How do you deal with a disappointing coaching session?

Any coach will tell you they’ve had awful sessions where they’ve gone home disappointed. We all deal with it differently. For me I always ask why was it bad? Was there something I could have changed? I got home feeling down and annoyed at myself, as my players deserve better. It’s a learning experience as just like players we are on a learning journey too.

Okay… Tuesday’s session was awful. I had good connection with the players before the ball started rolling. Before we got on the Astro I went through what the session would look like and what the aims where and a brief recap of the previous session. My session was on delaying attacking play. Firstly the space was too small and sharing an Astro as a temporary training measure. I tried to force the aim of the session by adapting it, introducing an offside line and channels as a visual so players could force the attackers out wide to delay them.

Some players responded well to the changes and thrived but most where sluggish and felt too relaxed, perhaps due to the large number of new people trying it out. I tried motivating players using rewards for their risk and asking them to rate their effort on an effort meter.  Some responded well to the coaching and interventions perhaps due to embarrassment from the lack of effort.

I found the session disappointing as I felt learning had been minimalistic and only a small proportion of the session aims where achieved. I felt gutted for the players who put in the effort and tried hard as these where the ones who wanted to be there. I was disappointed that I couldn’t motivate the other players, and that the session aims were not achieved and very little learning took place.

Upon reflection I should have given the players more ownership, let them set their own challenges and I should of used 1v1 interventions to keep the session flowing. Also I should have managed the mistakes of players better and prevented any frustrations from creeping in.

As a coach it’s difficult to deal with disappointment because I can’t let its show as it will affect my players. I always try to be positive and created a positive player centred environment, so I have to box my emotions and keep them until after the session.

I reflect by asking myself what happened  in terms of:

•deliver/communication •technical/tactical knowledge

•player ownership and the environment created

•learning what too place

•interventions and reflection in session

I take these reflections as points for me to work on in my next session as I try to become better to help my players. After all I have to keep learning for my players to develop.

After I have had chance to get home and reflect on the session, I then put it on the shelf and use it as a driving force for my next session. If not it will only adversely effect me in the future and be more damaging to the players.


Author: “I’m Rachael aged 18 currently studying A levels at college in Northampton, U.K.  I currently coach/manage Well and Valley under 10 girls and under 12s Northamptonshire FA ACC (advanced coaching centre) which feeds into the England set up.

I first got involved in coaching at 13 by coaching in primary schools. I  went on to coach in secondary schools and deliver sessions in formal PE lessons. My coaching really took of when I got involved with my county FA Football Futures Programme and since then I have completed my Level 2 and Youth module 2. Currently I sit on my County FA management team which oversees the Football Futures Programme in Northampton.

This year I was nominated by my County to attend the National Football Futures Camp for top young coaches, referees and youth council members.”