Learning to lead through sports coaching

Football coaching

Football is a game about making fast decisions – and executing them.

“You play football with your head, and your legs are there to help you”


Football is a fast-paced game incorporating countless random events and limitless complexity. Top players have the ability to rapidly incorporate information from a game scenario, make a decision based on it, and execute a technical action in response.

The other attribute they share is an ability to be comfortable in possession of the football even under extreme pressure.

When coaching football I aim to develop players with these critical skills, emphasising the mental ability required as much as the technical, with the goal of developing thinking athletes – and better people.

A licensed football coach jacket

I try to put game-based practices at the heart of my coaching. These recreate the randomness of the 11v11 game. They form endless permutations of in-possession, out-of-possession and transition scenarios. Most players of all ages will prefer a game to a repetitive drill anyway, so they make sure the ‘fun’ aspect of playing the game is always front and centre in any session.

I like to vary the rules and conditions of the game to bring the aspects in focus to the fore. This ensures plenty of repetitions within a realistic context that helps players develop in all aspects of the game.

I also follow the FA’s ‘four corner’ model (shown below), ensuring players are challenged and develop psychologically, socially and physically as well as technically and tactically. the four-corner model covers all aspects of the game under the headings of technical and tactical, physical, psychological and social. I try to include as many of the four corners as possible in each exercise, in each session.

Image of the FA four-corner model for football coaching

Interested in finding out more? Read about my approach to cricket coaching and coaching leadership skills.