Coaches need to provide players the opportunity to enjoy the game as they grow older – Stevie Grieve


The modern day football has seen Young players dominate most teams as they try to attain greatness and the future definitely lies with them for a team at national level or club level.

Players like Kylian Mbappe, Kelechi Iheanacho, Marcus Rashford, Marco Asensio, etc are living testament to the fact, and further development in their play as they grow older should be  scintillating to billions of football fans around the globe as the game evolves.

Timothy Dehinbo of interviewed Burlington Youth soccer team coach, Coach Stevie Grieve and he spoke about youth development and a good developmental cycle for them, plus success indicators for young players or team.

Interview Details:

NFP: Your coaching background, and your philosophy of coaching a youth team and good developmental cycle for young players?

STEVIE: I’ve been coaching for 15 years, since i was 16. I am now in my 5th country working as a coach, previously i worked in Scotland, USA, Switzerland, India and now Canada.

I focus on creating intelligent players, making players more effective in possession and understanding the dynamics of time/space and how to open more space for themselves or team mates.

I feel that a good developmental cycle will include periods of success by way of in game data/KPI’s, character building as in coming from behind to win/draw, and working under inspirational and knowledegable coaches who understand the development of the person is more important than winning matches at any cost

NFP: What are your thoughts on the
importance of tactics and introducing them to this age group( U13, 15, 17 and 20)?

STEVIE: Tactics help players to understand the game. If we only do physical work in isolation, we waste time developing the technical and tactical work needed to play at a high level. Players need to understand all 4 reference points (Ball, Space, Team mate, Opponent) and by training tactical sessions, we can improve players technical capacity. Depending on area size, numbers, duration of activity etc we can incorporate physical development within game based sessions.

In my experience of working with African players, many are technically very strong, physically amazing but lack game understanding. I think this is something which the next generation of African coaches must improve in to get an African team to have the chance to win the World Cup. The talent and physical capability is there as we see it in the u17 and u20 World Cups, but the last part of having higher level tactical intelligence is missing to make that jump at the senior level.

NFP: As a good youth coach, how do you improve the tackling ability of the less physical players in your team?

STEVIE: I try to focus on anticipation and using their body and lower centre of gravity to cut across opponents, to protect the ball and if possible, draw a foul. There’s no point in me trying to spend alot of time working on a player who is 60kg doing lots of tackles against a player who is 85kg.

If you work on body positioning, timing to block and protect and work on pressing, they can help win the ball back for the team as part of a small group rather than as an individual.

NFP: What are your thoughts on coaches using “run withs”, “taggers”, extra players in the backline, “flooding” the opposition forward line? And
does it help a youth team?

STEVIE: I use a ‘spare man’ in the back line, and tend to play more of an offside trap with a high line and pressure on the ball. If you ask the defenders to track runners 5m behind the defence, don’t play offside, then you get pushed backwards and everyone has to recover 40m. This then makes it more difficult to control all of the space you want and adds the extra of having the whole team need to run 40m and 40m forward. So tracking 1 run when you could play offside can result in wasting 800m of energy collectively. Doing that 10 times means you lose 8km of energy by not teaching the players how to form a strong defensive line and teach them how and when to play offside or track a runner.

By flooding the opposition forward line – for example splitting the field into 6 vertical zones, you can have the back 4 very narrow, leaving the sides free. This can make it tough to give away any space, especially against a narrow attacking team.

NFP: Finally, what do you perceive to be the success indicators of a youth team?

STEVIE: Players who are incapable of playing at a high level staying involved at the game and enjoying it in the future.

Players who show potential, are able to find opportunities to make playing football a career
Players going on to become coaches.
Success comes in many forms. Less than 1% of players are able to become professionals, so we need to provide players the opportunity to enjoy and stay involved in the game as they get older.Of course, everyone wants to develop players who go to the National Team and play in Europe. This comes more down to the player than the coach, the coach is a part of the journey, the best ones have the desire, intensity, self-assessment and learning capacity to do it themselves, they just need opportunities. Creating and offering opportunity is a big part of the youth team staff.

NFP: Thanks for your time with Naijafootballplus

STEVIE: Great Pleasure Here!!!

1 Comment

  1. This is one of the best interview I have ever read. I love the fact that he break it down and his explanation is on point. You asked him some crucial questions which he explained in details. Kudos to you

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