How to Better Understand your Players

As players are going through the early stages of development, their levels of maturity and technical ability can be very different to that of their peers, despite being similar ages. This article looks at why it’s important for coaches to understand their players' different levels of maturity and then provides some tips on how they can do this.

Aug 19th 2021

Written by The Coaching Manual

Players’ growth levels

Each player is unique in their own way, their bodies can grow at different rates and this can affect how they perform on the pitch. For instance, when players go through growth spurts this can affect their coordination and confidence in their own ability.

They may also have difficulty performing skills to the same level that they did prior to said growth spurts. Example:

They used to be proficient in running past defenders in 1v1 situations however they have now lost some power to accelerate, the coach can see the player is getting frustrated at their lack of success. What should the coach do?

Have a quiet word with the player and give advice such as ‘try and play a one-two around the defender instead’. This will then allow the player to work on their combination skills and hopefully benefit from the practice.

Players handle pressure differently

It’s important to recognise how different players behave in pressured situations, do they thrive or shy away? Knowing which way players sway can be useful in certain games or certain times in a game. Say if your team is going into a big game, players who don’t perform well under pressure may not be the best for selection. 

However, this doesn’t mean that they will never be able to perform when ‘the heat is on’. Pushing your players to the correct level in training and in games can help build their confidence and in turn help with their play when under pressure.

"If coaches fail to understand their player's age and maturity levels they are at risk of losing the players."

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