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Purchase Ben Bartlett's book, Connected Coaching: The Craft of Player Development, on its own or as part of a bundle.


Ben Bartlett takes coaches on a journey to discover "What kind of club are we?" and to embed and embody that in every aspect of coaching and managing.

In this concise exploration of coaching you will look at how to:

  1. Understand what’s important at your soccer club (make value judgements
  2. Develop a ‘game model’ that reflects what’s important & has utility
  3. ‘Coach it’ with every interaction and pore of our whole being (holistically) using a range of game-relevant, player-responsive practices with both small & larger numbers nested with unopposed & opposed aspects
  4. Think about, measure, and analyse how we’re getting on (Measure What We Value - Not Value What We Can Measure)
  5. ‘Rinse & Repeat’

There is no right way. There are only decisions. We will all, inevitably, have our own perspective on what is ‘right’, which is likely to have been informed by the inherent gifts from our parents (and their parents…..) and by the environments and people our gifts have contended with across our life. However, we are not ‘right’.

Tensions develop from absolutist beliefs. Dichotomies such as we either win OR we develop, we either use unopposed practice OR we learn through games, and we either tell the players what to do OR they decide for themselves are unhelpful. These separatist views can make us feel that we have to decide which ‘corner’ we stand in and draw us towards entrenching our views and practice from a narrow perspective.

These tensions are often compounded by social pressures. The social pressure generated by the perception that we are only good coaches if we win, if our teams play ‘attractive’ football, if we can sell our value on the success of previous players coached, if we wear a certain kit, or if we coach using particular equipment.

It’s hard to hold the line, retain faith in, and embody our development principles when other people’s, often unstated, bias destabilises us and the environment. These pressures are real and can contribute to us further questioning whether the decisions we are making in our coaching are ‘right’.

However, if we agree, share and own what is ‘right’ for our environment, our club, our team, and the players in our care; if we can take account of what things each individual within our collective values and cares about and coherently blend it into our ecosystem - we have the opportunity to enable everyone to feel as if they are considered and important whilst being an integral, integrative being within a broader social landscape.

If we can guide our coaching and thinking towards an approach that is connected to the context we exist in, we can move away from extreme, separatist modes that over-constrain our behaviour.

We can support player development whilst winning, and blend opportunities for players to practise unopposed within our game-based, constraint-led approach whilst also recognising the value in enabling player ownership within a set of agreed beliefs that have the power to shape and influence both player and coach growth.

This doesn’t need to divide opinion, lead to people ‘picking a side’ or fighting to further entrench their long-held bias; rather, it can act as a catalyst that encourages each player, coach and club to commit to positive change, which is a reflection of themselves.

This book deepens and develops the concepts within my first book, ‘Constraining Football’, encouraging all of us as coaches to connect the decisions we make to the nature of our environment and the people within it, people whose inherent desire is to thrive as a living, breathing element of that ecology.

Step away from the splinters and separation that some powerful, pernicious aspects of society can perpetuate. Instead, move towards a coherent and collaborative coaching approach that connects to the cultural constraints of your community.


Experienced UEFA Pro-Licence & MSc qualified coach & developer. Currently guiding and supporting the playing & coaching approach at Houston Dynamo Football Club in The MLS.

Previously led the integration of coach and player development at Fulham Football Club. This was prefaced by 12 years at The FA supporting the development and training of coaches within National Teams & Professional Football Clubs.

Previous experience leading youth development programmes in both The Premier & Football Leagues to support the development of International footballers.

Led significant aspects within the restructure of The Football Association coach education pathway over recent years.


Pair this book with our Standard, XL or Trainer DLX notebooks and our 4-color pen so you can take notes while you read.