In my capacity as a Coach for the Jersey FA Capita Centre of Excellence, our coaching team spends a massive amount of time watching local games; working in clubs with teams and working with fellow grass roots coaches.
In the past year I have committed to progressing further with my own Coaching development where I have completed and passed the FA Youth Module 3 Assessment to gain the FA Youth Module License; and also refreshed the Level 1 and Level 2 Coaching Badges. A process that was of great benefit and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially meeting many new coaches (young and old!) who are involved with Jersey Football and putting their time back into the game we love.
Working through these courses recently, and sitting in on several others over the years, one thread seems to stand out when I watch games and training sessions, and that is the transference of knowledge from the Coaching Courses to the Club environment.
Rightly so, to be a Coach of a junior Football Team, it is mandatory to pass the Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Football. This course is over 30 hours of learning that includes Theory sessions on Player and Coach development; The FA’s Respect Programme; Laws of the Game; An introduction to the FA's Long Term Player Development Model; An introduction to Football for All plus separate workshops the FA Emergency Aid, The Safeguarding Children in Football.
Also involved are the Practical elements of the course that provide an introduction to Warm up and cool down game related activities; Passing and control; Turning with the ball; Dribbling; Shooting; Heading; Goalkeeping; Individual Attacking; Individual Defending and Small sided games.
I’m sure you’ll agree, this is a terrific introduction for potential coaches to let them know what they’re setting themselves up for in the coaching trade!
Of course, the further you want to progress as a Coach, the more knowledge you will gain in each of the Four Corners and how to use an holistic approach to developing the players under your watchful eye.
Even at the very start of our coaching careers, we are introduced to the idea of player’s practice being relevant and realistic to the actual game of football and putting on creative practice sessions where the players can have plenty of repetition to improve development. In my humble opinion, this is an absolute key part to what coaching is all about.
We encourage players to be brave and take risks; to try the unorthodox; to be in an environment where making mistakes is actually ok; and to try to learn from those mistakes.
And from these practices assist players transfer their newly learnt or honed techniques, skills and knowledge to their match day performance.
If we are asking the players to do this, shouldn’t we be doing the same?
Some are, but for me, those coaches are in the minority.
In the past I have watched on as many newly qualified coaches, and also experienced coaches who have attended training courses and Coach Personal Development seminars, totally disregard their own learning and return to their previous mannerisms and characteristics by not putting into practice what they have learnt. If we as coaches are not trying to better ourselves, how do we expect to better the players we coach?
It’s easy to do, believe me I know, I have done it myself in the past. For me it took a real conscious effort to change elements of my own approach on how to deliver practice sessions, and I have deliberately asked for; and welcomed feedback from all involved and my peer coaches.
There are certain topics that I am less comfortable in coaching, however I have forced myself to get into the habit of pushing my boundaries and comfort zones; I now have the mindset to be brave, and just get out there and give it a go.
Recently on the Level 2 course I was handed Pressing in a Technique and Skills based Session and the next day given Aerial Control in a Small Sided Game. There is no shame in saying it really tested me putting together a decent session to deliver to my peers, colleagues and friends.
To be brutally honest, I got a bit of grilling from the tutor regarding my Pressing session, (in a constructive manner but a grilling all the same LOL) but this also opened a healthy debate amongst the coaches of when, where and why you would show opponents in field or out. So I understand what it’s like to put ourselves out there and open ourselves up for constructive criticism or feedback as we call it these days.
During the end of last season and so far into the current one, it appears some of the more popular practices include having queues of players lining up for the old 1-2 shooting practice and collecting their balls from here, there and everywhere.
Warm up for games where ‘star’ players’ talk to the head coach for 15 minutes whilst the rest of the squad run across the pitch several with another coach. No ball insight. Then when A ball is introduced, it’s the old favorite of piggy in the middle. One kid to win the ball of the other 15 players who stand in a circle.
These are just two examples of many, my point is, as qualified coaches, and sticking to the feedback notion; shouldn’t we be a bit more creative, inspiring and courageous with our coaching?
I would like to encourage other coaches to step up; to push themselves further; to effectively practice what they preach to their player’s week in week out and try to raise the whole standard of our coaching workforce by sharing ideas, sharing opinions, opening debates, discussing practice sessions, and sharing as much information with each other as we possibly can.
I invite you to join our local coaches on our facebook page ‘Jersey Football Coaches Forum’ and as the season gets into full swing, lets make this page as lively as we can. It will only be as good as the participation from each one us.
Old School laps around the pitch... here's what Jose thinks....
'Have you ever seen a pianist run around his piano before sitting down to unleash a masterpiece? In our methodology we don't send them on laps around the pitch either'
- Jose Mourinho