Be clear and concise. We often hear this statement around the soccer pitch (or the workplace) regarding how best to deliver information. As a player you want to provide quick meaningful instruction to your teammates to enhance your chances of success. The examples are numerous “push up”, “take space”, “pinch in”, “force him left”, etc. As a coach you are encouraged (rightfully so) to keep your focus and commentary to two or three major points in a pregame or half-time discussion in an effort not to overwhelm your players. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the best players and coaches are clear and concise in the information they provide.
What’s your philosophy on player development? This question is at core of any coaching course and should be given plenty of consideration by all coaches since developing players is in essence the number one priority of a youth coach. The answers that follow can vary from coach to coach, but I’m always surprised by how long winded and rambling the answer to this question can be for both candidate and instructor. That is why it was so refreshing to hear Charlie Cooke explain The Coerver Player Development philosophy at The Coerver Youth Diploma Course I had the pleasure of attending this summer. Coach Cooke stated that Player Development should be “Serious Fun”. Serious Fun, Clear and Concise.
What does Serious Fun mean? Players develop best when they enjoy what they are doing. Therefore practices should be built around activities that are FUN! Having said that, we coaches must make a clear distinction between fun and silly. It is fun to get better and you get better through structured activities which provide a maximum amount of ball contacts and opportunities to make game like decisions in a practice setting. Coerver Coaching structures each training session with Ball Mastery, Soccer Speed, 1v1 and Small sided games as core components. This structure is Serious! There is no winging it when you get to the field. The activities selected may change from session to session, but they are never done so without serious consideration.
The Coerver Method believes in “stretching” players. They do this through intense competition in 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 activities where players are constantly transitioning from attack to defense and vice versa. The small numbers force players to remain engaged at all times, demand technique under pressure and foster a fast paced environment that is ideal for player development.
As coaches, can we take our players outside of their comfort zone and help them grow both on and off the field? It’s important that we have a plan in place that on one hand doesn’t overwhelm and discourage players, but on the other doesn’t limit development by underestimating what they can accomplish.
“If I were a player would I enjoy participating in this session?” I believe if all coaches would ask themselves this one question when planning out their practices, we’d go a long way in providing an environment that promotes player development in a real meaningful way. After all, player development is Serious Fun.