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Steve Long

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Steve Long is CEO of InterSoccer, which offers football courses and holiday camps for two to 13-year-olds in Geneva, Vaud, Basel, Zug and Zurich. Steve first came to Switzerland in 2001 as an event and grassroots manager for UEFA, before co-founding InterSoccer in 2007. He loves all sports, especially football, snowboarding, tennis, golf and mountain biking. Originally from Nottingham, UK, he still supports The Mighty Reds - Nottingham Forest.

Link: www.intersoccer.ch

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A good coach will know how to put shy children at ease, photo by Alexia Linn

By Steve Long, InterSoccer

“I never wanted to be one of those dads who drags his son to football,” said a friend to me the other day. “Yet here I am.”

He watched frustrated as his five-year-old son ran around the outskirts of the pitch, played with a ball on his own, trailed after the sister of a classmate who was on rollerskates, and basically did anything possible to avoid taking part in the local club lesson.

“I used to be a football coach,” went on my friend. “I hated those dads who forced their kids to take part. What do you think I should do?”

I took a moment to think. While I’ve experienced pushy parents trying to force their child to do a sport he or she is not comfortable with, my friend didn’t seem like one of them.
Many children are reluctant or shy the first time they try football. No matter how much they enjoy the lesson once it starts, for the first few times it is likely to take some careful persuasion for them to get ready and raring to go.

But at what point is it okay to have to employ negotiating skills to encourage their participation, and when should you call it a day and let them give up?

A key point to consider is your own reasons for wanting them to play. Is it because you think that once they get over their initial nerves they will enjoy and develop through the lessons, or is it because you like the idea of having a child who plays in a football team?

David Beckham famously has allowed his three sons to stop playing football, though he said it was “heartbreaking” to accept that they did not share his passion for the sport. Happily, his daughter is keen to continue.

good coach buddy

Buddy, a veteran InterSoccer coach

By Steve Long, InterSoccer

What does it take to make a good children’s football coach? 
Gone are the days when trainers used to think it was a good idea to focus only on the children with an obvious talent, and ignore the less natural or confident players. 

Now it is accepted that a coach’s job is to ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow their skills in a supportive and encouraging environment, thereby developing into confident and well-rounded young adults, whether or not they choose to play sports beyond grassroots level.

So what does it mean to coach Generation Z?
And how can you make sure you succeed as an outstanding coach? For many people their first experience of coaching is during adolescence, helping out at their local football club or grassroots organisation where they learned to play themselves.

However, just because you know how to play football, doesn’t mean you already have the soft skills needed to teach it.

If you are just starting out, whether as a teenager or perhaps as a parent helping at your child’s school, follow these principles of coaching and you can’t go wrong.

1. Know your football. Almost as soon as they start learning to play – and sometimes beforehand– many children love to watch live matches on television with their families. Help them to learn the rules of the game by discussing what they saw next time you meet them.

2. It goes without saying that to teach football, you have to play well. If you are no longer in a team, sharpen up any rusty skills by joining a friendly five-a-side and try to remember what it felt like to believe that one day you could end up playing for your country.

3. Have the patience to teach techniques from scratch. Good teaching is being able to explain something you have done thousands of times, at the right pace for someone who has completely fresh eyes and probably needs several attempts to understand the concept.