Many managers in youth football are hindering the development of their players.
That is the opinion of Micah Hyde, the former Watford and Burnley player who earned 17 caps for Jamaica.
Hyde is now the Academy Manager at Dagenham and Redbridge as well as running his own coaching business – MH Technical Training.
I observed recently on LinkedIn that Hyde had some strong opinions about youth managers after he posted this in March: “I notice a lad by chance, approached the manager after the game, not the player. Introduced myself, and explained it's a real opportunity for the lad to gain a scholarship if I can have a look at him.
“I have still heard nothing back from him.
“Not the first time or the last these managers claim to want to help their players get noticed but really they just want to win on Sunday.”
This prompted me to approach Hyde for an interview and he was only too happy to expand on the deficiencies he sees at youth level.
Hyde believes that fear is a driving force among youth managers and coaches, with a team’s star men typically given preference over team-mates in a ‘win-at-all-costs’ environment.
“When developing young players, winning to me is secondary,” he explains. “Some coaches’ egos want to win so they drive the players that way. They fear losing their best players, because they might lose (matches). Some coaches don't have the foresight or knowledge of developing any players, they just fear losing their best players.”
A determination to hold on to the best players - often inhibiting their career prospects - coupled with a reluctance to develop the talents of others has formed a toxic combination.
Hyde believes many youngsters are not given adequate time, training or patience to develop, and the superior treatment of perceived ‘better players’ is proving damaging.
“This can be an unbelievable waste in developing potential and unearthing talent,” he continues.
“Imagine how many talented players would be produced if the focus was on them and they are given confidence to make mistakes, instead of accepting he is incapable of doing what any given better player at that time is doing, as I have seen from coaches.
“If you allow your better players to believe that they are so good and make exceptions for them, the others players will believe this and will stop developing and honing their skills.
“This is not any players’ fault, as they need guidance and understanding.
“I have found quite a few coaches that do not have the insight or mind-set to understand that, at all levels.”
Hyde though, believes there is some cause for optimism. He says he has seen some improvements at youth level in recent times, and explains his approach towards developing players.
“I'm starting to see changes in coaches’ and organisations’ approaches, which is good,” he continues.
“In my approach you must look closely and focus on players’ strengths. It's very important to allow young players to express themselves, always. It's my role as a coach to give them the tactical information and when to maximise it. This game understanding will give each player a chance of winning.”