Giving young players confidence to try new things

Every footballer needs to try new things on the pitch to improve, but young players may lack confidence to do so. Kids Coach Naomi Richards tells us how we can help.

Sometimes we just have to go with our own intuition. No-one can tell us what to do.

Playing football for example. Someone passes the ball to us and we have to make a snap judgement of whether we are going to dribble with it for a while, pass to someone on our left or our right or, if we are relatively near the goal, to take aim and shoot.

Whether it is us or our children playing football it is the same quick thinking that needs to be done.

What we do know is that each game our child plays is going to be different. Not everyone in their team is going to be feeling the same as they did last week and your child may never have played against the opposition before and so will not know their strengths and their weaknesses.

So what can we, as parents and coaches, do to help?

Well, we need to allow and trust our children to try something new if they need to during the game and they can only do this if they have the confidence to do it and are not afraid of making a mistake in trying out a new move.

We have a crucial role to play in giving children the confidence to express themselves on the pitch. Here are just a few things we can do to help:

* Praise and talk to them about what they are doing right;

* Explain that everyone makes mistakes and that it is better to try something new and not do so well than not to try at all;

* When they make a mistake discuss it. Get them to learn and grow from it;

* Put them back in the game so they move on from the mistake;

* Put them in a mindset of if they make a wrong judgement it does not make them a failure or an awful player;

* Don’t focus on their mistake – discuss and let go;

* As a parent or coach model how you deal with mistakes. Teach your children by showing them what you do.

Naomi Richards is The Kids Coach – a life coach for children. Her first book, The Parent's Toolkit, shares key life tools for you to help your children successfully navigate their own childhood problems and grow up into happy, confident and resilient young adults.

The Parent's Toolkit was described by The Sun as “clear and to the point... a must-read for parents”. It is published by Vermillion and is available to buy on

Put your questions to The Kids Coach

If you've got a question for Naomi or would like to hear advice on a particular topic relating to young footballers, please leave a comment below, email us at or tweet Naomi at @thekidscoach.

Whether it's about how we can take pressure off kids after a game, teaching them acceptance and tolerance of other members of the team or something completely different, tell us what you'd like to read about in Naomi's next column.

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