As coaches we all want to improve those we work with but sometimes the key to that is by considering our own practice and if we become better coaches then we are more effective in our work with our players.
Too often I have seen coaches find drills that they have seen others do and see them as a ‘cure all’. I also see coaches who must ‘coach’ all the time. This idea of coaching is that they must put on a practice and be seen to be teaching something. Experience teaches us that we produce more creative players if we expose the players to a situation where they have to work things out for themselves. Create the situation, then step back and only intervene when a correction needs made or something positive needs reinforced. Too often what I see is drill after drill where they work on a discrete skill often without any reference to the game. Yes do the technical work , ALWAYS do the technical work, because technique is critical but expose that new skill within a competitive gamelike context so they have to adapt and be creative in a game setting. The reality is the game is the greatest teacher. If practice is like this, the match itself becomes almost an extension of that and then development is more fluid and progressive and everything is pulling in the same direction.
As a Director of Coaching one of the biggest jobs is to make sure you have a happy club with positive coaches that is attractive for players and parents. The more players you have the more opportunity you will have to develop players and the more money will be coming through the doors. This will happen if your coaches put on fun sessions that motivate your players. In the US one of the biggest problems is the profile of soccer against other sports, not to mention the global activity killers of Xbox and Playstation. Kids go home after practice and shoot basketballs, throw baseballs or footballs around. If your coaches can get those players going home and playing soccer, doing the fun developmental activities and mini games you did in the session in their own back yard with their friends or their parents, you’ve cracked it. Not easy, but it should be what we aspire to. Then your one hour session turns into a 7 hour session where they practice or reinforce those ideas in their own time. Then watch their development explode!
So how do you as a DOC encourage your coaches to put on fun sessions. You have to make sure everyone in the club feels valued. You have to make having fun a priority in your philosophy as a club and set that as an objective for every session. Give them the joy and freedom and the chance to fall in love with the game itself. Put goals with nets at the end of drills so everything finishes with a shot at goal and give them that great feeling of hitting the net. It is what the game is about and one of the best feelings in the world. Break up sessions with small games that are conditioned to promote use of and adaptation of the skill, concept being developed.
How do you get your coaches to buy into this because whilst I really believe that content and your coaching curriculum is important, the most important thing by a country mile is delivery and this is where we believe we can help make your coaches better.
How do you help your coaches feel valued, evaluate their performance, share good practice and help them with their development needs? Coach Education forms a huge part of that. We passionately believe in Coach Education and present regularly for NSCAA, SFA, FA and FAI. Courses are great for learning formally and informally with great networking opportunities as well as providing those all important qualifications, but they can be expensive. If we really want to make a difference we have to compliment them with coach education in house and that is where we think we can really help.
One of the hardest things as a coach is to lead a session with your DOC observing you, that can be pretty intimidating and a little unnatural. If we can find a way to allow the young coaches to reflect on their performance and recognise their own strengths and development needs we could make big strides here. Video analysis using Focus is the way forward.
Coaches can self analyse using Focus with category sets created by the DOC They can then tag all their coaching behaviors eg use of questions, demos, coaching points, positioning etc. We can work out talk time / activity time / time on task /number of touches players have in a session etc. You can even tag responses by the players to the coaching. The only limitation is your own creativity as the beauty of Focus is the tag templates are totally customisable and with the iPad with built in camera, it couldn’t be easier.
They can then consider strengths, development needs and have a debrief with a peer, mentor or DOC where they have already reflected on their performance and they can get help finding improvements rather than just highlighting flaws. It is a positive approach which builds confidence and leads to more effective coaching. Highlights clips that are created at the touch of a button allow sharing good practice etc and Focus automatically records stats of everything you tag so it is easy to track progress over time.
This though is only part of the story because not only do you have a great tool for coach education, the very same tool can be used by using different category sets to analyse players as individuals in matches or practice or to look at team performance and work out why certain things happened in the game.
Now would this set your club apart from the crowd?
Would it make your coaches feel valued and appreciated?
Would your players find it stimulating, motivating and fun to be part of?
Would your parents be happy at seeing their son or daughter being part of such a forward thinking positive club?
Want to grow your club, coaches and your players, we can help and it is a lot more cost effective than you could imagine?