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Hi,I have taken on my first U11 football team and?

Hi, I have taken on my first U11 football team and we are building a squad from scratch for all comers, we have picked up some good players with a few who have hardly ever kicked a ball. I have always promoted everyione is welcome but it seems some of the better players are now making comments that they wont stay if the lesser players continue! What do i do?

i too coach at u11's and try to promote the attitude of helping each other and the team being more important than the player, if it is a case of being a real attitude problem then i personally would hold my hands up and say fair enough as i don't want anyone to be unhappy while they play for our team feel free to leave if thats how you feel....your team may benefit in the long run even if you have lost one or two of the "better players" i wonder how the players that aren't as gifted feel when they hear the better players complaining, i would rather coach players that want to learn every time rather than having a team at this age group that only thinks of many players do you have?? maybe you could have two teams running so that players can learn and grow at the right level and in the right team for them..either way best of luck hope it gets sorted for you


Keep the ones who really want to play and let the ones with bad attitudes leave.  Desire is a rarity, skill can be coached.


Hi Steve, look... In my opinion it is important what do you want to do:

1) If you want to build a team, a good one in 2,3 years you should talk to the boys that are playing good and let them know that they have to be patience, and to understand the other players who aren't so good, to help them. After that if the talented boys don't want to play any more you should let them go to other teams that have only talented, good players, and you can focus on a team with players who aren't so talented and it will be your job to teach them, to train them but of course it will take time. 

2)  If you want to coach a good team right now, you should make some tests  and keep the players who pass them...

In my personal opinion you should look at option number 1.

Have a nice day and good luck!

I have a similar situation with a very mixed group of boys, some of whom are very good while others still struggle with basic passing and controlling the ball. To help address this I have worked hard on creating a coaching structure which enables me to split the group in two. This structure enables me to oversee the more advanced training for the experienced boys while ensuring that we still work closley with those who need help with the basics. Then we pull them all together to work on some drills but again ensure that the expectations from the various individuals are clearly pointed out.

You could run two completely different teams but if your coaching structure allows I would keep them as a single squad just work on them slightly differently to enable them to grow at their own pace. Unless the more experienced one are truly disruptive I would try and encourage them to share their knowledge and skills while also using your skills as a coach to try and close the gap between the two groups.

I have recently had some great success by moving some of my less advanced kids into the advanced group as they have made great progress. Things won't change overnight and it's a gradual thing but it is worth while for you and all the players.

Either way I hope you get it sorted.

maybe remind the more experienced players that they WILL one day be in a team where they are NOT the better players, and that they might one day appreciate the help from a more skilled and experienced player.

I have a similar problem in my team because ive got two different kind of players very good ones or very bad ones, ive got none in the middle.

I dont have a problem where the better players are talking about leaving but I think in the match itself it does effect some of the better players playing with the weaker players.  The better players see the weaker players playing and the better players try to cover for them to much and they get tired easier and they just get frustraed.

I find it more difficult because we have a joint managment at are team and we both disagree with how things should be done, the other manager says if the weaker players turn up for training week in week out they should play just as much as the others.  But I think because we do have so many good players we should go get the win and give the weaker players as much time as possible. we can both see eachother is right but its about getting the balance right.


You have a great attitude. Weak players make it much harder for a coach - it is even harder to practice because you have kids of different skill levels. My experience is that players (even the weak players) and parents prefer winning to losing and that creates pressure on the coach. In U14 recreational I was assigned 2 players who were brave but VERY slow and unskilled. The other coaches didn't want those players and even players on my team who had played with them before were worried and thought we would lose all our games. Those 2 players were smart and brave, but very slow, and couldn't dribble or pass very well. One was small and one was overweight. Because they were slow but brave I decided to put them at Left Fullback and Right Fullback. When we attacked, I let my strong Center Fullback Push Up but made the 2 slow FBs Defend Deep (stopping at the Penalty Box line) because they were SOOO slow. They couldn't dribble or pass the ball under pressure so I had them just clear the ball.Those boys were an inspiration because they were brave and tenacious, and they did great as long as they stayed deep, and their teammates respected them and were glad to have them on our team. When they tried to Push Up, the opposing Forwards blew by them like they were statues. The point is, those 2 players were successful because I put them in a position where they could be successful. I don't know if that is a possibility for you. I think the other best positions for weak players are at Righrt and Left Mid, and in my experience you can't put a timid player at Fullback. You probably can't use width in attack so think about adding depth, like a 3-2-3-2 formation. Try drills like "Dribble Across a Square" and "Shoulder Tackle and Strength on the Ball" that work for players of differing skill levels. You can find them at SoccerHelp. Good luck!!!

Try 'peer coaching', give the better players some responsibility to bring on those with less ability.  As long as you oversee the conduct of the players it is possible to utilise the better players for demo's and then break off into pairs or small groups and they coach one another. Bring the players back in every so often to obtain feedback on the practice and add your observations.  This can be quite successful depending on the maturity of the players, practice becomes less 'coach led' and more guided discovery and can lead to deeper learning.  The players often find instructions from their team mates less confusing than the coach.   

Hi, I'm in a similar position, although my team is U9 girls. You need to get a mixture of training routines, have them all doing the same thing but slightly change it to make it harder for the better players ie. smaller ball, less touches etc. That way they all feel they're doing the same thing but the better players are still being challenged.

As for the matches, we play 5 aside and I have 10 girls, (out of the 10 we have 3 exceptionally good players, 4 of medium ability and 3 who aren't as good but slowly improving) I always try to keep at least 2 of the better players on whenever 1 of the least skillful girls are on, it's about finding the right balance and playing the less abled ones in a position they're comfortable with and where they can be covered if needs be. My girls have made massive improvements have a great team spirit. The main thing is to give all the players approx an equal amount of match time.

*"Joe Doyle"* I think your joint manager has the correct idea, doing it your way could leave you without enough players in future. (Just my opinion)

Steve I respect what your saying and as I said I agree with the other manager completely I see both sides of it, but ill explain abit more detail why am thinking the way I am.


I dont care how bad or good a player is as long as I see them trying am happy, at the time I wrote my last comment I had 3 players I would refer to as my weaker players, these weaker players turned up week in and week out for training but dont like to train, they refuse to do the session properly and do nothing but moan about this that and the other and both me and the other manager have tried working on this and nothing seems to work with them.  When we bought new players in they didnt make them welcome like the other players, we done everything we could to get these 3 players to improve but nothing seemed to work.


But as of late 2 of the 3 players have realy improved there attitude is changing week by week and am enjoying teaching them and am looking to try and play them as much as possible, and there improving week by week and thats great to see.


The other weaker player just isnt interested in training, playing or mixing with the other players and it causes more problems in the team than anything,  She doesnt turn upto training on time (45 Minutes late at times) and turns up at matchs at half time because she cant get out of bed which she and her dad openly admit,  We have tried mixing her with different players in the group and she causes arguments with the others and its her causing the problems, we motivate her everytime she plays whether it be training or in a game.  But the other manager continues to play her and its causing more problems than anything with other players and parents on the touchline.


I think what am trying to say is if there not trying they shouldnt play,  if all the other players in the squad are turning up to training week in and week out and are working hard they should get to play.


Since my last message aswell we have took a few new players on who arent the greatest players and I dont think they will be but they turn up and try which is alls I ask for so I dont want you to think am only interested in winning and putting my best players on because thats not the case, having won a lot of tournaments the best moment of the coaching came when one of the weaker players parents said youve improved her as a player and given her more confidence.


I hope this explains it a bit better


Thanks for the reply, when we first strated it was to give kids who were not being given a chance by other teams. Which meant our squad isn't the strongest but we have stuck with them and the improvement has been rewarding for all concerned. Training is always fun but informative and we now have a squad of 11 for our 9v9 season about to start and we have no prima donas in the side just children willing to do the best they can.

We have now had a few friendlies and though we have lost them they still come off smiling and looking forward to the next game win or lose, if i am honest i wish we could win every game but what has become more important is the kids enjoy just being part of team and being given a chance to play football!!

We will improve and as you also said when a parent comes up and says they have been up since 7a.m for a 10.00 am meet because they cant wait to take part in training or a game thats worth more than worth a win every day. Good Luck to you and your team

Thanks steve


We all want to win but as you said comments like that are worth more than a win.


Good luck for the season ahead!!!

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