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I see lots of sessions where coaches set up good practices but very rarely go in and coach the players - instead they stand back and “let the game be the teacher”. I recently spoke to a friend and colleague who said something which stuck with me....
‘The game is the headteacher, but we are the teachers.’
As coaches I feel we can sometimes go too far down the route of – let the game be the teacher. Players want to learn - especially female players - and of course we should be giving players a variety of coaching interventions. However, I rarely see coaches “getting their hands dirty” ie. Affecting players!
By this, I mean stopping the practice, recreating the picture(s), demonstrating and bringing to life what you want the players to do at that specific moment on the pitch.
These are difficult skills which require practice and confidence. As coaches, we need to invest time in our planning, to ensure that we are clear about our intended outcomes. It’s an area of my coaching practice which I have developed and am continuing to work on. I now take more time in my planning, ensuring that my practice design allows me to get the outcomes I want and I utilise the coaching staff around me to support more effectively.
Common coaching styles I see are - Guided Discovery and Observation and Feedback (find out more about these styles in the ‘coaching style’ blog) which are great ways to engage players and assist with learning but, as coaches, we must remember that we are the ‘teachers’ and players look to us for some of the answers. Also, players learn in different ways and for some there is no better way than recreating situations on the pitch and giving them the detail that they require “in action”.
Be mindful that we still want lots of ball rolling time, especially for younger players. Coaches can sometimes fall into the trap of getting carried away when intervening and players begin to switch off because they are made to stand still for too long. Consider timing your interventions and (if you can) voice record what you say - this is a great learning tool as you’ll be able to reflect on whether the information you have given is concise, clear and effective.
Every individual coach will have a bias when it comes to delivery - when you are next with your players, try to recognise what yours is.
Be brave and challenge yourself to stop the practice / show the players what you want as well as set challenges and provide some one to one feedback via a variety of intervention methods and coaching styles.
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