as this, players are often hugely confident in their own ability, meaning that it can be difficult to illustrate areas for improvement.


  • Tech Savvy - Spending large amounts of time on social media and playing video games, young football players are likely to enjoy learning via similar platforms, with coaches nowadays having to tie this into their sessions.


  • Independence – Youngsters generally also enjoy their independence, meaning that motivating a team as a whole is a more difficult task. Individuals are likely to be motivated by different factors, meaning that coaches must get to know their players more personally in order to get the best out of them.


  • Expectant – Players expect results and they expect them quickly! Those who feel that they are putting in the required work will often expect a quick fix, as well as being commended for their actions. As a result, coaches must understand that patience levels are unlikely to be high, with players potentially becoming disillusioned quickly.



While many of these factors may be viewed negatively coaches, it is important to remember that youngsters today also have more potential than ever before. Athleticism and technical ability are just two of the areas in which players have improved significantly over recent years, however coaches must learn the best ways in which to extract such skills. As a result, any coaching philosophy must take into consideration the following points:


Regular Feedback – More individual conversations are required between coach and player, while feedback must also be more detailed, rather than simply using generic quotes surrounding maintaining work rate or the improvement of a particular skill.


Individualised Programmes – With today’s players having great objectives when it comes to football, coaches must produce specific programmes to meet their needs and maximise development. Training sessions should be position-specific and allow connections to be built between players, whilst also taking into consideration strategy and philosophy.


Fun – More than anything, the environment in which players find themselves in should be enjoyable, which will help to ensure that they want to work hard as both individuals and for the team. Coaches can inspire players with their high energy levels.



The major challenge for coaches today is how to communicate with players, whilst those who are able to adapt to situations having a good chance of being successful. Players should be viewed as individuals first and foremost, while it is crucial to try and develop strong relationships with those on your team.

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