The Scottish Football Association

Coach Tools to Redefine Winning

Redefine winning


Redefine Winning


Move the focus from results and league tables to succeeding and winning through effort.


• Sustained effort to achieve set goals – encourage players to work hard to achieve in whatever they do

• Don’t focus on results, focus players to learn and improve to master skills and improve performance

• Mistakes happen – more important is we encourage players respond quickly to recover.

We call this the MASTERY approach to coaching 

Coaches Tools to redefine winning

Rewarding effort

All coaches are able to recognise when a player has performed well. It is important to recognise the effort made regardless of whether they were successful or not. For example if a player dribbles past two defenders and then shoots the ball high and wide. At first the player will be disappointed but by rewarding effort made to go past to defenders and get a shot should be rewarded with praise. By doing so, participants will feel valued and their confidence levels will be maintained, leading to an increased desire to try harder next time.


Dealing with mistakes

Fear of making mistakes can impact negatively on the performance of a player. A player who is working hard to learn and develop new skills will make mistakes. Coaches must support the player and encourage them to feel free to express themselves and learn from the mistakes.

How coaches and young people deal with mistakes can be one of the most important things they do. Mistake ‘rituals’ help young people bounce back and continue to concentrate on the rest of the game. Here are some examples of mistake rituals that you can give to players.

• “Clap it out” – A quick clap of the hands and move on to next play

• “Bounce Up” - Anytime a player finds themselves on the ground (tackled, tripped etc.) they immediately “bounce up” off the ground as quickly as they can.

• “Bad pass into good pass” – Get the ball back by closing down the man or getting back into position

Rituals like these remind players that mistakes are inevitable and the most important thing is how they recover from them.

Effort logs

To ensure that effort is seen as an important element of football, coaches can use an effort log to directly ask the child how hard they worked.

After each match / training session, ask every player in your team to log their effort levels using the chart in the coaches’ resources section. This provides a valuable resource to put a focus on hard work and an incentive for young players to work hard. The Effort Log worksheet can be found in the coaches resources section.


Effort goals

To set goals with your players we want to concentrate on effort to achieve a task rather than setting a goal which only focuses on the end result. We call these Effort Goals

Effort goals provide great motivation as the individual is in control of whether or not they achieve the goal. An effort goal is achievable if the young person works hard and puts in appropriate effort to achieve and can easily see when progress has been made. Outcome goals such as scoring goals or tackling an opponent tend to focus on the end result and do not take into account any of the effort which was made to achieve them. They can provide motivation, however solely focussing on the result can lead to increased anxiety and lowered self-confidence if unsuccessful. Many coaches only use outcome goals but this can discourage effort as they are largely uncontrollable due to a number of factors such as the ability and form of the opposition.

Set goals for your players that they can achieve through effort

Move off the ball

Communicate with your team-mates       Players In Control

Pass to your team-mates

Follow up rebounds

Avoid giving outcome goals as can add pressure and cause frustration

Score a goal

Don’t let any goals in                             Players not in control

Don’t give the ball away

Win the game

Effort goals set at the correct level will help players work towards the outcome goals.


Stretch goals

Stretch Goals go a little beyond what individuals think they can achieve, but are achievable with effort through time. Whether individuals achieve them or not, it will motivate a young player towards a target. Stretch Goals should be carefully monitored to ensure they are not too ambitious and discourage. When ‘Stretch Goals’ are properly set, they become Just-Right Challenges’ those individuals are excited to achieve. A good example is if a player can get 10 keep uppys! The stretch goal you might set would be 12 keepy uppys. This would give the player a target to work hard at to achieve.


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