Last season’s FA Cup triumph over Chelsea was supposed to herald the start of something special for Arsenal Football Club and Mikel Arteta. Instead, it's the Blues who have taken a huge step forward under the influence of Thomas Tuchel, with a return to the FA Cup final one year on and a UEFA Champions League final in their wake. Arsenal meanwhile have spectacularly regressed toward mediocrity, hovering in and around the likes of Leeds, Everton and Aston Villa.
In my early days of coaching, I picked up very quickly on the fact that players developed an affinity for positions that they played more often. Therefore sometimes when a positional change became necessary, simply playing the player in that position more regularly allowed the player to develop greater confidence and affinity for playing in that position. These effects occurred even when the player started out by dreading the role and thinking themselves to be ill-equipped to perform there. In psychology, this is called the "mere exposure effect". Quite simply, by having more exposure to something, one's motivation, desire and enjoyment of that thing can often be elevated to higher heights. This is relevant for both players and coaches. But how? Here is why this phenomenon is relevant for both coaches and players and how they can use an understanding of the effect to further their craft.
Many coaches often add restrictions to games. Restrictions like needing to complete three passes before the team can score or players being locked into different zones on the field can be valuable to teaching certain topics to young players. But restrictions need to be used wisely. Instead of restricting behaviours, coaches should look to encourage behaviours and do so more carefully through encouraging something to happen, rather than restricting it. In this article I will outline why restricted games should be more scarcely used, and why the term 'conditioned game' should possibly have a change of meaning to urge coaches to encourage the behaviours of their players in games without restricting their players.
Communication is one of the most important skills for young players learning their trade in the beautiful game to develop. Communication is not just all about players shouting at each other and calling for the ball. It goes far beyond that to non-verbal communication, body language, and even knowing when not to communicate. Here are some of the key words and phrases that young players can communicate to their teammates during games.
Every athlete is different. Every athlete has a unique set of characteristics, behaviours, dispositions and traits that make them who they are and can directly affect their ability to perform. Managing these different personalities can be a daunting task for any sport manager, coach or leader, particularly in a team setting where twelve to eighteen conflicting personalities may require managing.