Recently I read a journal article from a top soccer coach,Steve Harrison, from England who had coached the national team. He was asked to comment specifically on the coaching structure that was in place in Europe to develop the next generation of coaches. He stated that the structure taught you what to coach but not how to coach.I have coached children of different ages,abilities,gender and culture over the last four years. Although I may be competent in delivering sessions to develop the correct techniques to children as trained on the UEFA courses I have attended, the skills required to do this have come from the experience I have gained working with the children and the diversity of the challenges this creates. We have great responsibility as coaches in developing our children not just to become better players but also to help them mature as confident respectful people.
I have noticed that if I really want to have an impact on each child's learning, one of the main skills I must possess is patience. One question you can ask yourself as a coach is what impact on a child's development will it have if I shout,scream and criticize their mistakes. The chances are you will be seriously effecting the child's confidence. Patience therefore is a vital skill a coach must develop if they wish to develop the child accordingly. During the challenger club trainer program in the fall 2006, a common feature I noticed was the teams inability to transfer what was practiced during my coaching, into a match situation at the weekend. I asked myself what would a good coach do and what would a bad coach do. My conclusion was that if I was patient and persevered in practice what I was hoping to achieve, by encouraging and supporting them,eventually the teams would be able to achieve the goals and develop as I wished. A bad coach would do as already discussed,get frustrated,shout and scream.The reasons ultimately they can not transfer immediately what is being asked for by the coach may be due to confidence levels.
Coaches often mistake low confidence for not trying , but when confidence is low,you can find yourself thinking too hard and things stop becoming natural. Players become inhibited and more static,getting caught in two minds as to where to run and and what to do, there is less movement as a result,so everyone plays the ball simply,but often too safely/too cautiously. What I have also noticed is children will stop taking risks and try new things(i.e things that have been coached in practice).It's the observe of being confident when everyone wants a touch,movement off the ball is rife and it all seems natural to players and instinct takes over.
Children prefer coaches who encourage, support and expect mistakes to happen as part of the learning, to coaches who get frustrated,lose their cool and only give critical feedback rather than constructive which is required.The impact of this coaching style on the child is they stop wanting the ball,communication is poor,enjoyment and confidence is low and drop out from the sport is likely. Do you have the patience required to offer the support and encouragement your children are looking for? or do you need to anaylise your performance more closely to ensure you develop this skill to help every player in your care develop the confidence to achieve their potential?
Patience and praise works a lot better than criticism and shouting. What our children are looking for, is for us to create the right environments with sessions and games challenging and fun that will inspire them and nurture their love of soccer. Some children take longer than others to learn and others develop at different rates.The impact this will have on your coaching is that some practices may well have to be repetitive until all members of your team have grasped the skill your are attempting to coach.To keep children motivated it helps to be consistent and to give them frequent feedback. The role of the coach carries many responsibilities and to be an effective coach and gain the respect and trust of your participants you will need a range of skills to understand your players and of course yourself.
Enthusiasm,motivational,listening,analysis,inspirational are all attributes you will need. Without patience though, your participants will not gain the necessary confidence to develop and the chances are you will not be the effective coach your participants require you to be.