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How Coaches and Parents Can Work Together

(Article from the FA Education team)

When we take our young children to football we want them to have a rewarding, positive and fulfilling first experience. As the adults involved in this we have a crucial role to play. 

There are a number of issues that may arise that could cause conflict between the coach and the parents yet both should be committed to working together for the good of all the children. The England DNA asks for the coach to play more games and include more game-like practices as opposed to formal drill type activities. This will be very important as players enter the later stages of the Foundation Phase yet there is a perception by some coaches that this will be frowned upon by the parents because:

  • Anyone could just “have a game”

  • the coach is not “coaching”

  • The players are not learning anything

  • The coach is not “telling” the players everything

  • Is this what we are paying our subs for?


As you become familiar with this resource you will see enough evidence for you, as the coach, to begin to justify your position of including more games in your training sessions. It is absolutely the right thing to do to build on the great work that we are advocating for our young 5-8 year old players and is the perfect progression to continue the players football development.

We must make this very clear at this point, having a game does NOT mean you are NOT coaching or the players are NOT learning. Working in this way asks the coach to become skilled at designing the right game for the players and then helping them to be successful when playing it. This is highly skilled coaching.

The England DNA is made of of 3 core elements as you will know by now. These are:

  1. The child

  2. Sport physical activity and football

  3. The relationship between these two things

England DNA.jpeg

The England DNA for the U5-8 ages looks at the all round development of each child as the early Foundation Phase is such an important stage of development.


This process does not suddenly stop when the players reach 9 years of age. It means the players are now ready for the next part of their football journey and as such we still want the players to continue to develop:

  • A complete mastery of their body and the ball

  • A can do attitude to problem solving and learning

  • The skills to make new friends and to be a good friend

  • A life long love of being active, sporty, fit and healthy


If coaches and the parents can work together on this then we have a great chance to continue the progress made and be successful.


With this in mind, let’s look at each one in more detail:

1. A complete mastery of their body and the ball

The England DNA wants each child to develop a confidence and creativity on the ball and to develop a wide movement capability that helps them to be successful in whatever they choose to do or play.​

How can the coaches and parents help this?

  • In training sessions provide lots of individual work with the ball. The coach can really begin to challenge the technique of each player (coaches)

  • Use lots of tag and chasing games in warm ups and include some body weight activities and speed work (coaches)

  • Encourage and celebrate individual ability on the ball (coaches and parents)

  • Play lots of small-sided games with even, uneven numbers and on different sizes of pitch/area (coaches)

  • Continue to encourage your child to try other activities and sports (parents)

  • Help each child to develop a great connection with the ball (coaches and parents) 

2. A can do attitude to problem solving and learning

The methodology favoured by the England DNA Foundation Phase is one where the children are actively involved in their learning. The coach will provide lots of opportunities to play small-sided games. In doing this the children will explore and experiment with where their individual ability “fits” into the game and then the coach will work sensitively and appropriately with each child to help them improve.


How can the coaches and parents help this?

  • Provide lots of opportunities to experiment and explore (coaches and parents)

  • Continue to encourage your child to play out with friends (parents)

  • Ask questions to extend learning and to check understanding (coaches and parents)

  • Ask if there are other solutions to problems rather than having just one. This promotes creative thinking and is great for extending learning opportunities. Give the players more tactical problems to solve.(coaches and parents)

  • Continue to involve the children in their learning and development. Learning is not something that you do to someone else! (coaches and parents)


3. The skills to make new friends and to be a good friend

The England DNA wants to develop children who are equipped to deal with all that life will throw at them as well as being good footballers. Childhood is a time when attitudes and dispositions for life are formed so we ask that all adults involved in this period of development send out very strong messages about respect, sportsmanship and fair play. Being able to work together, collaborate and empathise with others are skills for life so, as adults, we must be good role models of the behaviours we want our children to remember and reproduce when they become adults with children of their own.

How can the coaches and parents help this?

  • Encourage and model respect, sportsmanship and fair play at all times. This will be tested during the season but be consistent and clear in what you expect and how everyone MUST behave. (coaches and parents)

  • Applaud good play by all players (coaches and parents)

  • Stand together and talk to the adults supporting the other team (parents)

  • Support the referee’s decisions at all times (however difficult). There are much bigger things at stake here than a single result. (coaches and parents)

  • If you cannot control your emotions, your temper or your language then being involved in children’s sport may not be the thing for you. (coaches and parents)

4. A life long love of being active, sporty, fit and healthy

The England DNA recognises the importance of a child’s first experience of team sports, coaching and competition. Our approach is to make this first experience a memorable one because it is fun, exciting and challenging yet absolutely appropriate for where each individual child is regarding their ability and their development.

If your involvement supports this then we welcome you aboard. If competition or  winning and losing brings out the worst in you then you have to overcome this for the sake of the children. There can be no compromise on this. The England DNA puts the children first!

How can the coaches and parents help this?

  • Give children the opportunity to play and be involved in your team (coach)

  • Avoid putting undue pressures on the children (coaches and parents)

  • Promote enjoyment and involvement over winning and losing whilst helping the children deal with these two things with dignity and respect. Winning does become more important as the players get older - help them manage this effectively (coaches and parents)

  • Be a great role model. Someone your child will look up to NOT be embarrassed by. (coaches and parents)

  • Help us use Football to develop great children who grow into great people. (coaches and parents)      


This England DNA resource will help, support and guide all of the adults working with our players in the Foundation Phase. The advice is in line with stages of child development as well as football development and is designed to inform people so that they can provide the best possible Foundation Phase experience for the players.

As parents, support your coach as they use the session ideas, practical advice and the latest research to help create a memorable and positive relationship with sport, physical activity and of course, football for your sons and daughters.

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