The key to motivating your players

Young players are more motivated with confidence, but how do we keep them motivated and confident?

Dec 1st 2021

Written by The Coaching Manual

We all know that young players today are different from previous generations - they are growing up in a world full of distractions, with quick-fix entertainment just one reach-into-their-pocket away. This makes motivation harder to instil than ever - so how do we do it?

Technical development and how we motivate children

Players must be motivated to perform the tasks we are asking them to perform on the pitch, and - more importantly - of their own volition away from the pitch. Breeding these good habits comes from players feeling confident in their abilities.

If confidence is key, the challenge then is to create a feeling of confidence in every player, which is difficult because everyone is at different levels of development. If you're working with children with a limited or basic level of technical ability, there is no point asking them to do something that is too complicated for them. They will lose confidence as quickly as a child performing a task that is far below their level of technical ability will lose interest.

For instance, at under-6 or under-7 level soccer, the vast majority of players will have a very limited level of technical ability. There may be one or two players who stand out as particularly good at that level, but 99 times out of 100 they are self-motivated players who practise every day regardless of outside influence.


By giving children activities in which they can see their own progression, and from which they can see success, we start to build confidence. Simply put, confidence is generated by people who practice something, and have success at it.

How do we create this confidence?

It's really hard to create people who are self motivated, but if we combine a structure with some objectives, give children some praise, and add the secret ingredient of competition, that will eventually start to drive self motivation. What we are talking about here are children who take their own responsibility for practice because they see they are getting better and meeting their objectives.

Not every child can look across at the player next to them and gain confidence from being 'better' than them, but every player can be better than themselves at a task than the last time they attempted it.


Start with something they can work on and improve at, praise them for doing well at it, and watch their confidence grow. Coaches play a key role in building self motivation because the structure, objectives, praise, and competition are factors that come from outside - a player shouldn't be expected to become self motivated all on their own.

So how does technology feed into this process? How can technology support us as coaches?

There are many ways we can use technology to build confidence, encourage off-pitch practice, and drive motivation. Perhaps the most obvious way to build confidence by generating success is to introduce your players to TopTekkers.

TopTekkers is a player development app trusted by academies in the English Premier League and Major League Soccer, that rewards players for their progression through challenges centered around individual techniques.

Within the app there are more than 50 skills to master, all featuring professional video tutorials designed by a Premier League Academy coach. When players work to beat their own score, they are awarded in-app trophies and their improvement is clear to see in the real-time progression charts.

In 2019 a pilot scheme showed that 94% of players enjoyed using TopTekkers, while 100% of users showed an improvement in ability during their time engaging with the app.


For more information about TopTekkers, visit the website here or download from your mobile app store - it's free for coaches to get started!

Our Head of Product Development Terry Barton covered the topic of player motivation and more in his webinar last week, titled "Player Development and the Role Technology can play", which you can view here.

Download the slides here.

The Coaching Manual also hosts a curation of player development session content that you can use as part of your technical coaching strategies, unlock all our content and more with a Premium account.

What do you get with a Premium membership?

The Coaching Manual is the leading independent provider of coach education globally, so make sure you are getting the most out of your membership today!

✅ The best coaching resources
✅ Intuitive planning tools
✅ Coach education content
✅ Player education content
✅ New content every week
✅ Trusted by elite and grassroots coaches around the world

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