Being responsible for a youth or adult sports team is an incredible experience and if you get the balance between tactics, communication and fun correct then success is just around the corner. I recently undertook an FA Level 1 course and am eagerly looking forward to next season as the coach of my local football team.
It doesn’t matter which division you play in or what standard your players compete at, the main element of all coaching and playing is to enjoy what you’re doing and to take part with as much enthusiasm as possible.
Although the coaching course that I attended was aimed at footballers, the same principles can be applied to all team sports and, from netball and hockey to rugby and gridiron, if your aim is to improve a team and have fun then check out the five areas below that should stand you in good stead.
It’s easy to stand on the side and bark orders and instructions at players during the course of a match however, if you really want to make a difference then make notes and communicate when there’s a pause in play. Communicating calmly and clearly will have a better effect and if you’re making notes during play then you’ll be able to be more concise during your half time or post match analysis. Note: Use a pad and paper, a white board with magnetic markers or even a lap top, to really communicate what you want the team to be doing during the next passage of play.
Rousing team talks are what being a coach is all about but sometimes it pays to be slightly less ‘Brave heart’ and a little more â€˜dear heart’ as you talk to players as individuals. This sort of level of communication really pays dividends and helps players really understand how they can improve and that you’re helping them to make a difference to the team’s success. By noting down examples of both positive and negative aspects of a player’s performance and speaking to them on a 1:1 basis you’ll really start to see improvements straight away.
Do your research
Watch your chosen sport on TV, DVD or You Tube and see how the professionals coach and what the best teams do to win. It’s obvious really but finding some examples of exactly what you’d like to see on the pitch from your players is an excellent means of communication. These days there are loads of hand-held screens that you can use to show your players what you’d like them to do. Also, watch live games and even other teams in your league because there’s always more that you can learn from other coaches and how to counteract their tactics.
All good teams train together in readiness for match day. If you’re getting together once a week, at least, then brilliant however, make sure that training is exactly this rather than just players having a laugh and mucking about. This is your chance to get your methods and tactics across in a relaxed atmosphere and although you don’t have to be really strict, ensuring that you have a structure or a training plan in place helps players improve as individuals and as part of the team. Drills, exercise and team talks are all ideal for training and getting together once a week is great for bonding too.
Aside from training your team should be socialising together to ensure that they’re getting the most out of each other on the pitch. Down the pub, charitable events, bowling nights and even small group tours away from home are all great methods of bonding and the more players know about each other then the deeper the level of understanding when it comes to match day. Playing for any sports team is all about having fun and if you’re able to get fit and improve your skill levels with people that you consider to be friends then there’s no greater feeling in the world.