IN THE DUGOUT | March 16th | PLAYERS are a product of their environment.
By IAIN KING, Head Coach, BSC Lowland League brought to you in association with Sport Careers
The more I work with Scottish footballers at all levels – from the SYFA Scotland national Under-14 squad to our Lowland League side – that truth is hammered home to me.
My passionate belief in the need for a winter shutdown has been trumpeted enough in this blog over these rain-lashed, freezing months of frustration BSC Glasgow have suffered through.
The sadness on that front is that as the weather turns those in power in our game will shrug their shoulders, send teams into nine games in a month and claim it was a freak winter.
Just like they always do. Until clubs have the guts to drive change it won’t happen and all those with a platform like myself can do is keep banging the drum.
I won’t stop because I firmly believe we brutally harm the development of our players by forcing them to play and train in wretched conditions on substandard surfaces.
Once they come through that winter endurance test and the good weather arrives the games come thick and fast and there is no time to practice technique.
Take a smaller group of players away from your squad to do a long-passing drill or fast feet and reaction passing as a coach and I guarantee you this reaction.
“I haven’t done that for ages, I needed that. I’ve got to be better than that.”
This is established Lowland League first-team players, in the fifth tier of our game.
It’s not their fault they don’t work enough on their basic technique, it’s ours.
They WANT to get better but too often as coaches in the howling wind and rain our main concern is keeping the players warm and moving.
Last Wednesday night at Hyndland we worked through a shaping session after spotting some positional flaws in our 2-1 Challenge Cup quarter-final win at Vale of Leithen.
I could sense the impatience in some of the players as we walked through the tactical structure we wanted of them.
“God sake gaffer, get us moving, get the ball out, let’s get going.”
You can sense those thoughts at the front of their minds.
Driven to distraction by 16 postponements this winter, they are like caged animals at training now. They want to MOVE, they want to PLAY.
They don’t want to stop, to stand and be educated as footballers. I don’t condone that but I understand it.
Compare and contrast that to a session I helped on with my friend Juan Magro in the warmth of Valencia’s La Paterna training complex three years ago.
He was working with the Under-12s showing them their seven-a-side tactics on an iPad for 30 minutes.
They sat in a circle, hung on every word he uttered then went out and executed positional switches, defenders covering midfielders when they made their runs forward. At the age of 12.
Like I say players in this country are a product of their environment.
Until we improve that environment we will never properly improve our players.
I for one, though, will never give up the fight.