Thoughts and feelings

“Success in grassroots football isn’t about how many trophies you win. Its about the difference you make to people’s lives” (Nick Levett, FA National Development Manager for Youth Football). This statement produced by the FA’s national development manager is one I believe through my experience within grassroots football that the majority of coaches do not follow this statement. However, I as one do, for me coaching children within grassroots football is about helping them to develop as not only young players but people, giving them the opportunity to express themselves which they may only have the chance to do on a football field, giving them the chance to play with their friends week in week out and most importantly having fun doing it.

One of my current coaching roles is working with Clifton Rangers u16’s as a volunteer coach. The grassroots club is a well organised and professionally run club which enables children to play and develop in teams from u6’s up to u18’s. This blog post will enable me to reflect and evaluation my planning and performance of the session I conducted with the u16’s last Thursday.

Firstly, as I have been fortunate enough to work with these players for many years I have been able to gather a great understanding of how these players work and what helps to develop them the best, there personalities and ability levels therefore, I now find creating session plans for them easy as I know what they enjoy and what they need to continue developing as young athletes. On the Thursday evening I delivered a session based around creativity and being willing to express yourself. I believe the session that I put on for them was a great success as each one of the 15 players present gave me feedback after the session on how they thought the session helped them personally and what they saw from others within the team that they didn’t think they were capable of. Furthermore, as I believed the session was a success I then thought to myself why was it a success? surely something didn’t go to plan, what could I have made better for them? and these were the ideas I came up with;

Firstly, as a coach one of my key themes is letting them play, if you let players play then they will naturally develop therefore, throughout this session I gave them large periods where I set them off with various games where each player began with a ball and let them play, this gave the players chance to express themselves and by me encouraging creativity and wanting them to try things they may have not tried before enabled them to learn and develop new skills that they may not have known they were capable of. Therefore, I believe that this was one of the strengths  of mine as a coach within this particular session.

Secondly, throughout each of my sessions I ask the players questions with them feeding me back the answers rather than me telling them where they are going wrong or what they need to improve on. This helps to get the players thinking about what they are doing and why they may be doing it. Also, by the players feeding back answers to me may help to improve there confidence as they have a reason in to why they may be doing a specific skill or why they made a certain pass. “When teaching your athletes tactical skills it’s a good idea to put the ball in their court by asking them question that make them think” (Craig A Wrisberg).

Although, these are two strengths I believe I possess as a coach after reflecting on the session that I delivered I found that albeit the session came across as a success to both me and the players there are still things I believe I could have made better within the session. One being there is a variety of ability within the team and although my session was based around creativity and players attempting new things I thought I could have set the more advanced players within the team individual tasks to challenge them and the less advanced players that may have only been attempting basic skills that they could do already, challenge them with more difficult skills to bring the creativity out of them.

Another improvement I could have made to my session would be when making a suggestion for the players to attempt something which may enhance development I sometimes throw numerous coaching points at them at once expecting them to remember everything I have just said to them rather than giving them one coaching points and then letting them play. Furthermore, this would help to develop my session if I broke things down into small sections which will help the players to remember things better. From my experience of playing when a coach is firing numerous coaching points towards you, you tend to switch off and only take note of one or two things that you have been told which could impact on your development, which is why I believe my session would have been improved if I broke coaching points down into small sections to help the players take in the information.

Overall, my feelings towards the session were positive as I believe the players learnt and had fun doing it which is the most important thing to be as a coach. I also think looking back on the session and reflecting on the whole process and finding areas of strengths and areas to improve and having fun doing it will only make me better as a coach starting my career.

Reference list:

Levett. N (No Date) Where every youth footballer counts available at: http://www.elmswellyouthfc.co.uk/football-quotes/  (Accessed 30th September)

Wrisberg. C (No Date) Sport Skill Instruction for Coaches (Accessed 30th September)