The Five Cs of Player Development

As a coach in grassroots youth football, helping to develop young players - on and off the pitch - is the ultimate goal. 

Doing so, though, is much more than just the Xs and Os of session plans and training sessions.

Of course, developing young footballers technically and tactically is part of the plan, but we have a unique opportunity to use football to support their psychological and social development.

Psychological Development

Dealing with players' psychological mindset is one of the most underrated parts of a coaching toolbox and is often neglected for more technical/tactical parts of the game.

The Five Cs have been created by Sport psychologist Professor Chris Harwood to support the development of players psychologically and act as guiding principles useful for coaches at all levels.

  1. Commitment
    The quality or strength of your motivation to improve and persevere in the learning and performance of skills.
    Commitment reflects the strength of your motivation to improve, persevere, and learn new skills. Commitment drives you forward and is demonstrated by athletes who show consistent effort from start to finish, high-quality preparation, and a desire for taking on new challenges.

    Players with great commitment focus on making improvements and learning from their mistakes. They take pride in how their efforts lead to progress, regardless of whether they win or lose.
  2. Communication
    How well you send and receive information to and from others through behaviours such as encouragement, praise and acknowledging feedback.
    Communication involves the social skills shown when building relationships with teammates, coaches, and parents. The quality of your communication skills are demonstrated in the ways that you send and receive information.

    Asking questions; sharing your thoughts; and giving encouragement, praise, and positive instructions are all ways of sending information to your teammates.

    Acknowledging a teammate or your coach with a thumbs up or a clap is a non-verbal way to send a positive message. Listening respectfully to a coach, accepting feedback, and taking advice or instructions from teammates are great ways of receiving information that can help your performance.

    Good communication is an essential social skill that acts like superglue for teamwork!
  3. Concentration
    Your ability to consistently focus and refocus effectively on what is required for the task in hand.

    Concentration is an athlete’s ability to focus on the right thing at the right time. Players with great concentration stay focused on the key components of a task during many potential distractions that compete for their attention.

    If they lose focus, they are good at recognising it quickly and often say a positive phrase to themselves or pick a key object (like the ball or a teammate) on which to refocus.
  4. Control
    Your ability to recognise, understand and manage thoughts and feelings so that you create an emotional state that helps your performance.

    Sport inevitably brings feelings of nervousness because it is exciting and physical, and no one knows how the competition or match will end. With such uncertainty, a dose of nerves is completely normal, but it is important to stay in control of your feelings.

    Keeping calm, positive, and composed while also being alert and ready are some of the features of good emotional control. The ability to take care of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions is vital.

    Using slow, steady breathing techniques, listening to your favourite music, and showing positive, helpful reactions after making mistakes are some of the strategies that can make you a master of control.
  5. Confidence
    The belief in your ability to perform well through making positive decisions and being fully present, assertive and engaged in your role.
    Confidence is often what players experience and feel when their other 4Cs are going well. Because of their high commitment, communication, concentration, and control skills, a player with high confidence is likely to test out new skills, take calculated risks, show strong body language, and be a leader who supports others.

    These athletes will consistently fight to the end, regardless of whether they are winning or losing.

As coaches, we have a huge influence over the psychological development of our young charges.

By embracing the Five Cs as guiding principles, we not only sculpt proficient young players but also empower resilient, empathetic individuals equipped to navigate the complexities of the game, as well as life beyond the pitch.

Within our Technical Guide for 7v7 Coaches, which is part of our Transition to 7v7 CPD course, we have created an easy reference guide to the Five Cs, and ideas around how coaches can help support their players in these key areas.

Right click and save the image below to your device, and share with your fellow coaches, too.

If you'd like to learn more about the psychological aspects of player development, why now check out our range of coach CPD course to build your knowledge, click here...

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