Football Coach

In my last article entry, I touched briefly on archaic coaching methodologies and their prevalence in the world of youth sport. Ultimately, I wanted to address one key issue – whether or not the command style, dictator coach still has a place, or a meaningful impact, when it comes to creating a learning environment for young players? Or if its time they hung the boots up (shocking football pun) in favour of a more player-centered approach?

A long time ago, I heard or read something that stuck with me and shaped my approach to coaching; it was simply this – “teaching/ coaching is a myth” – put the pitchforks down, let me explain. Teaching / coaching is a myth insofar as it’s true purpose is not to actually teach / coach, but rather to enable individuals to learn. Think about that for a moment.

To better understand that statement, we must give it context; now, I don’t know about you, but I much prefer feeling like I solved a problem on my own accord as opposed to being given the solution, or being told how to solve it – this is as true for Sudoku and crossword puzzles, as it is for playing football or tiddlywinks. Why? Because human beings are goal-driven creatures. So, it makes sense that we’re inherently motivated by things we perceive to be within our capabilities. The coach / teachers job then is to create tasks / problems that are challenging but achievable for their players / pupils, respectively. I challenge any parent, teacher or coach to dispute the simple fact that enabling an individual to discover a solution is far more rewarding and unforgettable than giving them the solution. Not only does the individual better retain the information but they learn to become self-motivating too.

Therein, lies the major difference between the two distinct coaching methodologies I have outlined below: –

A player-centered approach VS. A coach-centred approach

 A coach centered approach to learning

  • Football actions are typically performed in isolation and “repetition, repetition, repetition” is the mantra.
  • Push and Tell = answers to football problems are given to players, thereby impeding decision-making.
  • There is an assumption that telling a player what to do is akin to learning.
  • Coaches tend to become frustrated when players fail to apply practice instructions to game context.
  • Players become friendly with the ball, but strangers to the game.

A player-centred approach to learning

  • No football action is isolated, but instead rests in interactions between team mates, opponents and the changing nature of surrounding space.
  • Pull & Ask = the dominant modes of information delivery (listening & questioning to guide discovery).
  • As often as possible, sessions are designed using the principles of co-adaptability; players recognise that football actions don’t occur in a vacuum, but that they are directly influenced by opposition players and team mates.
  • Closed and open-ended questions lead to possible solutions; and the solutions are owned, absolutely by the players.
  • Players implicitly learn to become decision-makers who adapt their decisions to the changing environment; they get comfortable dealing with circumstances that are unstable & uncertain.

In my last article I looked at the importance of context when it comes to creating a training environment that’s dynamic, unpredictable and rich with appropriate stimuli. In this article, I intended to highlight the fact that a player centered approach appeals to our innate motivation to attain achievable goals and our ability to learn deeply when we are enabled to do so. In my next article, we’ll look more closely at how we can teach young players to be self-motivated and explore some of the ways that coaches and parents can work together to achieve that.

In the meantime, if you’d like to get in touch to discuss our coaching programs and how you can get your young player involved, please don’t hesitate to give me call or send an email. For some more information on our coaching programs, please click the links below: –

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