Coaching style

Being a coach, like anything else, is a matter of “wearing a different hat.” It is not the same thing as being a parent, a fan or a role model. The coach has responsibilities beyond these. In order to fill them he will have his own views and they will be filtered through his “coaching glasses,” a set of assumptions about the children, the game, coaching and his role in the process.

The Children
The Game
The Coach

The Children. They will either be active, i.e. curious, wanting to figure things out on their own, possibly stubborn, willing to learn through trial and error, needing to find their own answers to problems. Or they will be passive, simply vessels that have to be filled with the correct answers to all of their problems. Willing to accept the adult views as correct and subordinate their own to it.

The Game. The vision of how the game should be played. Listen to the words that the coach uses regularly, hustle, pressure, go, kick it long and a picture will emerge of what the coach values in the game. Is it a player’s game or the coaches game? Is a controlled build-up preferred to a quick counter attack? Will the team defend in the opponents half or drop back into their own?

The Coach. The coach can teach by leading, i.e. giving instructions, controlling, being at the centre of the activity and always having the answer. Or he can guide by offering ideas in place of answers, encouragement for the players to try their own solutions, covert instead of overt direction.

Coaching. How do children learn best? By learning the parts and then applying them to the whole? Or, by learning the whole and letting the parts take care of themselves? These questions are the focus of numerous books on childhood education and bring as much debate as how the game should be played.

Effective coaching is similar to being an effective doctor. First is the ability to diagnose the ailment. Next is the ability to prescribe the correct treatment. Finally, how to modify the treatment as the patient improves.

The important point in this model is that the different frames in the “coaching glasses” should support one another. Passive children won’t respond to a guiding coach. They’ll both wait for the other to take initiative. In the Dutch Vision the children are active, the coach guides, the game is centred around the player’s and they learn best by playing the game itself.