My players should create something better than what I teach them

How do you develop creative footballers? Players who can think for themselves will always achieve more than those who just follow orders. 


A big challenge for coaches who work with young players is the balance between coaching and the allowance to learn.

Players need to be coached with opportunity to apply teachings for themselves.



A coach doing his UEFA A Licence badge

By the book


Qualifications through governing bodies give structure to build a coaching ‘DNA’ but shouldn’t be totally relied upon for full player growth.

Top football development coaches insist it’s the ability of promising players to become imaginative innovators as a marker of true progress.


Brazilian Soccer Schools coach Will Partington


"I want my players to be able to absorb everything from our program and then mash it up and create something even better with all of those sub-components that I teach them."

- Will Partington of Brazilian Soccer Schools


It’s hard for some coaching environments to stray away from the textbook, reasoning centres around safety or general ignorance…..AKA fear! This breeds rigid players.

None more so than in the professional game.


Brazil & Barcelona star Neymar in EL Clasico

Master of invention - Brazil's Neymar


Some years back, Southampton football club took the unprecedented step to introduce outside expertise to their academy set-up.


"What happened with Southampton was the chairman at the time, Rupert Lowe, wanted to make his academy as good as anywhere. He looked at the different ways in which he could improve it. One thing that he did amongst others – was hire Simon Clifford, the founder of Brazilian Soccer Schools."

- Will Partington, Brazilian Soccer Schools


Clifford would become part of the club’s technical training delivery, working with future Premier League stars like Liverpool’s Adam Lallana along with Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal. These players had the opportunity to learn the particular style of Brazilian Soccer Schools at an early age.



Theo Walcott playing for Arsenal in the Premier League

Student - Theo Walcott


Coaching plans in place then would of undoubtedly been in line with the typical B or A Licence sessions of the English FA. Granted the documented pathways give worthy development structures but UK based coaches we speak to feel that individual technical skill options are a miss.



Oxlade-Chamberlain playing for England

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain


The aforementioned players have developed into accomplished international footballers who happen to show deft technique when attacking or in 1 v 1 encounters. Exposure to a syllabus that encourages creative flair when in the foundation & youth development phase would’ve been beneficial.

“The 11 aside game is shrinking. The angles are getting tighter, the players are getting more athletic and with that you're going to have to be more intelligent”

- Will Partington, Brazilian Soccer Schools


Indeed, the players who catch the eye or the most sought after in the modern game are the ones who can do that bit extra. That ‘extra’ is not developed by coaching alone, it comes from trying things, it comes from mistakes.

A player exposed to more scenarios develops more options to overcome more situations. Your coaching tools or approach needs to reflect that. Street football of the past was a proven breeding ground to encourage this; no coaches, no cones just creativity and continuous problem solving.

Creating an environment that stimulates thought in players has long-term benefits
Dean Gorré - football4football head of development



The game of futebol de salão by default creates a ‘street’ playing environment. The chosen tool by Will and his team hails from the nonconformity streets of Brazil. For the young players out there it’s simply about being at one with the ball facing opponent after opponent, again and again.



Brazilian Soccer Schools coach Will Partington doing a session with young players

Try something different


First hand accounts of how Brazilian Soccer Schools sessions are delivered, saw a willingness from both coach and students to try-out some pretty outrageous stuff.

What the coach demonstrated could be seen as ‘showboating’ by some beyond standard body feints or Cruyff turns. When explained though, there was a genuine outlet for in game use. No flicks & tricks for the sake of it but another level of skill geared towards outwitting the opposition.



Adam Lallana scoring for England

Technical proof - Lallana 


Yes, the players were initially ‘coached’ but they were comfortable trying the seemingly impossible to then look for ways to build upon the skill base they’d been taught. Players from the current Brazilian Soccer Skills set-up have taken steps into the pro game, it will be interesting to see if they follow in the footsteps of the former Southampton stars.

“We've got players who’ve signed full professional contracts, they're now making decisions about what's right for them. It’s encouraging that they are still utilising the Brazilian Soccer Schools syllabus as men”

- Will Partington, Brazilian Soccer Schools

Think to make them think...

However you go about coaching players, don't get wrapped up reeling in off the coaching manual or text book. Give the pointers and direction seeing what unfolds in front of you. As you may now know, any game that delivers on 'touches', skill, invention, decision making in match like situations will help players further up the development stages.  EXCLUSIVE VIDEO COMING SOON......

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