I recently had a university lecturer who, despite being a very popular researcher, said in one of my lectures that a coach cannot change their coaching style. Needless to say I instantly tuned out of whatever else he had to say as I thought it was such an uninformed statement. I regularly change my coaching style depending on who I am coaching and what I am coaching them. I wouldn’t coach a brand new 5 year old girl the same way as a men’s team for example. Over the past year I have tried different methods of coaching with one of my groups and I feel I have got so much out of the sessions as well as seeing such a great development from the group. I thought I would share my insights into the different coaching styles I have used this year with my group and how I feel they have reacted to each one.
I started off at the start of the year using my “normal” coaching style with this group. Typical game related practices, quite often using small sided games with conditions and mixing it up between letting them try things and giving guidance. Generally the topics were the normal type of topics I would use again, for example when to play forwards etc. The girls seemed to take to it well, they learnt quite a lot at the time but at this time of year I find myself going back over things again to reinforce some things.
THE PROBLEM SOLVING METHOD
I then used problems as the aims of my session. Players would be given a problem to solve at the start of the session and we would play different SSGs with different conditions and overloads to get the problems out. I wrote about this in one of my previous posts. We had more discussions around what to do and then let the girls go try it with some reminder drive by coaching. The girls seemed to really develop their problem solving skills and started to understand the game better. I probably saw less development over a short space of time but by the end of the block they had really come on.
I only used this for a short block but it was great fun. We did lots of technical and ABCs practices and lots of constant practices. I tried to make it really interesting by adapting the equipment and making it a bit competitive. The girls seemed to enjoy the different practices and it allowed me to work really individually with players to tweak techniques to help them improve. There was lots of repetition of the same action but by having the different activities the sessions were kept interesting. The girls now use these games as arrival activities that they can come in and organise themselves.
I am now on a block where I asked the players what they want to improve on and I have planned the sessions so that every player has a different outcome to achieve. We have done games where each player must achieve their individual challenge for the team to win, I have given each player a different restriction when playing a match. We have had different individual technical/skills practices to get out what each player wants to work on. Players have also been given the chance to practice what they feel they need to practice on for 10 minutes. The players have really bought into it and have supported each other to achieve their targets as well as being focused on their own. I have been incredibly impressed with these sessions and although it is much harder to plan it is definitely a fantastic move!
Overall I have gone through the year giving more and more ownership to the players, although I have given more and more ownership to the players I have actually had more planning to do as I am having to think much more about the individuals. I have definitely enjoyed trying different ways of coaching and I believe that if I had only used one style for the whole year I wouldn’t have seen the same progression across their whole development. Using a range of coaching styles and methods has been important to both player and coach development.