1. Shared Ownership & Collective Identity

Before the training session even kicks off players can build levels of responsibility, shared ownership independence. One of the biggest myths of youth development coaching is that the coach must be in control of every part of the session. Whilst purposeful planning is essential, player ownership develops character, accountability and a positive professional attitude.  By giving the players simple responsibilities such as preparing the warm up square, collecting the equipment and coning off the drinks area, constructive behaviour and disciplined thinking styles emerge.  Players are more likely to habitually recognise the importance of their contribution to others and the team, if given the opportunity to contribute constructively. As the relationship coach, recognise and reward positive behaviour, reinforcing its importance through appreciation. Why? Players learn and believe they have value to each other and in turn are also valued.

  1. Self Regulate to Accelerate – Let the Players PLAY!

Allow and encourage players to think through, process and produce solutions to situations in the session. If the session is good enough, it will stretch the players’ current level of ability (technically, tactically, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially) and at times they will need more than one go at learning and overcoming the new challenge. The best coaches allow their players time to self-regulate and self correct to develop independence and confidence especially when overcoming mistakes or set backs. Excessive intervention from the coach only acts to build and unhealthy dependence from the players; “we need you to think for us”. On match day, only 35% of what is bellowed from the touchline actually reaches the players anyway. So to avoid unhealthy dependence, allow the players to collectively and creatively work to improve, understand the pictures and produce the required skill or technique. This method  requires courage from the coach in recognition that players will only develop to capacity for critical thinking (performance under pressure in the absence of the coach) if given the opportunity to think freely, make mistakes, adapt learn and grow. In the long run, this builds a greater internal voice of confidence, belief and self efficacy.

  1. So, what exactly was so good about training this week?

The coach can be firm fair, in control and still able to listen to the views and perceptions of players. Creating strong rapport, relationship and trust provides a sturdy foundation to build from throughout the season. In constructing opportunities for group discussion before, during and after matches (especially with young players) the coach gains insight into the thoughts and feelings of the players. Using question and answer sessions for 2 minutes pre and post game is a great way to check understanding and gage progress. In this open constructive learning environment, players build social confidence, enhance communication skills and heighten perceptual awareness. In creating the ultimate learning zone for young players, coaches improve game understanding and development, as well as enhancing positive emotional intelligence.