Motivation is the most important factor in unlocking innate human potential, including developing young football talent. There are a number of key elements that should be considered when it comes to motivating young players.

1. Emphasize FUN especially at the younger ages. Give all developing players the freedom to explore and enjoy the game without interruption as much as possible.

Play is very important to young players, and the opportunity to pretend to be their favourite player, copying his movements and skills, can give them great enjoyment and satisfaction.Simplified small-sided games, in which all the players are heavily involved,are crucial. Everyone wants to play a central role in the game, and the traditional football games which are not appropriate to the age-group do not facilitate this.

For maximum motivational value, ensure that training is game-oriented, and not so much drill focused. The phrase drill is kill is very true! Or, as one of my friends pointed out, DRILLS BORE!

Ideally when 7 year old children are introduced to structured football games, they should be offered a game that entices them into a lifelong love-affair with football. It should resemble the small-sided games that children played long ago, “street football,” with little interference from adults and lots of variation.

Horst Wein’s 3v3 game on four wide goals –  – is an ideal introduction to football for young kids from 7-9 years of age. It has been called “The Revival of Street Football.” With over 30 different games, and 20 variations, this game will keep their interest while also offering them a comprehensive learning curriculum.
And more importantly it offers, more touches on the ball, more action, more shots and goals and ultimately – MORE FUN!

recognizes that playing is like breathing to children…
…necessary for their physical and mental well-being!

2. The feeling of being competent in training and during games at each stage of development is crucial in motivating young players. Experiencing success in actions that are age-appropriate, is vital to their ongoing enjoyment, giving them the necessary belief that progress is possible for them. This is why playing games that are too complex for their age is detrimental to the development of young players!

“Abilitiy is what you are capable of doing,
Motivation determines what you do,
Attitude determines how well you do it.”

3. A positive environment created by the coach, parents and all other adults, during tournament games and in training is highly motivational for young developing players. Praise and recognition of their efforts by adults, especially their coach can help them to flourish. Interaction, inclusion, and being valued should be part of their experience for all children in youth sports. The environment should facilitate playing with and making new friends, which is very important to children.

4. Parents and coaches should learn to encourage an “open mind-set” in kids, where learning is just as important as winning and life is seen more as a journey than a given destination.

Players need to realize that they are on a life-long upward path of improvement and skill acquisition and that it takes time to reach a certain level.

Praise effort more than results and achievements to teach them the value of applying themselves constantly.

Players should learn to enjoy playing the game itself and concentrate on their own performance rather than worrying too much about the scoreboard, which only inhibits performance.

Help players to realize that they improve at different rates and that their physical development often is uneven. Always make room for late-developers.

“Strive for progress, not for perfection.”

Help them to value obstacles and mistakes as important stepping stones for improvement, and to realize that all the great players learned from their mistakes and persevered through seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan