Tom and Ruben Oct 2nd
Coaches, we all want our players to make better decisions on the ball without needing the guidance of the coaches. Many of us wonder how we can make that happen and struggle to find a solution to that problem.
It is very important we create situations in which players are stimulated to learn by simply playing the game. Let the demands of the game be the teacher. Our role as trainer/coach should change from being an instructor who tells his or her players what to do to that of a facilitator. This model is player centered, not coach centered. The players are central in the learning experience. We have to design our sessions that way so that the focus is indeed on the players. The demands placed on the players in the game will teach the players how to play the game.
When a coach takes on the role of the facilitator he or she knows that the setup of the games will teach the players how to play the game. Keep the instruction (instructor – coach centered) to a minimum and guide players in the right direction. Keep players engaged by asking them questions. Make sure these are open ended questions so all players are forced to think about what they are doing.
In the last clinic, we mostly focused on games that will help increase the spatial awareness of our players. At a young age players struggle to understand the concept of shape which leads to bunching and direct play from goal to goal. This is sometimes a technical breakdown as the players are unable to control a ball under pressure of an opponent, but most of the time simply because they are unable to oversee the situation. Either way, players need to be exposed to these kind of situations on a regular basis in order for them to learn from these mistakes and develop.
In a small setting with less players around they are constantly forced to make decisions on and off the ball. Are players able to make the right decision on the ball given the game situation? Can they help each other out off the ball using the entire playing area given to them? By using a total of 4 small goals, or gates, players are forced to keep the field wide in order for them to score goals.
It is important to guide the players through these games. Let them discover a way to be successful and allow for players to make mistakes. Support their actions on the field, compliment them when they are doing things really well and ask them questions as they are playing. By using this method of coaching players are not only taught how to do something, but also why; when and where. Players will be stimulated to find the answer to all of these questions asked above which eventually will help them making better decisions on and off the ball. Players will get better by playing the game with the help of a coach who guides them in the right direction.
We should measure success in coaching by how long it takes the player to no longer need his coach.
US Soccer – Best practices for coaching soccer
Many of the exercises used in the clinic are worked out and will be up in the coaches’ corner as well. Below you’ll find a brief explanation of the exercises that can help you all prepare your sessions. The different exercises are all worked out on paper, but please don’t hesitate to reach out to me when you have any questions.
Director of coaching - Westfield Soccer Association