Player with no motivation whatsoever

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by DaBurg, Jul 15, 2019.

  1. DaBurg

    DaBurg Member

    Apr 18, 2019
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Coaching a 7U team with a very wide range of skill levels, but I've got one in particular that is proving to be quite challenging. He may not need to even be out there at all, but his dad is committed. It's quite the conundrum. Dad is one of the more committed, brings player to all the practices, puts him in all the camps. But as far as I can tell, the player does not like being out there. Coaching sessions are like pulling teeth. Having to divert attention to getting him to even make any sort of attempt to play or engage.

    My assessment is that, the boy is very intelligent. Probably one of the more intelligent kids out on the pitch, but this also contributes to his confidence is completely shot. Dad being kindof on the more, lets say.. enthusiastic, end of the spectrum about the sport, he could have pushed a little too hard too early.

    My practice sessions have begun to be all about fun. I'm steering away from drills at this age and more towards the small sided games. During these sessions I get a handful that are engaged. Another handful that attempt to be engaged, but sometimes aren't. Then this poor child who is classically picking butterflies.

    Here's my question. What is most likely to keep him engaged enough where I can get him to learn to love the game, rather than see it as a chore that dad is making him do. I'm even willing to run a practice session completely tailored to this kid, maybe some kind of special game based around him. Brainstorming what that would even look like. If he gains his confidence, based on how smart he is I'm sure this kid would be wonderful to coach if I can get dad to learn to sit back and relax.

    Using the alias "Johnny", maybe something like "Johnny in the middle", where the one child is the focus of the game and getting the ball to him is a goal. And then he dribbles and scores in the nearest goal for another point. Has anyone else dealt with this sort of challenge?
  2. Member

    Feb 8, 2018
    Some kids like to do drills but arent necessarily that interested in competing in games. Some kids are the opposite. Some kids are vocal and like to be the center of attention and some do not. I think you have to get to know the boy better and ask him what his interests are if you want to come up with a game catering to him. Another thing worth trying is to play a lot of different types of games and not necessarily directly related to soccer/scoring, etc. I think the latter is beneficial to all.
    bigredfutbol repped this.
  3. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    A game our kids played (and still do occasionally) is "medic".

    Field Set up
    ~20 x 20 yard field (can be smaller as size requires)
    At two opposite corners, use cones to mark out boxes that are ~2yards by 2 yards

    Team Setup
    Split kids into two equal teams
    Each team dedicates a "medic" and puts them in (each) box.
    All other kids are outside the boxes.

    Non-medics (ie: players) have their ball at their feet. They try to use the ball to "tag" a player of the opposite team.
    If someone is tagged, they immediately sit down (ie: frozen).
    If the team medic touches the frozen player, the player is unfrozen. (ie: Medic 'A' touches frozen player 'A').
    The team medic is safe from being tagged as long as they are in the box. BUT, if they're outside the box (trying to unfreeze a teammate), they are susceptible to being tagged (and frozen).

    The game ends when all the players of one team are frozen... the other team wins.
  4. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    All that being said, does the dad stay and watch practice? Does he see the child not participating? Have you talked to him?
  5. DaBurg

    DaBurg Member

    Apr 18, 2019
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    #5 DaBurg, Jul 15, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
    This sounds great. I don't believe I have a critical mass of players that can understand these types of rules yet. We do have some, but they're the exception rather than the rule. I feel that other teams in our league lucked out and can certainly do these sorts of games, but this would certainly be a massive undertaking trying to get our 5-6 year olds to understand this one. Maybe in a couple years?

    The dad does watch practice, in fact I've put in some effort to get the dad to relax a bit and not coach from the sidelines. I have a feeling part of the lack of motivation is the child's feeling that he can't possibly live up to the demands that are being put on him. Inevitably, the player will start to drift and dad will start in on "correcting" the situation, which I think feeds the negative feedback loop. However, I've made significant progress in getting dad to be more patient, and now am able to turn focus on the player.
    bigredfutbol and sam_gordon repped this.
  6. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    I wondered about the age thing. Sorry, it's been a while since mine were that young. I meant to mention, it's basically "freeze tag", but you get tagged by the ball, and the medic can "unfreeze you" (which I think something similar happens in freeze tag). I'm not sure if 5-6yo can grasp that or not.

    Good for you. I think conversation with the dad is key. My guess is the boy is only playing because the dad is making him (not an unusual situation). But maybe you can involve the boy in some of the "decisions" during a practice? "Hey Bobby... do you want to do weaving or passing?" "Hey Bobby, help me pick the teams".

    Just a thought. Good luck!
  7. CoachP365

    CoachP365 Member

    Business Metrics SC
    Apr 26, 2012
    Most likely some other kid will notice and ask why he/she isn't getting the same options to score. I've done this with older kids as "midfield" in a box, you had to pass into the box and Johnny would play a pass out, no pressure on him, but nobody cares about the midfield in the US, everyone wants to score :)

    I'd suggest games but not necessarily soccer-like games. Tag. If you have the kids, red tags blue, blue tags white, white tags red. Variations on grab the pinnie - either wear it on the dominant hip, the weaker hip, or like a tail.

    Relay races where he starts and his team is a little stacked to overcome any slip ups he may make - if he's part of a winning effort it could boost the confidence.

    Little kids in my town seemed to like "going to the zoo". At our zoo you hit the flamingos early on - can you stand on one leg? Next up are the giraffes - long touches (running with the ball). Then the bears - short instep touches, growl a little. Then you're into the reptile house, the snake dribble - two outside of the foot touches, then the other foot, making a big S as you move downfield. Then ask them to dribble like their favorite animal - you'll get penguins, someone iwll put it under their shirt for the kangaroo, etc.

    I'd run my ssg like Funino - wide field, 2 or 3 goals on each endline, 3v3, start with dribbling in a 5yd safe zone closest to your own goal, defenders can pressure once the ball comes out of the zone or is passed within it, team that scores subs 2 kids, team that doesn't subs 1. You want to remove chances to hide/disappear, increase chances to do something positive. Even if its something like adding a condition that for everyone on the attacking half of the field you get a bonus - so a goal always counts, but if Johnny has hustled and been on the attacking side of midfield, you add to the goal. YOu want to increase defensive play, goals count 4, subtract one for every defender who was back on their half of the field. etc....

    Good luck.
  8. DaBurg

    DaBurg Member

    Apr 18, 2019
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The only concern I have is that, even with my suggestion of what to do, this player has shown zero interest in attempting anything. His confidence is so shot that he won't even try dribbling by himself. It's to the point where I'm even thinking of anything soccer specific is too much for him at this point. I'm brainstorming anything completely outside the box where he will be engaged enough to even do anything other than stand in the goal net and pull up the stakes. Something completely wild that a 6 year old kid would find engaging enough to want to come back. This is probably my last 1 or 2 chances to get through to this kid before he's on another team. 6 is a strange age. They're getting smart enough to not fall for the same tricks that 4 year olds find fascinating, but they aren't old enough to appreciate the game for what it is.
  9. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    This will probably be an unpopular opinion here, but I don't think you force a kid to like a sport.

    I mean I give you credit for trying you best, but maybe he doesn't like soccer. Maybe he doesn't like sports. Guess what? Either is ok.
    bigredfutbol and mwulf67 repped this.
  10. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I don't think it's going to be all that unpopular.

    It does sound like an overzealous Dad squelched any chance there might have been for this kid to loosen up and maybe find some enjoyment in playing.
  11. DaBurg

    DaBurg Member

    Apr 18, 2019
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I don't disagree at all. So here's the question. What do you do in these cases? Let the kid sit down and pick daisies until he wants to participate? I'm fine with that, even if it means it gets me into yet another discussion with dad, because he will begin to coach from the sidelines again if that happens. And he will give a strong lecture to his kid on the way home (therefore undermining any attempt at letting the boy learn to love it on his own) My main issue is that I'm riding the line between tailoring to the more advanced kids, and adjusting my practices to bring up the one or two kids who aren't interested. At some point I can't force interest, yet still I can't necessarily ignore the ones who are over there on the side constantly picking up cones and throwing them around instead of paying attention. This is truly beginning to destroy any idea in my head that a team is the appropriate forum for this age group.
  12. kinznk

    kinznk Member

    Feb 11, 2007
    You mentioned that the kid is intelligent. I assume in the classroom and not a soccer iq thing. Sometimes those kids excel in the classroom at the younger ages and don't really have to try. They pick things up quickly and are told they are smart. Often times they can equate ease with smart or 'good at something' rather than effort. I suspect soccer is not something that 'comes natural' to him and he is forced to work. As a coping mechanism, he doesn't try. Because if he doesn't try he won't be seen as a failure due to natural abilities or the ease of what he can do but rather it can be chalked up to lack of effort. He also may be used to being a big dog everywhere else, mainly school as there is not much else in a kids life. On the field he learns that he's not up to snuff in part because he has some smarts and picks up on that. This is all just a hypothesis.
  13. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    The kid picking daises has been in youth sports long before soccer. But I'd say yes, if that's what the kid wants to do, let him.

    My wife and I still tell the story about how one game at U6, DS did not want to play. He wouldn't participate in warmups, he wouldn't go on the field, nothing. He just sat on the sideline. Wife and I went over and were doing everything we can to cajole him to play. We finally got him convinced to play until he scores a goal.

    So he goes out, kick off is tapped to him, he takes two touches, rifles it into the goal, and walks off the field. :laugh:
    bigredfutbol repped this.
  14. TCRZero

    TCRZero New Member

    Columbus Crew
    Jan 7, 2019
    I'd point all my parents to this: hopefully get the point across to Dad.

    It might be worth pulling him aside and asking what's up? Do you like soccer? What don't you like about it? etc... You'll either get a shrug, or you just might get something you can work with. I've seen kids shut down over uncomfortable cleats.

    Lastly, don't forget your obligation to the rest of the team. I'd be inclusive but I wouldn't go out of my way to structure everything around him.
    bigredfutbol repped this.
  15. RealChicago

    RealChicago New Member

    Real Madrid
    United States
    May 21, 2018
    He's probably six. This is normal for kids. My daughter would be terrified to even step on the field until she was 6-7. Now shes a beast.

    Let him pick the daisies, try to find a fun game to play. I have much success coaching my rec 5-6 year olds with fun to play games. I usually start without the ball then build it up with the ball.
  16. Cantona's Eyebrow

    Dirty Leeds
    Oct 8, 2018
    U7s is very simple and so much fun....

    Warm-up: Every player should have a ball at their feet. There are a million and one fun games that incorporate this. Take absolutely any children's game and adapt it to involve a ball. Off the top of my head, musical chairs with a ball. Musical statues with a ball. Tig with a ball. Noughts and Crosses, or whatever you call it in the U.S, with a ball. British Bulldog with a ball. Hide and seek with a ball. Use your imagination, be a creative coach. If the kids are running, turning, stopping a ball at their feet then they are learning. Add a little bit of competition into things, they'll love it.

    Main body of Session: Glad to hear you say that you've given up on drills. No need to use drills with 6 year olds. There is nothing in the game that can't be taught using Small Sided Games. A skills channel is also great for young kids. They love Storybook Football which really grabs their attention... find their favourite story and turn it into a session! My favourites are The Beanstalk, with the coach as the giant and pop-up goals as castles, or The Big Match, which has a tremendous warm-up routine that focuses on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle! Loads and loads of options at that age. All about capturing the kids imagination and creating a love for the game. At the same time all the foundation skills of dribbling, passing and finishing can be bedded-in.

    Finish with 10mins of 4v4 conditioned games and free play.

    As for the lad who is chasing butterflies. Let him chase. If he joins in, great. If he doesn't, he doesn't. Encourage him by all means, but build sessions around him?.... definitely not. If football is not for him, he may well become an entomologist. Let him find his own passion.
    CoachP365 repped this.

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