TCM Technical Director Paul Bright on the Principles of Play

The Coaching Manual's new series of content focuses on the Principles of Play, which make up the bedrock of coaching in our sport. But why are they so important? Why do coaches need to understand how to teach them to their players? We spoke to UEFA A Licence coach Paul Bright to hear his thoughts.

Aug 31st 2022

Written by The Coaching Manual

As we begin to release our new content series centered around the Principles of Play, we caught up with our Technical Director Paul Bright ahead of a recent coaching session at Avro FC in Manchester, to learn more about what this new content means for players and coaches.

The new sessions:

Paul on: The Importance of the Principles of Play

"The Coaching Manual has done a lot of work around the POP over the last few years. We've been involved with national governing bodies and coach educators from across the globe, and there are some fantastic courses being delivered. However, we feel like sometimes the POP sometimes are not covered in enough depth. There's so much information out there now, it's important that coaches and players have the fundamental understanding of why we're doing the things we're doing.

"The Coaching Manual has made a conscious decision to provide information, knowledge, and content on the Principles of Play, because once coaches understand these principles, they can then tweak to whatever system or playing style that they wish. So step one, we need to understand the principles of the game and why the game is played in a certain way, and how individuals, teams, and units can meet those principles.

"The Principles of Play are the cornerstone of the game and how the game is played. If you look at any coach, at any level, they're all trying to achieve the principles of play with their team. You compare and contrast a Pep Guardiola to a Diego Simeone, very very different style of play, but Diego Simeone's team are still trying to address and meet the principles of play in order to win the game, score goals, and stop the opposition from scoring.

"So it's vital that coaches understand the principles of play, and if they don't understand the principles of play, any tactical system or structure could fail because they don't understand why they're doing it."

Paul on: Coaching Players the Principles of Play

"The biggest compliment your players can give you as a coach is that when you step away, they play the same way. Because that shows that they truly understand. Of course, the starting point is the coach. The coach has to lay the framework down, the standards down, how they want to play, but then it's on the players. The players make the decisions in a game. So if the players understand penetration as a principle, then when it happens in a game and the opportunity to play forward is on, they will take that decision. So it's very important the players understand why we do everything we do."

Paul on: Principles of Play for the Youngest Players

"If we go and watch the youngest players the first thing they do is bunch together around the ball. That's the biggest complaint that we want to fix first. Guess what - that's a principle of play called creating space. They may not be able to understand and comprehend all of them, at the youngest age groups, but there's nothing wrong in referencing the principles of play for a later date.

"Your first thing as a coach is to check for understanding by letting them play, observing them, and asking them to repeat what they've done. The big thing for me is 'don't tell me, show me'. Once players understand the principles of play, it actually gives them the freedom to be creative. That's where we want to get to as coaches for our players."

Paul on: Martin Hunter

"Martin's worked at every level of the game, he's been there, seen it and done it. Martin delivering the sessions on The Coaching Manual is a fantastic advert for how to deliver the Principles of Play in a simple and effective way. If you can transfer terminology and information into its simplest form for your players to understand then you're an effective coach and I think Martin does that very very well."

Paul on: The Coaching Manual

"The MO of The Coaching Manual has always been 'Get the knowledge, pass it on'. We have the knowledge on the platform. We don't want to tell anybody what to do, but we are providing best practice. If you don't have time, if you're a brand new coach, use our sessions, follow our sessions, because you get to see experienced academy coaches, Premier League coaches, professional coaches delivering these topics. Coaches are always taking ideas off each other, and implementing it into their own. That's the name of the game. Take whatever you like from a Terry Moore, a Martin Hunter, a David Moyes... take whatever you can from them.

"Number one it's got to be appropriate for the age and ability for the players that you're coaching and two, you've got to understand it as well. We produce guides, written articles, videos, interviews, alongside our sessions, so you can go as deep as you want into it, but if you don't have time to do that, my biggest thing would be to follow the season plan and trust the process. The season plans we have on our site have been vetted and proven to work."

Get the Coaching Manual for YOUR Club

We help thousands of clubs and coaches coach better every day - with professional tools and educational resources, as well as broadcast-quality video sessions from some of the best coaches in the game.

We also bring your club's curriculum and philosophy together in one place to give you the ability to communicate with your coaches and players at the click of a button, and work toward your common goals.

We also offer year-round support with dedicated account managers to support you on your journey. Enquire now!

Start your journey to becoming
a better football coach today

With plans to suit everyone, The Coaching Manual is the perfect resource for soccer coaches who want to improve their understanding of coaching and create a first-class soccer learning environment for their players.

Sign up for free