During my coaching session’s over the past week I have been doing some deep thinking into whether I truly believe I am helping the children develop their skills individually. I hear regularly many Sunday league coaches talk about how they have the best team and how they are the best coach at U11’s level because they went the season unbeaten and demolish teams week in week out 8-0 or more. This got me thinking, maybe you do have the best team in the region, maybe you do beat teams by 8 or more goals each week and maybe you did win 3 league titles in a row and have them in your trophy cabinet at home… But how many of the players have you actually made a difference to and delivered skills development sessions to help improve themselves as players, my thoughts would be not many.

This leads nicely into the first reflective coach practical session that took place last week where we were given tasks in groups to produce a short game based around 5 cards given to us that included things such as Invasion, Target and racquet games, Agility, Balance, Coordination. All these factors had to be clear to see when creating the game. After receiving these cards the first thing that was brought to my attention was what do I believe skill development is and what do the other coaches believe? Questioning each other on ones views and opinions surrounding skill development enabled us to create a clearer understanding on how we all coach and our values and opinions.

Questioning each other, I believe was a great way to begin a challenging and thoughtful process when trying to create a simple yet creative game that would challenge participants in the skill development area. In starting the process I had an early thought on how we were able to strip everything down to basic’s and a game we were able to use in order for it to tick all the boxes from the card given to us. So to start with I collected equipment which included tennis balls, cones and hurdles, strange right?. With this equipment we were able to come up with a simple yet creative game where 2 teams must catch the ball between each other and score through rolling the ball through the hurdles, yes creative, yes simple but how did we know the participants could catch?. We didn’t, which is where Cliff (our tutor) intervened and questioned whether this may be too difficult for some participants, he was right we needed to strip it down even, all the way back to basics to help develop the children’s ABC skills.

Which is what we did, we stripped it all the way back to where the children would be bouncing a larger ball to one another and introduced techniques we thought would help the participants develop their catching skills and then developed it into the tennis ball and different catching techniques to progress the game. Once stripping it down and thinking about what we were doing and why we were doing it enabled us to tick all of the boxes as we were creating a fun, basic, creative and challenging game for participants to develop their ABC skills in an environment where they were happy playing.

Reflective on last weeks session, it outlined to me that sessions don’t need to look the best with grids scattered everywhere or be the most detailed in terms of the skill being performed. The best sessions are usually the most simple ones where skills are broken down into the simplest form and children are given the opportunity to try things. Aiding skill development is about picking out key parts and working on them individually and then putting things together bit by bit. This session gave me the opportunity to think about how to break skills down and think how am I developing the participant through this.

“Skills development is exactly what a young player needs to advance their game”(Sharone Wright). This links back nicely to my first point regarding grassroots coaches believing their is nobody better because they have won league titles with a junior side. Winning league titles should not be important for a grassroots coach, developing a player should be, providing participants with games that help to enhance their ABC’s and individual skills will develop the participant more than being part of a team where they do the same thing every week compared to trying new things.

Development does not happen over night so as a coach being patient and stripping skills down to basics is the best way to provide your participant with learning opportunities and in the long run will help them develop skills to improve them as a player.

Reference:

Wright. S (2015) Available at : http://www.skilldevelopmentcoach.com, [Accessed 14th October 2015]

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