By Roger Wilkinson
This is a rambling examination of what coach education should really be about and what coaches should aspire to. Forgive me if it is not always logically constructed but I hope it stimulates the questions and answers that help coaches reach for greater heights.
Bear with me if I go over some old ground but I see so many potentially great young coaches who are searching for excellence and a better way (they are often the victims of national coach education schemes that are institutionalised, poorly constructed and are just politically and/or financially motivated but that’s another topic)
Our aim at Premier Skills is to promote and train outstanding, innovative coaches who maximise the abilities and potential of the players they are working with at all levels.
We want to produce great coaches who in turn produce great players.
If we break it down it seems to me that to become a great coach you need to develop a minimum of the following skills;
- Outstanding practical delivery skills,
- The ability to demonstrate correctly,
- A fundamental understanding of what great players and great team play looks like.
- A real understanding of and empathy with players, that motivates them to practice, train and produce outstanding individualism and game understanding as well as the personal qualities of dedication and discipline.
But even coaches with these innate abilities need a coach education system that;
- Has an exciting, clearly defined, national playing vision.
- Has a coaching methodology that enables coaches to systematically and gradually present their work to their players to ensure success.
- That educates and trains their coaches to deliver realistic sessions that develop players within the framework of the national vision.
- Supports all coaches within the system with practical examples of quality coaching that excites and stimulates coaches to innovate and develop their own coaching ideas.
The system should constantly be reminding coaches to ask themselves:
- What is your playing vision? What is your “Game style”? Put simply the coach’s aim should be….. “when my players are senior players I want them to be able to play Brazil or Spain and not only beat them but also outplay them!!!”
- Have you identified, isolated and documented the tactical and skill elements that make the game style work?
- Do you understand how to work with specific age groups to prepare them to play to successfully with individuality, skill and the clever tactical acumen within the game style?
- Do you understand the coaching process? and how to gradually, through easy to learn but realistic practices, develop high skill levels and tactical understanding in the players at the same time?
Let me repeat that!! Skill and tactical awareness at the same time not in isolation!!
- Do you understand how players learn permanent good habits by receiving their learning in multiple but single themed practices? In other words “programmes of work “ that allow the players to take their learning and understanding from short term through medium term to long term memory.
Remember if you programme your work properly every session should prepare the players for the next one and follow on from the previous one.
- Is your session delivery really effective? Do your players learn and how do you assess that?
- When delivering coaching points are they in cleverly constructed sequences that effortlessly take the learner through to game understanding?
- Do you incorporate general underlying playing priorities in your theme specific sessions? For example as a coach I might be working on Receiving and Passing but I am still ensuring all work is done with both feet and am I still making sure the players “play ahead of themselves” looking and gaining awareness BEFORE receiving the ball.
- When making coaching points do I deliver them in a way that encourages, stimulates and creates the right learning “picture” for the players?
- Even at senior level is there“gradualness” in my session delivery that enables the players to learn the detail of the session and achieve progressive success?
- Do I give feedback before, during and after a session and communicate with individual players in an honest, positive and clear way that involves them totally in the development process?
I’ve covered some of the elements that are important I’ve probably missed some out to! Like I said coaching “ain’t easy but if you as a coach wish to work and improve then Premier Skills will fully support you.