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Coaching Theory

Curriculum Building & Session Planning | Coaching Theory 


Four Corner Model | Coaching Theory



The Teaching Methodology | Coaching Theory


#1 | Recognize

Identify the mistake by the player. Was the error a ‘technical’ error of poor execution or was the error a ‘tactical’ error of poor decision making. It’s not possible to stop and correct every single mistake, so be selective of the correct ‘coaching moment’ and be sure to remain on topic, correct to the theme of your session plan.

#2 | Analyze

Find out what the mistake was. Why did the shot go over the crossbar, why was the pass misplaced, why did the 1 vs. 1 dribble fail? There is a reason, it’s never bad luck, evaluate what went wrong and how to correct it. Provide alternative solutions to any given soccer-specific problem; ideally with the help and understanding of the players concerned. Ensure that the players comprehend by validating their knowledge with questions, by guiding players to create their own solutions makes for more intellectual players rather than robots who merely follow the coach’s orders.

#3 | Rehearse

Provide the players concerned the opportunity to run through the discussed corrections and alternative solutions so a clear and accurate picture can be seen before returning back to the pressures of the training activity. Ensure that all players are engaged in the process. Try to coach the bigger picture and not just focus on the immediate player involved; suggest and recommend how each player connected to the play should respond to the revised passage of play.

#4 | Restart

Find a realistic method of restarting the game that recreates a similar scenario to the moment that you stopped the game. Evaluate whether the restart was successful enough to allow play to continue.

It is important to recognize that this whole process or some variation of this teaching methodology needs to be completed in a very short space of time. The players learn more through the repetition of the activity and less through verbal communication, also youth players can become disinterested by repeated or lengthy stoppages with too much talking. There is a balance between educating your players versus losing the atmosphere of your training session with boring lectures.

Top 15 Tips | Coaching Theory

#1 | What to Avoid

Avoid humiliation as a forfeit or punishment. Humiliation is not a preferred forfeit.

Avoid exercise as a forfeit or punishment. Running laps or doing press ups is not a preferred method of forfeit; coaches should be trying to encourage correct athletic behavior not taint it.

#2 | Coaching Position

Ensure that you can view all your players at all times. Patrol the perimeter of the playing area and enter the middle when you need to make a coaching point. Don’t address a group with players behind you, have everyone in your field of vision. And have everyone attentive to your coaching.

#3 | Goalkeepers are part of Soccer And part of training

The goalkeeper has specific individual training requirements, but GK’s should be involved in outfield training sessions as much as possible. Minor modifications can be made to plenty of training exercises to accommodate a goalkeeper, and they should be accommodated.

#4 | T on T Time on Task

All learners, when learning any discipline, learn by doing. If you want to learn the piano, learn Spanish or learn soccer, the very best method is to keep doing it again, and again, and again. Coach’s talking time is much less valuable than a player’s playing time, ensure that the contact time with players is maximized with playing and not over talking…or prolonged resting, or lengthy drinks breaks, or waiting in lines etc.

Coaching points must be concise, and consider if it is necessary to stop a full session to address individual players unless it is appropriate to do so; coach 1 to 1 or in small groups rather than halting an entire training exercise.

#5 | Elimination Games

Elimination games remove a player from participating in an activity usually because they have failed to perform that activity to the required standard. If a player is eliminated then they are robbed of the opportunity to practice and therefore get better; perhaps good enough to avoid elimination next time. Elimination has a reverse trend. Elimination from participation just accentuates the divide, so avoid elimination games at all costs.

If players do lose then allow a method of re-entry into the game that avoids humiliation or exercise as punishment e.g. five juggles and you re-cycle back in the game etc.

#6 | Positive Reinforcement

Be positive at all times and encourage good play rather than condemn poor play. Everybody responds better to support than to criticism; players are the same. If players are not performing how you want them to…then look at your session plan before you look to blame them.

#7 | Learn Players Name

This really does help with bonding between a coach and their players. Creating a strong connection and social bond within the group dynamic is important; learning names creates a more sincere environment. Take the courtesy to learn some relevant information about your players.

#8 | Consistency of Commands

It is helpful for players to have consistency of the commands and terminology used on the coaching field; this will aid with the explanation of rules and will define the coaching point with more clarity.

#9 | Be Concise with your Commands

It is valueless for the player when a coach shouts generic commands i.e., “send it”, “boot it”, “make a run”, “try and score”, “under control” or “…better quality”. Provide detail and information with your commands to add validity and solutions to your coaching.

#10 | Demonstrations Don’t talk; SHOW

Demonstrations are so much more effective than verbal explanations, where possible show what you want rather than saying what you want. Ensure that demonstrations are executed exactly how you want the players to repeat. If you cannot demonstrate yourself then assign a player who can show the element in the most correct manner.

Don’t show players what not to do.

#11 | Stay on Theme

Sessions should be planned via the Season Plan to encompass the full range and spectrum of soccer to ensure a well-rounded and complete player. However, each training session should center around one theme or topic with limited, minimal or no deviation into adjacent themes. Trying to teach every aspect of soccer too quickly is confusing and exasperating for the players; stick with one theme at a time and master components of soccer in consumable segments.

#12 | Small-Sided Games (SSG’s) Why?

4 vs. 4 is an essential soccer environment for youth development. Small-Sided Games allow intensity, touches and maximized participation for all players involved, and for all players to be involved. Every vital component of the game is realized during small sided soccer and by limiting the number of players and by rationalizing the field conditions players receive maximum exposure to game-play understanding and genuine involvement. (3 vs. 3 is the staple of the very young players for the same reasons).

#13 | In-The-Game Coaching

While some training sessions can appear heavily technically orientated there is ample opportunity for game play understanding to be developed and those coaching moments should be maximized within the Game Specific and Conditioned Match Play environment. These components can be opportunities to introduce and reinforce more of the tactical aspects of the game.

Youth soccer players will make plenty of mistakes but it is advised to refrain from trying to shout advice to players while they are ‘in the moment’, it is better to allow the player to make a decision and then to coach the player after the moment about possible alternative decisions. There is enough pressure on players already that the youth player will not be able to hear, understand and then react to a coach’s advice ‘in the moment’. The game field is not a chessboard where the coach can influence every move, allow the players to be ‘guided’ to ‘discover’ good decisions, not just be told the best idea through the eyes of a coach.

#14 | Coaching Points Coaching or Managing | Coaching or Commentating?

It is not enough for a coach just to arrange marker discs, hand out colors and oversee the running of a safe activity. The coach’s responsibility is to teach the game and content knowledge cannot be skipped over. The knowing of coaching points separates a coach who can teach the game against a phony who just manages drills. Ensure that coaching points are known and referenced on the session plan to maximize the player’s education.

Merely commentating on events as the training activity unfolds is not the same as coaching. Players require knowledgeable advice, detailed correction and to be taught how to improve; just remarking on passages of play is not the same as analyzing a player’s development.

#15 | Professionalism

Being accurate and diligent with the minutiae and detail is the difference between being good enough to scrape through or truly providing a strong education for your players. Professionalism in regard to every facet of coaching is the priority concern; some examples of professional requirements are…

• Uniform – dress appropriately for this important environment, it does get noticed

• Punctuality – do not be late, this doesn’t go down well with anyone concerned

• Presentation of equipment – set out your lines and field markings with care and attention, straight lines and same colored markers are achievable

• Attitude – Be confident in your abilities and bring energy to your training environment


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