Respect League Coaching Standards


The Respect League is a positive environment where children can have fun and enjoy learning to play football free from adult interference and intimidation.

Silent sidelines We ask spectators to stand back from the pitches and, apart from clapping good play, to keep quiet.

Quiet touchlines We also ask coaches to remain calm and largely quiet during games.

Have done their game preparation in training
- Simply remind their players of the plan in the team talk
- Let the children play once they are on the pitch
- NEVER shout instructions (pass, shoot, pick it up)
- Don't tell each player where to be on the pitch
- Prompt players to think for themselves
- Give praise for trying new things (even if they fail)
- Encourage players if their heads drop
- Remain quiet most of the time and analyse the game
- Give accurate, useful, constructive feedback afterwards

Kick every ball and issue a stream of instructions
- Constantly re-organise the shape of the team ("Sam, goal side… Billy, out wide")
- Give negative feedback ("you should have… how many times have I told you?… that was rubbish…")
- Criticise players for trying new things ("not there… keep it simple… just get rid…")
- Commentate on the game like John Motson
- Sound like a fan on the terrace ("Go on… go on, all the way, yessss!!!!")
- Over-celebrate goals
- Encroach on to the pitch or move up and down the touchline
- Claim throw ins, corners and free kicks ("Red ball… c'mon ref, that's a push!)
- Question the referee's decision in front of players
- Encourage player aggression ("Get stuck in!!!")

Bad, 'over-coaching' makes your players coach dependent. How do they play when you don't tell them exactly what to do?

Bad coaching also changes the atmosphere, creating aggressive, high-pressure games which takes away players' enjoyment and can upset and intimidate some children.

Children's football is not adult football. We shouldn't coach it like the Dog & Duck in the Sunday League.

We know that, like us, you love football. We know you invest lots of time and effort into your team. We know it's easy to get involved in the game…

But your role as a coach is NOT to drive your team to victory, it's to develop the skills and confidence of each player and the team. And the best way to do that is to stay calm, let the players play and let the game be the teacher.

You can get all of your ideas across in midweek training, but, on match days, please just let them play.


The aim of junior football coaching is NOT winning every game… it is player and team DEVELOPMENT.

Relax. the score is irrelevant. What matters is that the players gain experience and confidence.

Any coach can shout a stream of instructions to control the players to get a better result or a win… but a GOOD COACH allows players to make their own decisions, make their own mistakes and learn from them.

Experienced, confident players who can think for themselves will win many future games.

The more mistakes, the more they learn. Stopping them making mistakes by shouting instructions stops them learning.

Your tactics or advice to players should be done in training or in the team talk NOT during the game. You can reflect on the game with players afterwards.

So what can you SHOUT during the game?

Well, not much. You shouldn't need to. You should be too busy analysing your players' performance in order to give them accurate and positive feedback. Maybe take notes.

A few times in a match, a good coach might should out:

"Well done (child's name)" if the child has done something they haven't previously done (but not if they do that every week).

"Great effort (child's name)" if the move hasn't come off but you want to encourage them to keep trying.

"Heads up (child/team name)" if they are looking downhearted.

If particular players lack confidence or tend to panic on the ball…

"Make a good decision" helps them to focus but doesn't tell them what to do.

"Relax" might help them to compose themselves before shooting at goal.

If the practiced team shape has gone completely…

"Shape" is a single-word trigger that makes each player remember where they should be

But the loudest thing you should be able to hear is the children themselves. The less you shout, the more space there is for the children to hear themselves think and to hear each other.