Are 85% of Coaches Really Poor?
Posted by Dean Holden at May 14th, 2015
by Richard Dalt, 2 May 2015
To produce better players we need better coaches at the very root of the game.
It has been crystal clear for years that England need to produce more intelligent, technical and fearless footballers in order to compete on the world stage. I have discussed previously that I believe until our culture changes at the very root of the game then our failings are destined to continue. We would produce far more players if we took away the pot luck element of the coach that kids are subjected to when they enter the game. Our culture has a significant effect on long term participation levels which are obviously of equal importance.
Since February I have kept a record of each team I have witnessed play at U7-9 for the entire duration of the game; I have seen snippets of many other games but it’s only fair to record data from an entire match. I have concentrated on 2 huge issues at the root of the game. The first is coach behaviour, particularly surrounding providing a constant commentary and making decisions for the kids or alternatively do they let them play. I also made some notes regarding how teams were set up with regard to specific positions.
Good – 5%
Satisfactory – 10%
Poor – 50%
Terrible – 35%
Good – allows the kids to play & make decisions. Offers praise and encouragement but no constant commentary.
Satisfactory – will often let the kids play & make decisions but at certain times will intervene and instruct/make decision on behalf of child.
Poor – provides a constant commentary throughout the game, telling kids what to do at almost every opportunity. Allows for very little or no independent decision making.
Terrible – provides a constant commentary not allowing independent decision making and in addition is openly critical of mistakes and perceived poor play.
Clearly the results are based on my perception but it’s not difficult to form an accurate measurement with regard to constant commentary and instruction as opposed to letting the kids play.
The results indicate that 85% of coaches are bellowing instructions at the kids and generally taking away decision making. Assuming that there are 8 players in each team then 136 out of 160 children are on the end of negative coaching behaviour which is quite astonishing. Assuming those kids stay within that environment how are they going to develop to their full potential and ultimately fall in love with the game?
None – 5%
Some – 35%
Rigid – 60%
None – the kids were allowed complete freedom to move into any area of the pitch and not placed into a set position by the coach.
Some – the players were laid out into positions but this was slightly more flexible than the rigid category. Kids were not restricted completely to their own zones as is often the case within the rigid category.
Rigid – a set formation kids sticking to certain areas of the pitch on instruction.
Over half of the sides I watched played rigid positions, only 1 game was a 7v7 the rest were 5v5. There were 35% that played with some positions but slightly more flexibility and by this a typical example is that they would always ensure that 1 kid was defending whilst the rest were free and in some cases this would be 1 defender and 1 attacker with 2 free players, certainly far from ideal. I’m not sure how these kids are going to develop and experience a wide variety of situations all over the pitch without being allowed any freedom!?!? No doubt setting out in a rigid system at U7 will produce a better chance of winning and herein lies the big issue.
On reflection the data I’ve collected is restricted to a limited number of games and only 2 leagues however I am led to believe these issues are replicated throughout the country. How can the kids make their own decisions and develop their skills and fully enjoy the game under such restrictive environments?!?! I dread to think what the training sessions are like at these clubs!!
As detailed in previous articles, CFA’s, leagues & clubs need to work together to produce better environments (small numbers are trying) but I genuinely wonder do they even accept we have issues?!?!
Thanks for reading.
Appreciate any likes & shares of my new facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/justletthemplayfootball
Category: analytics, art of coaching, coaching culture, communication, competition, decision training, deportment, education, evaluation, feedback, fun, game intelligence, leadership, learning, metrics / measures, parents, philosophy, research, self-awareness, sport psychology, sporting culture of madness, statistics, survey, teaching