5 Things Every Youth Coach Should Know from Arsenal Coach Unai Emery

By Jamie Hancock
June 19, 2019
2 min

Arsenal FC’s head coach Unai Emery has accomplished a lot in his 47 years. He’s coached successfully in Spain’s La Liga, England’s Premier League, and France’s Ligue 1. In the 15 years since he retired as a player, he’s led his teams to UEFA Europa League wins and top finishes in Spain and France. He’s also coached the likes of Neymar, David Villa, and Mesut Özil, to name a few.

Last week, as part of LeagueApps’ commitment to bringing our community together for professional development and networking, we partnered with our customer (and investor), David Villa and DV7 Soccer, and Long Island University to host the 2019 Coaching Development Summit. Among other fantastic speakers, we were fortunate to hear from Unai directly on the secrets to his coaching success. Here are his top five lessons for coaches everywhere.  

1. Invest in developing your players

More than wins or losses, the most important thing a coach can do is invest the time and effort to develop exceptional players. As a top tier coach, Unai focuses on ensuring his players are put in the best possible position to succeed. Sometimes this success may even lead the player to join another team – and that’s ok! As a coach, your responsibility is to do right by your players.  Whether you’re coaching second graders or elite professionals, make sure you invest in player development.

2. Connecting with your players is everything

We know it can be hard to give each player the individual attention he or she needs to be their best. But understanding how a player ticks and their unique strengths lets you as a coach get the most out of your team on game day. It’s not just about understanding the best way to train and field the individuals on your team – you also should know what reality is like for them off the pitch. Maximizing this relationship makes the player work harder for the coach and the coach work harder to prepare the player each week.

3. True communication happens only when both sides are listening

Important communication skills are crucial for coaching success. If a conversation starts and one party is overwhelmed with emotion, it can be hard to truly hear what’s being said, leading to frustration on both sides. This is an opportunity to pause, reflect, and revisit the conversation at a later time.

4. Passion and hard work are the most important qualities in a coach

Unai openly acknowledges that he might not be the most skilled or the most experienced coach – but he’s passionate about his job and he puts in the work. He watches each match he coaches four times to learn how he can improve. The most important thing is that you’re passionate about your profession and you work hard to succeed.

5. If you lose more than you win, you’ll eventually have a problem

This may have elicited a few laughs at the event, but sometimes you just need a reminder about the basics! If you’re investing the time in player development, connection, communication, and you’re putting in the work, you’ll see success. If you don’t, it’s time to rethink your approach.


If you weren’t able to join us at the 2019 Coaching Development Summit, you can rewatch the LeagueApps panel on technology and youth soccer in the U.S. by clicking here.

Interested in joining us at a future event? RSVP for an upcoming event near you on our event page.