Coaches all over are doing a superb job of providing players with ways to improve during the “Coronavirus shutdown”. While that should be their first priority it is also a perfect time for a coach to improve their own ‘game’. Following are some ideas to help improve your coaching. Do you have a coaching philosophy?
This is the statement you make (be it private or public) that you live by as a coach. Think of it as your mission statement. Here is an example of one that a young coach sent me:
My coaching philosophy is inspired by my passion for the game. I believe that my main goal should be to instill a love for the game in my players in a fun, safe, and educated way. I want to foster the development of my players through previous experiences I have had. While I feel that it is important for me to make my players better athletes, I want them to leave me being better people who are equipped with a good character that carries off of the field.
How’s does that match with yours? This was from a beginner coach who was age 18 at the time. A strong philosophy is your guide to dealing with all the issues we face in coaching. What are the core values that you want to have as part of your approach to coaching?
Write your own personal ‘guide’ or pull out the one you wrote years ago and see what, if anything, you would change. Perhaps you have gained – or are now gaining – a different perspective on the way you approach coaching. It is the starting point for your improvement.
- Can you make your training sessions more effective?
Regardless of the level you coach or the number of years you have coached – self-reflection is a key to improving. After each training session asking yourself what went right, what could have gone better and how will you make it better should be part and parcel of your “job”. Now take a look at some of your favorite sessions and ask yourself the following 3 questions:
- Are all parts of the session easily applicable to the game? – even a basic passing exercise can have a functional application (i.e. – in the popular box passing exercise): “pass to the lead foot as we would try to do in the game”. This simple instruction makes this exercise functional to a game.
- Are players getting multiple, challenging repetitions? (Did you know that just moving a shooting exercise 5-10 yards closer to the goal will increase repetitions significantly?) How else can you increase repetitions?
- Am I utilizing my Goalkeepers properly? They are perhaps the most important player on the team in terms of ability to win a game, but we do a poor job of incorporating them into our full session plan. Have a look at how you use them – are they always on their own or can they be improving technically and functionally within your various exercises? Can you put in places for passing exercises where they are receiving the ball and playing it with everyone in front of them – just as they are required to do a in a game?
- Practice your ability to analyze a game and improve your players.
- Do you have game films of your teams? If so, take some time to watch games to improve each individual as well as the team.
- Can you pick 1-2 things for each player that they can easily improve on when you get back to training. Some of many facets to look at:
- Weakside positioning defensively. In defense positioning is everything, so look at your players “starting positions” relative to the ball (as everything in the game is relative first to the position of the ball).
- Player movements right after they play the ball. Do they play and watch or play and adjust? You may find consistencies in players – some may be different in different parts of the field. The best forwards make themselves more dangerous right after they play the ball. Are your attacking players doing that and how can you help them via film review?
- Are the various lines staying connected or is there significant space between your back line and midfield? If so , when is that happening and at what times in the game (often this happens more later in the halves). How can you affect that so that your team stays together? Is there a certain player you can improve who is the key to keeping lines together?
- There are plenty of software programs that analyze games, but none more valuable than the “Eyeball Software” that we all have. Train your eyes to see where improvements can happen. Are breakdowns technical or tactical or both? Challenge yourself to find the ways to make those improvements in your players and team based on what you see.
While we are all being kept away from our players and teams, for the time being, we can really improve ourselves – hence improve our players by doing exactly what we are asking of them – practice by yourself. Above are just 3 areas where you can improve yourself as a coach.
Betters Coaches = Better Players = Better Teams Good luck, stay healthy and remember this:
“When we are through learning, we are through – period.”
Georgetown University Head Coach 22 years,
Director – Elite 300 Soccer Academy
Talent ID Scout US Soccer