Coach with Child

Training Poor Practice

Kent FA urges coaches to not join in when training young players

We want to make it clear that until all players are over the age of 16, adults should not take any part in a training session or warm-up. Joining in a training session or pre-game warm-up is now indicative of coaching from a previous era and should not happen for two clear reasons.

Firstly, it puts the safety of young players at risk. There have been numerous incidents over the last 12 months of children being accidently injured. As adults, we have a duty of care to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of our young players. Any involvement in the session breaches this. This includes participation in any small sided game or practice.

Kent FA Coaches Joining In Infographic

One incident this year saw a 34 year old male join in a match at the end of a session to make up numbers in his U13 training. He was not being overly physical but in the heat of the moment, one of the players slide tackled him and the coach came down on the player and broke his hip. The coach was subsequently sued and had to find over £10,000 in legal fees.

During the close of the season last year, three separate ‘presentation days’ were either abandoned or severely disrupted because of injuries to young players caused by parents and coaches participating in a game. The advice from these clubs that they have asked us to pass on is that it is simply not worth it.

Secondly, in addition to the safeguarding responsibility adults have, joining in also takes away a learning opportunity for young players. Every touch the coach has is one that is being taken away from the players.

An example will be players laying the ball into the coach who lays it off for the players to shoot. We would like coaches to consider who gets the most touches of the ball in that situation. It is, of course, the coach. An improved model would be for a midfielder to lay the ball off, as they will be doing during a game.

If you have odd numbers at the session and are looking to play a game then simply have a magic player who is always on the team that has possession, encourage the team with more players to shoot with their first touch or put a ball on a cone and they must score by knocking it off. There are many innovative ways that you can improve your session, rather than joining in.

Fortunately, the number of coaches involving themselves in training and warm-ups is reducing thanks to education and a change in culture across our game. Joining in is now indicative of coaching from a previous era.

We strongly encourage you to let the players play and have created a sharable infographic to spread the message.

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