Roles of the Football Coach
Skills and qualities of a good coach
The beliefs, expectations and personal qualities will have influence on the style and method of coaching employed, however a commonality of knowledge and skills can be identified that underline and underpin quality and effective coaching. These include:
Teaching players how and when to use skills and techniques in football matches.
Asking appropriate questions, using demonstrations, providing clear explanations, active listening and observing what players do.
Improve performance through a progression of guided practices.
Actively leading and motivating players before, during and after training sessions & matches.
Promote fair play and maintain the spirit as well as the laws of the game.
The planning and preparation of sessions designed to meet the needs of the players under their supervision and ensure all the health safety aspects in doing so.
Motivate through being enthusiastic, encouraging and by setting SMART targets.
Delivering and controlling each coaching session to ensure safe practice.
Analysing and evaluating performances (both players and own) and guiding the appropriate progression and any remedial correction.
The organizational and administrative skills to ensure that all arrangements, paperwork and specific requirements are delivered accurately and on time.
Respecting the needs of individuals and treating all players fairly.
Developing their players’ independence by encouraging and not being afraid to let players contribute to a shared responsibility for their learning.
Developing individuals as people as well as footballers.
Adapt coaching style to meet individual needs of players.
Being able to develop a mutual trust, respect and commitment.
Positive recognition of achievement and progression, however small.
The ability to communicate effectively & clearly with players, officials, parents, coaches and any other people or organisation that has an interest in any of the players under your supervision.
Adhere to the FA, FACA and Sports Coach UK Codes of Practice.
Alongside these skills, personal qualities of enthusiasm, patience (with all players, particularly with children), open-mindedness, fairness, knowledge of the game, reliable, persuasive, responsive to changing needs, desire for on-going learning, confident, be able to empathise, non discriminatory and have a pride in personal appearance.
Rules defining conduct and behaviour
Running alongside the Laws of the Game, the Football Association Code of Conduct is designed to set the standards of acceptable behaviour of ALL those involved in the game at every level. Amongst it’s expectations and aspirations are;
- Being a vital part of the community.
- Opposed to discrimination of any kind and promotes measures to prevent it from being expressed in whatever form.
- Committed to fairness in dealings with all involved in the game.
- Rejects violence of any nature by anyone in the game.
- Demands the highest standards in financial and administrative behaviour.
- Recognises the sense of ownership shared by all participants in the game at any level including supporters.
- Uphold any relationship between all involved in the game based on mutual trust and respect.
Whilst this Code of Conduct covers all participants involved in football at all levels it is a broad charter and each relevant participant has a duty of care to abide by its expectations and spirit. To this end specific codes have been written to reflect the standards outlined by the FA Code of Conduct, for coaches, players, match and team officials.
Coaches are expected to abide by in addition the FA Code of Conduct, the FACA (the FA Coaches Association) Code of Conduct that is designed to provide guidelines for coaches to promote fairness and equality in football and the Code of Conduct for Sports Coaches (Sports Coach UK).
Key Factors from Values Statement
- Ensure participants have positive experiences
- Demonstrate honesty, integrity and competence
- Understand and act on your responsibilities
- Protect the concept that participation is also for fun & enjoyment as well as achievement.
- Promote a professional image
Influences on Coaching Style & Behaviour
- Avoid discrimination of any kind
- Encourage decision making in players
- Provide lots of encouragement & positive feedback
- Always be seen to be fair
- Make sure that sessions and progressions are appropriate for age and experience of participants.
- Always have a session plan, be prepared to adapt it if it isn’t working as expected and evaluate honestly after every session for continuous improvement.
- Adhere to all health & safety regulations to maintain a secure and safe environment in which players can enjoy their sessions.
- Encourage involvement regardless of ability
- Focus on personal development rather than solely competition.
- Be punctual and look the part. Always have clean kit, as first impressions are important.
Examples of Fair Play
- Handshake prior to kick off between opposing teams, officials and coaching staff.
- Handshakes at the end of the game between participants.
- Accepting the decision of referee without complaint.
- Being supportive of other members of the team.
- Maintaining a positive attitude.
- Kicking ball out of play to allow treatment to injured player.
Examples of fair play in games
- Paulo Di Canio (West Ham v Everton) – catching ball in penalty area when it was easy to put ball in the net to allow treatment to injured Everton keeper.
- Gary Johnson (Manager of Yeovil) – instructed his players to allow opposition to score in a cup game when his team had scored directly from a ball that was put out of play for the treatment of player.
Examples of unfair play in games
- Roy Keane (Manchester United v Manchester City) – horrific knee high challenge on Alfie Haaland, resulting a red card.
- Keith Curle and Mark Wright (managers of Chester City & Peterborough United) – refusing to shake hands after both games between the two teams, season 2005/06.
- Paulo Di Canio – (Lazio v Roma) – celebrating a goal with alleged Nazi salute to Lazio fans.
Action Planning for future Coaching Sessions
The purpose of developing an action plan for personal development is to challenge yourself both on understanding but also on effectiveness of your style.
The Action plan will produce a valuable reference guide to review past, and current performance trends.
Within the action plan identification of the success of linked sessions, and sessions that were of limited value.
Having self evaluated, what areas for improvement might you add:
- Organisational Changes
- Safety factors
- Timing, Grouping and Progressions
- Achieving session objectives
- Evaluating players strengths and weaknesses
- What worked well, and not so well
- Improvements for the next session
- Ask for feedback from the players
The most critical aspects of implementing an action plan would be to be honest and constructive. In addition the action plan should be consulted when planning your next training session as a tool for improvement. It should not only contain actions from you, but also fellow coaches, and players alike.
Organising a session to ensure group of players are controlled:
Initially this is managed by preparing the session. If the session is well prepared, then all the players will be engaged during the session. This will include all the key preparation areas of Marking out the cones, arranging bibs, check medical kit, playing surface, balls (inflate) and explanation of the coaching session to the assistants.
The key to control is then to ensure safety, enjoyable, and stimulating. Planning and Preparation becomes irrelevant if control is subsequently lost.
- Cut out distractions (Sun, parents, other groups, roads)
- Have a strategy for organising group, e.g. Number, Height, DOB
Effectively gaining players attention during a session:
- Establish a procedure for stopping and starting- e.g. stop, stand still, or whistle.
- Coaching position. So general organisation can be seen, and able to move to individuals.
- Voice control- Vary pitch, volume and tone. Don’t just shout
- Eye Contact- Stand close but not so threatening, kneel, crouch with children.
Ensuring the players understood your instructions at any particular point:
Check the understanding of the player.
- Ask them to repeat the instruction
- Ask for a demonstration, if not correct then demonstrate yourself.
- Provide feedback
- Coaching Children – Considerations & Adaptations
Be aware of the fact that children do not tolerate exercise as well as adults and that they are significantly less aware of their own limitations. As they tend to breathe more often than adults they lose more water through their breath. Make sure that are well hydrated throughout the session or match.
As children breathe more quickly, but less deeply than adults the extraction of oxygen is less efficient. As such be mindful that young children have to work harder to provide the oxygen to their muscles.
They are also more susceptible to heat loss and gain so weather conditions also play an important role in the way a session should be conducted.
As children develop, physically towards puberty additional considerations, such as growth spurts changing their body shape, height and weight and an increase in self awareness, shyness and sensitivity to these bodily changes that they are experiencing. In girls the onset of the menstrual cycle needs to be considered, as it is common for girls to experience abdominal pain, tiredness and general discomfort during this phase of their development.
Be conscious of the amount of time children spend playing and training. Over use can lead to injury and problems in later life caused by the repetitive demands being made on the muscles, joints and tendons without giving sufficient time to allow these areas of the body to repair.
A sign of overuse in children is commonly referred to as ‘growing pains’. These are usually associated with injuries to the lower back, knees, hips, shins, ankles and heels. The reasons being that these are where the child’s bone growth and maturity is quite often ahead of the development of the tendons, muscles and ligaments. This in turn causes stress to the joints and / or skeletal attachments. Be aware of this during the major growth spurts experienced by children between 11 and 15 years. involvement in football and other sports.
Be aware of the players’ motivation for playing and manage this expectation.
The use of S.S.G’s (2v2’s / 3v3’s / 4v4’s) and whole part whole coaching techniques (6-12 age groups)
S.S.G’s are important as they allow players to develop and understanding of the skills of the game at a level appropriate for them. It allows active participation and aids their development of decision-making skills.
Decision-making can be adapted by altering the pitch size (larger areas and fewer players help develop techniques such as dribbling, and long passing. Smaller pitch areas could be used to develop turning, close control and short passing), the number of players and by adding restrictions e.g. number of passes or number of touches.
Football sizes are an important adaptation; size 3 for 6 – 8, size 4 for 9 – 11 with the introduction of the regulation size 5 should be made by the age of 12.
The timings of games needs to be split differently for younger players by having the game divided into 4 instead of halves (e.g. a forty minute game would be 4x10 minutes as opposed to 2x20 minutes), allowing a more frequent window for them to have a drink and rest.
Training Methods & Exercise to Improve Physical Fitness
- Endurance – 12 minutes runs / swimming / ‘bleep test’ / fartleck training
- Strength – weight training (free weights) / resistance training
- Speed – shuttle runs / sprints
- Agility – ladders / slaloms
- Power – weight training using heavier weights with fewer repetitions, helps explosive nature of speed.
- Flexibility – yoga / Pilates / swimming / core stability exercises
The above should be supervised by a qualified fitness trainer/ gym instructor.
Methods for communicating with players
Verbal, conveying a message that can be understood but remembering that there is a balance between it’s content and form. It must have congruence (words matched by pitch, tone and speed) as the way information is conveyed can hold greater meaning than the actual words.
Asking open-ended questions to encourage player participation in the learning process.
The use of positive and specific feedback will help players understand and take the appropriate corrective action.
Non-verbal, through our posture, body language, eye contact, gestures, physical contact facial expressions and respecting personal space.
Actively listening to the message, maintaining the appropriate level of eye contact throughout. This will convey to the person delivering the message that you are interested in what they have to say.
Observe players and then use practical demonstrations to act as visual aids, again helping the learning process develop in an effective manner.
Drawing diagrams of a session can also help understanding, remembering to explain them to the group, ask them and let them ask you, questions to check their understanding of what is expected. You can even go as far as actually videoing the session and allow the players to watch and evaluate it later.
All the work carried out in the session and on the pitch contributes to communicating the message a coach wish to convey to his players.
By asking players to evaluate and reflect after each session or match and then feedback to the group what they believe they have learnt and how they feel about it. This can either be in written form or communicated verbally to the group at the next session.
Effective Communication with Players
The features of effective communication
Communication has to be clear and honest between coaches, players, parents and officials in order to develop understanding and build good relationships on all sides. It can be delivered in both a verbal and non-verbal manner, each is important and each has a part to play in managing the lines of communication effectively.
Communication is two-way process. It has a number of facets including negotiation, listening, encouragement, consoling, and arguing. However communication is most effective in a coaching capacity when take the time to understand their players, this is made much easier when the coach asks open questions, and then is prepared to listen to the answer provided.
Through these questions you are asking people to think, evaluate, judge and collect information. In doing this you are allowing them to have ownership for their own development. Too much instruction from a coach will impede the involvement and enjoyment of the players.
Effective use of the voice components or paralanguage, altering tone, rhythm, speed or pitch will help to gain and more importantly retain people’s attention. These adjustments help to make what you have to say clear and understood especially if the message and information is delivered in a short and simple manner and for some can have greater meaning than the actual words themselves.
Whilst verbal communication is vital, the majority of our daily communication with people is non-verbal; including the way the words are spoken over 90% of the information is conveyed non-verbally. Gestures that qualify as non-verbal communication include, our body language, posture, facial expressions, gestures (applauding, nodding etc), physical contact, being mindful of an individual’s personal space and the way we use eye contact. Our appearance can say a lot about to people we meet even before we speak a single word.
In all of our communication there needs to be congruence between what we saying and what message our non-verbal signals are sending out. If we expressing our happiness verbally it is important to remember that our body language and tone also need to reflect that too, otherwise we are in danger of delivering a mixed and confusing message.
Demonstrations also play a role in effectively communicating with people, it is important to remember that visual aids help to paint a picture.
As well as the messages we send out, the way we receive information is also vital in the process of effectively communicating. Like any coach, players also want to know that they have been listened too and understood. The most effective method of ensuring this message is delivered back is by paraphrasing what you understood the person to have said, including a question yourself for clarification on any points that may have been unclear in the original message. Listening to the content of the message, observing the speakers body language, preparing mentally to listen and listening with empathy are all signs of active listening, making sure we are receiving the messages effectively.
Providing positive & specific feedback will also help make communications effective as well motivating and helping as part of the on-going learning process to reduce future errors.
What we see, feel and hear are all vitally important in the learning process and the message we deliver in each of these areas must be appropriate, clear and understood if our communication is to be consider effective.
- Ask open questions.
- Voice components, alter tone, pitch or speed to emphasise a point and hold player attention.
- Keep information short and simple.
- Maintain a smart appearance.
- Actively listen, paraphrasing for clarification.
- Positive & open body language.
- Have congruence between what we say and what our gestures, posture and facial expressions demonstrate.
- Respect personal space.
- Use encouraging or consoling physical contact, a pat on the back or hand on the shoulder.
- Use demonstrations to give people a vision of what we are asking of them increasing their understanding.
- Provide positive & specific feedback.
- Learn, remember and use people’s names.