OPTIMAL YOUTH FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT CHECKLIST PART 5

 PART 5: A MODERN COACHING STYLE
There have been many beneficial innovations in football coaching and education in general over the last decade or so, but not all coaches have been implementing them. The genuinely modern coach who has the welfare and development of the kids at heart will endeavour to fulfil the following criteria:

  1. The coach/manager should emphasise development more than results!
  2. He should  know and respect the rights and needs of his players  (see Horst Wein Model) at each age group and also their individual needs.
  3. He should have a good knowledge of the game of football and the appropriate curriculum for the age group he is working with.
  4. He should act fairly and evenly with all the kids under his care to help all of them reach their full potential.
  5. He should use words and actions of encouragement towards the players, creating an enjoyable and friendly environment for them to blossom.
  6. He should use less instruction and more active learning, empowering the players through giving them responsibility and welcoming their opinions.
  7. He should use games more than drills in training, so that the game itself becomes the teacher.
  8. He should use the Guided Discovery method of learning with his young players, employing more questions/problems which they must answer/solve for themselves. This ensures greater participation and attention, deeper knowledge of the game and greater retention of lessons learnt, helping to create decision-makers on the pitch.
  9. He should be able to use different games/variables/progressions in training to keep his players interested and ensure steady progress, always challenging the players, but not overstretching them, so they develop in a continuous experience of success.
  10. He will need a lot of patience and perseverance, bearing with the foibles of young growing children, and allowing them to develop steadily and naturally.  He will also need the moral courage to defend his players against the pressures from the other adults who demand more than is fair from the players, especially with regards to results.

Below is a table comparing an ideal modern coach with an extreme example of traditional coaching in an environment of “Winning at all costs.”

MODERN COACH

TRADITIONAL COACH

PLAYER-CENTRED

  • The player’s  innate potential is valued
  • Collaborative learning with the coach
  • Players empowered  through involvement

COACH-CENTRED

  • The player is considered an  “Empty vessel”
  • The Coach as the font of all wisdom
  • Players are not as engaged

DEVELOPMENT FIRST

  • Long term development strategy
  • Recognizes the time it takes to develop
  • Model with progressive curriculum
  • Children are allowed to be children
  • Players experience all positions
  • All players get a fair chance
  • More rounded, creative players

WINNING AT ALL COSTS

  • Short term winning all important
  • Must have immediate results on the pitch
  • The next game is all that matters
  • The adult game is forced on children
  • Early specialization to win games
  • Bigger stronger players get most play
  • Obedient competitors but  lacking in flair

HAS A PLAN

  • A complete Model for Optimal Development
  • Age-oriented curriculum
  • Step by step approach to coaching
  • Covers all topics comprehensively
  • Players can reach their full potential

RANDOM TOPICS ONLY RELATED TO WINNING

  • A collection of hints, tips and drills
  • Not usually age-appropriate
  • Pressured approach to winning
  • Topics mainly related to winning
  • Talent is often wasted

GAME-ORIENTED

  • Global Method (Games) for “open” skills
  • Integration of technical, tactical,  physical and cognitive elements of the game
  • Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU)
  • Simplified Games at the heart of training
  • Exercises for correction after the game
  • Greater motivation for players in training
  • Greater transfer to the real game

DRILLS ORIENTED

  • Analytical Method (Drills) for “closed” skills
  • Segmentation of each element
  • Conditioning using exercises
  • Game usually as a reward at the end
  • Conditioning drills  before the game
  • Little motivation for players in training
  • Poor transfer to the real game

GUIDED DISCOVERY

  • Active learning
  • Dialogue
  • Effective questioning
  • Deeper learning experience
  • Greater retention of learning
  • Create Decision Makers

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Passive Learning
  • Monologue
  • One-way instructions
  • Often counter-productive
  • Poor retention of learning
  • Create obedient robotic players

COACHING SKILLS

  • Knows how to get the most from his players
  • Knows his topics very well
  • Modifies conditions/rules  to suit his players
  • Knows when his players are ready to progress
  • Skilled at asking questions
  • Uses a wide variety of stimuli
  • Gives players opportunities to discover things for themselves
  • Creates a healthy environment to stimulate creativity and game intelligence

COACHING SKILLS

  • Usually focused on winning
  • Focused on winning topics mainly
  • Usually does not use variables
  • Less aware of his players progress
  • Doesn’t usually ask questions
  • Often limited and rigid topics
  • Demands obedience and conformity to the accepted norms
  • Constant instruction frustrates creativity in players

POSITIVE ENGAGING ENVIRONMENT

  • Stimulation
  • Great variety
  • Encouragement
  • Progressive – Success builds on success
  • Motivated players

MILITARY BOOTCAMP

  • Fixing  “mistakes”
  • Limited variety
  • Pressure
  • Games and training often not age-appropriate
  • De-motivated players