There are many creative ways of improving players' decision-making, confidence, concentration, commitment and communication, writes HANNAH DUNCAN MORE
Earlier this year when the weather was bad and training was cancelled I was playing Connect 4 with my wife. After a close contest over a number of games we were drawing, so the result rested on our final game. But as it was coming to an end I realised I was going to lose however I played, so I stood up and said, “You win” and walked off.
“Just a minute,” called my wife, “you’ve taken away the glory of winning. You’d certainly have something to say if we were on a football pitch.”
There is a glory in winning that should be embraced by both the winner and the loser. When we lose we should congratulate our opponents and think about our own glories and what we did during the game, because although winning is important it’s not always a true measure of how your players have performed as a team.
I have successful teams but I don’t start out with the word ‘win’ buzzing through my brain – I think of developing the individual and creating a team. Rather than looking at the result, it is better to ask key questions about your team: Did they create chances? Did they have a good shape defensively? Did the players make good decisions when in possession? Did they play a mixed passing game? Did they control the tempo of the game?
If you want to get a real measure of their performance, it’s always good to write down your thoughts straight after the final whistle. But as it’s a natural reaction to be deflated after a defeat, you will not always see the positives immediately, so an hour later you should again write down what happened and compare your notes to what you wrote earlier. That way, you might find it easier to look for the positives and that will then allow you to work on the negatives more effectively.
My team played a game recently where they started off as easily the best team. We outpassed the opposition and created twice as many chances but we lost the game 3-2. Afterwards I wrote down my answers to the key questions and what actions I needed to take. Yes, we did create chances (praise the team); no, we often left dangerous spaces when we didn’t get back quickly enough after attacks broke down (work on defensive positions and recovery movement); yes, we made good decisions and passing was good (praise the team); but we failed to control the tempo and allowed the opposition back into contention (work on closing the game out).
Try this process and you can then see what you need to talk about, what to praise and what to work on at your next coaching session.