Grassroots football match

The FA has been under increasing pressure to do more for the grassroots game in England recently. And it seems that football’s governing body is finally stepping up its efforts.

The recently published ‘Guide to Managing in Grassroots Football’ aims to give amateur coaches expert guidance on how to manage clubs, players and staff.

Compiled by several football experts, the guide has been designed to give practical advice, as well as to shine a light on the realities of grassroots football today. Featuring nine different sections, the manual breaks down the art of management into its component parts.

Being the Manager

The ‘Being the Manager’ section addresses the main principles of management, and it focuses on getting managers to decide what type of coach they want to be. Among the principles listed include fairness, organisation, leadership, understanding players and setting standards.

Managers are encouraged to assess their own strengths and opportunities, and develop an approach to management that suits their personality and character traits.

Tactics and Formations

The FA has decided to give a brief overview of all the most widely used formations in this section.

  1. 4-4-2
  2. 4-5-1
  3. 4-3-3
  4. 5-3-2
  5. 3-5-2

The FA gives a brief overview of each formation, and talks about the advantages and drawbacks of using each one. There are also examples of when such formations have proven successful. For example, the massive success of Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan is used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the 4-4-2 formation.

Match Day Scenarios

This section addresses the need for a flexible approach to tactics during matches. The FA has decided to use very specific scenarios to make their point, along with specific tactical changes that can be implemented to change the direction of a match.

For instance, there is advice on what to do in the event that a team is having trouble dealing with pacey wingers. There’s also advice on what to do when facing teams with an aerial threat at set pieces.

Running a Training Session

This section goes into some detail on how to plan and execute the perfect training session. The FA has decided to break down this section into the various elements of a standard football training session, including the warm up, small sided games for conditioning, short and sharp physical training and tactical training.

There is also advice on how to manage players during training - and how to get the most out of several different types of player and personality at the same time.

Getting the Point Across

Managing a football team successfully relies on effective communication, which is why the FA has devoted a large section of this guide to the issue.

There is advice on how to break teams down for training sessions, how to make the best possible use of training areas and how to include goalkeepers in groups sessions. There’s also practical advice on how to give effective team-talks when faced with different scenarios.

Dealing with Injuries

This section gives managers practical advice on how to deal with injuries, as well as how to keep injuries to an absolute minimum. There is advice on First Aid, treating injuries, delivering pain relief and the recovery process. The FA also recommends that all managers and head coaches put in place a Club Medical Emergency Action plan.

Advising Players on Nutrition and Diet

The most successful managers and coaches take an holistic approach to player development and wellbeing, which includes nutrition and diet. The FA’s guide includes practical advice on how to build energy reserves through a well balanced diet.

There are tips on what players should eat immediately before matches, and what they need to eat in order to replace calories after matches and training sessions. There are also tips on what types of food players should be eating, and how to stay hydrated at all times.

Running the Team

There are some very specific challenges that face grassroots football managers almost every day. The FA has recognised that player finances is a huge issue at grassroots level, which is why there is advice on how to manage subscriptions, player fines and kit maintenance.

There’s also guidance on how to keep a team disciplined, cooperative and on time for matches. The FA has suggested that managers use social media in order to communicate key dates, times and vacancies.

Getting Yourself Qualified

This section gives managers practical advice on how to advance their learning and development as a football manager. The pathway to elite management is open to absolutely anyone with the determination to succeed. Success as a professional manager or coach is not predicated on a past career as a professional player; Jose Mourinho is proof of that.

The FA’s Guide to Managing in Grassroots Football is a very good resource for new and aspiring managers, but it will probably offer very little to experienced managers looking to take the next step. But the fact that the FA has spent time and resources creating this document is proof of their determination to improve grassroots football throughout the country.