How to instill confidence and belief - going from 9 a side to 11 a side

How to instill confidence and belief - going from 9 a side to 11 a side

Our under 12's have made the jump from 9 a side to 11 a side. We have entered a big city league were results are hard to come by. We play a super 1st half and lose it massively 2nd half, through heads down & fitness. Any suggestions on confidence boosting & training drills to help steady a ship. We are playing a 4 - 2 -3 - 1 formation.Yes we are getting a bit of negativity from the parents to, which does not help. Thank you in advance.

Football CoachCoach
Football CoachCoach

Speak to the parents and ask them to give nothing but encouragement before, during and after the game. Negativity from their parents can destroy morale!

If you're getting hammered every week try speak to the league about the possibility of being moved to a lower league

Also try sitting down and asking the players themselves if they think something should be changed, it won't help if they keep the things that frustrate them bottled up

Football CoachCoach

come down to there level, have a little bit of banter & joke then get them switched on ,tell them to relax & enjoy , support each other and let the ball do the work, i find playing 4 5 1 give them more shape and keeps them closer together to support each other ,to many coaches just want to win with the long ball game, thats teaching them nothing, my u14 side got hammered 19-1 by a academy team but was pleased my team passed & move where the other side was told to shoot from 30yds out shocking !

good luck

Football CoachCoach

i think if you are open from the start and set a realistic results for the team you will keep the lads heads up. so at the start of the half ask them to keep the score below 5 goals? no one likes losing but you get more our of losing then winning every game 10 nil. at half time talk to them again and if they have kept it to 5 nil then there is a result, i think people get way laid with results and not kids progression. the kids heads wont drop then either, i would also keep to a simple 442 as no one can cheat and leave a man. tell the kids whos man is who etc. after the game build it the result, maybe the next game get it down to 4 nil at half time and show the kids they are progressing. thinking you should drop down a league will be a step back wards.

Football CoachCoach

Steve do you think it's a good idea to set the players the target of trying not to concede more than 5 goals before half time? Do you not think that will have the opposite effect and lower confidence and belief as it shows you have a lack of confidence in them?

I agree that they should be set targets, I normally ask my u16's to set themselves targets during the game and believe that they will acheive them.

Ian MarshCoach, England

How about instead of outcome goals (such as the final score), why not set performance goals like each player making a set amount of completed passes each, or having at least 2 shots on target (for your forward player).

This way it stops the players obsessing about the scoreline and can hopefully lead to an improvement in their overall play.

If you are getting beaten week in, week out I agree with Luke about talking to the league to maybe go down a level.

Football CoachCoach

Definitely talk to the parents.  I agree w/Luke that this can kill morale.  You wanna nip that in the bud.

I'm not sure what "head down" means in ur initial post, but it sounds like you've identified, at least some what, what the issues are.  If they're having super 1st halves it sounds like they can compete in this league.  This is a great opportunity for your kids to learn how to problem solve, remain positive and remain cohesive as a team.  

If you haven't done so already, get clear on the key issues at hand.  Then create drills around those issues.  And make sure the kids remain focused on improving in those areas and not on the score line.  If improvements are made in these areas, it should be reflected in the score line anyway.  Either way, have them remain focused on improving and learning and less so on the results.

None of my kids like doing fitness.  Here's a fitness drill I use thats fun.   Set up cones for a suicide drill (that's what we call them in the States. Not sure if thats what u call them in England.  Lemme know if this is unfamiliar).  Split the group into 2 teams and have a pug goal set up just outside the drills.  The 2 teams do the suicides as a race.  Winner gets 2 point.  Then the winners get to shoot first from a set distance (3-4 yards).  Each goal is worth 3 points.  They compete first to 15 points or 20 or whatever u choose.  They will push each other through the fitness drill and compete over who shoots etc.  They don't see it as a conditioning drill at all.  You can vary the difficulty of it by having them shoot w/their weak foot, or the ball can't touch the floor before going in the net (chip shot), etc.

James spinkCoach, England

Rado, Heads down means low morale/beaten.

thanks for the suicide drill. We don't call them that in UK but great idea, thanks

Football CoachCoach

on the fitness make sure you are training longer than game time i find this helps with my under 12s.. we train once a week on wed for 90 mins and we play 60 min games.. and there fitness has shown in games were they were losing with 10/15 mins to go and win the game..

on the parents not much you can do now but at the start of next season have a meeting with them tell them its there job for match day to incourage and its your job to tell players what to do there not there and training nights to see what you are doing..

Abuadam Coach, Netherlands

Believe in them that they can do iT Will eventually set THE record. Winning a game Will be motivitianol for them. I always try to motivate THE team and THE individuals seperated. Sometimes iT works and sometimes we Will overruled by others that are better on THE moment. We speak about THE details. And try to fix them in training.
Answered using Sportplan on Mobile

Football CoachCoach

Always good to get tyhe kidsperspective sit  them down before a training session and ask them for their idea if what is going on. Then tweak training to cover those issues.

Login or Join Now for FREE to post your answer


  • search our library of 500+ football drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans


Use our expert plans or build your own using our library of over 700+ drills, and easy-to-use tools.



See the whole archive of questions.



  • search our library of 500+ football drills
  • create professional football coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested football plans

Sportplan App

Give it a try - it's better in the app

YOUR SESSION IS STARTING SOON... Join the growing community of football coaches plus 500+ drills and pro tools to make coaching easy.