Most of the sports that
are currently predominant in our culture involve the coach as an active
participant. Although the coach is along the touchline, in the coaching
box or on the bench the opportunity for being overly involved with the
players constantly exists. These opportunities are aside from the usual
timeouts or substitutions. These typical stoppages in play already
contribute to many sports being coach oriented rather than player
oriented. Combine the standard loud encouragement( i.e.- screaming &
yelling ) with animated cheerleading and you have an excess of over -
Soccer is different than most sports. The involvement of the coach is
secondary to those participating in the game: the players. While coach
oriented activities ( basketball, baseball, American football ) demand,
and allow for, a high degree of involvement by the coach during
competitive games, soccer is different. It would be more appropriate to
contend that soccer coaches do their work and prepare their teams during
the week. By the time it comes to the game on Saturday morning it is up to
the participants to act, make decisions, and play! It is essential that
the youth soccer coach understand their role. If continuous over -
involvement during the game is not the best way to assist the players then
the coach has a responsibility to alter their behavior and learn to take a
different tact. Sports such as baseball and American football are what we
would refer to as "set up" sports. Between pitches (baseball) or plays
(American football) time and opportunity exists for diagrams to be drawn
or the coach to reposition an outfielder. Soccer does not allow for
similar stoppages since play is continuous and fairly uninterrupted.
Players must be allowed, and ultimately able, to think and make decisions
on their own. They must learn to solve problems during the game. This self
- sufficient type of thinking necessitates that players learn from the
game and utilize any and all information that they receive and process
towards finding solutions to the problems they encounter.
TAKE SOME TIME TO EVALUATE WHETHER YOU MIGHT BE
Do you find that you are hoarse and
your voice is strained following a game?
Is the information that you give
your players during half - time emotional but non-specific in terms of
assisting them solve the problems they encounter?
Do you utilize catch phrases such
as "suck it up, boys" or "no pain, no gain" in attempting to motivate
Do you find that you are sweating
and running just as much during the game as the players?
Are your pre-game, half time or
post-game speeches similar to the president's state of the union
address? In addressing the players do you ramble and cause the players
to wonder "What's his/her point"?
Are your remarks and instructions
made during the game and to players repetitive and redundant?
Is this information general,
non-specific jargon and cheerleading altering the player's performance?
Are you reluctant to allow players
to make their own decisions during a game? Are you constantly barraging
players with instructions during the game?
Do you coach in absolutes such as
always or never?
Do you choreograph and arrange
players into strict positions with instructions such as "never go out of
your zone" or "defenders never cross midfield"?
Have you instructed players to
refrain from passing the ball to certain teammates because their present
level of ability is, from your adult perspective, inadequate?
Do you spend an excessive amount of
time in practice on throw-ins, kick-offs, corner kicks or penalty kicks?
Are you utilizing methods of
training that do not allow for players to acquire and improve technical
skill, tactical decision making, physical stamina and confidence? (i.e.
- dribbling through cones, standing in lines awaiting a turn)
Do your practices resemble games or
activities that produce the same degree of movement/stimulation as a
Are you attempting to improve the
team's level of fitness by minimizing the time the players have contact
with the ball?
Do you view the game as a contest
based only on fitness that leads to a preoccupation with running?
Are you openly emotional or upset
when addressing the players to the point that they stare at you while
thinking "what is he/she so disturbed about"?
As the coach do you have difficulty
accepting a realistic approach to winning and losing? Do you believe
that winning is synonymous with player development?
Do enjoy and have fun coaching
Are you consistently aggravated and
apprehensive about coaching?
Do the players seem to enjoy
playing because of the input and involvement of you, the coach?
games that youngsters play on Saturday mornings in their local leagues and
associations should be viewed as a vehicle for learning. The same is true
concerning their one, or two, days a week in practice. The acquisition of
playing ability is a long-term process that begins at the ages of 5 or 6.
It is unrealistic to expect youngsters at 10 or 11 years of age, and
younger, to have an adult perspective on the game. Because of their
maturity level youngsters are learning about the broadest parameters of
play. They are at a stage where development is the priority since the
acquisition of skill, elementary decision making and an appreciation and
passion for soccer are founded. Young players learn, and are a product of
their experiences. They learn more from their experiences ( games,
activities, and the environment ) than they do from the coach. The role of
the coach is to then organize and set up games and activities that the
players enjoy and learn from.
Unfortunately, the majority of over-coaching
occurs with youngsters who are between the ages of 5 to 11. It occurs, in
part, because of the "profile" of the average parent/coach. These
parent/coaches bring little practical soccer experience with them. At the
same time they are learning about soccer they are learning about coaching.
The availability of coaching education throughout state associations,
combined with the information that is presented in the courses, simplifies
coaching. Once youth coaches are exposed to this information they can
assume their role with greater effectiveness While coaches are somewhat
responsible to educate the parents of their players parents, in turn,
should evaluate the effectiveness of the coach: is my child learning to
play soccer or is the coach preoccupied with drills that only permit the
players to play at soccer?
Parents should evaluate the
approach the coach takes towards games: is the coach willing to allow
youngsters to play the game for themselves or is he/she absorbed with
their active, but unnecessary, participation? Is the coach most concerned
with making decisions for the players rather than accepting that the
players must make decisions on their own? Overall, there should be uniform
agreement and understanding between the parents, coaches and league or
association administrators on this matter. This shared responsibility
helps ensure that play remains a leisure activity with a long-term
interest of player development.
REMEMBER.....Play is a key word in player development!