A run of poor results at the start of the season can really knock a team’s confidence. Sport psychologist Dan Abrahams offers grassroots coaches four tips to help their teams get over a rocky opening to the campaign MORE
How to coach youth teams
As a coach I am always striving to improve by going on courses, going to watch other coaches and making sure my advice is current and relevant. I am constantly reflecting on my coaching and looking for ways to enhance it.
I work in three-week blocks of coaching and have a particular focus for the sessions in these weeks. For instance, it might be that we need to improve our defensive organisation around free-kicks or corners.
I write down the key points I need to coach and then I break it down into the objectives for each session and the key message for the players to take away. From that, I decide which games and exercises will best introduce and reinforce the message.As I coach the session, I analyse key aspects of my coaching. I focus on one or two elements of the session, such as my demonstrations and questioning, or my organisation and the work/rest ratio. I make mental notes about them and how effective they are in the session. I also keep a note of all the challenges I have set my players and how they have responded – success or fail.
Immediately after a session I ask myself how well it went. Were the elements I was focusing on as effective as I had wanted?
I have sometimes come away from training sessions thinking the whole thing had been a waste of time because I hadn’t got my coaching point across. On these occasions I look back at the session and use something called an achievement exercise – I simply write down five things I achieved at the session.
It’s a powerful reminder of what I achieve in different ways. Some things might appear minute in the grand scheme of things but are achievements nonetheless – even things like all the players turning up on time is a positive.
Finally, I think about the sessions I have run during the three week period: Did I cover everything I wanted to? Are there areas where the players need more reinforcement? Looking back over the three-week period is a fantastic way to see how I am progressing and in doing so making sure the development of my players is progressing.
I know how little time you have to spare for analysing your sessions. But a little time spent on preparation every three weeks will reap dividends when you look at the progress of your coaching and the development of your players over the season.
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