Hall of Famer, Keith Tabatznik, in his articles for FUNdamental SOCCER, “Coach: Improve In Isolation” wrote, “During the virus-shutdown might be the perfect time for coaches to improve their own ‘game.’ I asked others for input on the subject and Coach Tigran, Youth Development Phase Lead Coach, Barnet FC, UEFA PRO Licensed Coach, was kind enough to respond with the following…
“Coaching is one of the most responsible tasks that people can have. It is fascinating area but is not an easy area. You have to remind yourself why players are in the training sessions; what they want; what they need and why you are there. Here are some of my thoughts and ideas to consider when coaching:”
Get to know the person and then the player. Connect before you correct. Show them that you care not only with your words but also with your actions. Actions speak louder than your words; so speak less but when you speak be careful of the words you use. Be aware of what your body language communicates as well. Focus on the individual, what they want and what they need. Praising is important where there is a need for that, but praise the effort and not the outcome.
Environment is everything. First of all, create an environment that ensures the players’ safety and well-being. That environment should be engaging, boosting confidence, promoting creativity, and letting players express themselves without the fear of failure.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Be ready to change, tweak or adapt your sessions within seconds. It is ok if your session looks messy, don’t feel uncomfortable, learning is messy. You don’t need to have everything too organized, there is no need for everything to be so structured. There is no perfect session, but you have to plan it as a masterclass.
Manipulate the task. What you train is what you get. As coaches we are learning designers, so design realistic scenarios and situations that allow players certain opportunities for actions and consequences for their actions. Be ready to be surprised by the outcome of what you were expecting to see from the game. Remember that players need to have interactions with teammates and opponents in order to be able to solve problems consistently. Tasks should be challenging but always as a reference to the real game.
Increase or decrease the complexity in your practice games. Adding more numbers, adding more rules have to be in line with the capabilities of the players.
Make sure the players have as much ball contact time as possible. Let them master the ball, create a relationship with the ball, players should fall in love with the ball. Focus more on dribbling and protecting the ball; rather than the solution of a pass, which is trying to get rid of it and not protect it individually. Know the details of a technique but don’t be obsessed to correct the technique to perfection; there is no such thing as perfect technique! There is however a functional and successful technique that suits each individual.
Mix the age groups and the players with different abilities, the psycho-social interaction is very beneficial. There is no need to stick the players into certain positions including GK’s. Let them experience all areas of the game so that they will develop different technicotactical and psychosociological aspects of the game.
Involve the players in the feedback, let them take responsibility for their actions. Use the ‘Socratic method.’ Asking good questions is an art. However, keep in mind that understanding the game is not the same as understanding the game. So, go back to your session design and see if that speaks to the players. Give value to your questions.
Observe, Reflect, Review, Feel the Sessions. Coaches have to think about why they do what they do. It is necessary for the learning process.
As coaches, we have to consistently educate ourselves. Don’t educate yourself only around football [soccer], football is more than technique and tactics. Stay humble because knowledge is never enough.
The above is not in any particular order. It depends on your external factors and the culture you are in. Adapt, but keep in mind that if we don’t preach what we teach as role models; then we are coaches with a double standard.
Coach Tigran Tadevosyan
Youth Development Phase Lead Coach, Barnet FC
UEFA PRO Licensed Coach
Can be followed at: twitter @coach_tigran