Specifically with grass roots coaches, the idea of sharing ideas and listening to similar level compatriots strikes fear and an intense self promotion attitude within many. This is not necessarily a bad thing however, as every single coach needs to be full of self importance and self belief. It is this confidence that we need to convey to our students after all.
The higher up the football pyramid you move, the more receptive and open other coaches are to sharing and listening, however there is still an incredible amount of alpha male pride attached to each individual – but we are all goalkeepers after all, and that goes with the territory!
“Hello there. I’m a level two coach – what level are you?” AAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH! How many times do you meet a coaching compatriot and this is their introduction? Or the ones who boast that they have taken the FA Level One? I’m afraid to say that these are the coaches that will receive the least of my time and attention, as all I care about is whether or not you can coach – not how many tickets you have to your name! If you’ve ever been standing with me when someone trots out that line as their introduction then I’m fairly certain that you would have heard a low growl emanating from my direction!
I genuinely think it is fantastic that so many people have the gumption to get up and actually achieve a qualification in their chosen field, but what really drags this praise down is the steadfast refusal to actually develop themselves as a coach – life is a constant learning curve and each day should be spent on developing yourself as an individual, and time specifically devoted to pursuing perfection within your chosen field (of course perfection can never be achieved however there is no harm in chasing!)
The title of this article is referring to being brave within your coaching. This is related to those coaches whom simply “run out of ideas” – quoted direct from the emails I receive asking for advice. Without wishing to come across as disrespectful to those whom are in a similar position with their sessions, my straight forward response is “why?”. Even if you are one of those coaches that repeats drills time and time again, then have you ever thought about approaching that drill slightly differently? Could you add a new challenge into your drill? Can you progress it? What would happen if? One thing that I have always prided myself on is that I never needed to repeat a drill (unless my goalkeepers specifically requested it), there are endless progressions that are applicable to what we plan so be brave and think “What if I just….?”
Always ask yourself open questions when appraising each drill, and better still – ask the goalkeepers themselves. You would be amazed at how empowered the goalkeeper then becomes when you get them involved with the session planning.
In an ideal world, I would suggest you throwing out your Coaching Manuals and instead use your intuition to get better results from your goalkeepers. Remember that it is easier to coach the mistake fluidly than it is to robotically coach the technique. Step away from how you have been taught to coach in order to pass your assessment and gain your certificate but instead take a fresh look at how you are currently doing things and ask yourself open questions. In order for you to fully develop your goalkeepers you must also develop yourself as an individual first, and goalkeeper coach a very close second.