In looking at youth coaching, it is important to have an end goal in mind. Do we want our kids to be given specific management with a coach telling each player where to be at all points of the game, an idea of what is expected so they can work out their own way forward, or be given an end goal and the player works out for themselves how to make it happen? What is the end result we are looking for?
Here are the three types of coach you will see.
1 – The manager is the person on the sideline telling players where to be, what to do and when to do it. These are the ones most likely to be yelling “GET IT OUT!” when the ball comes to their defensive area. This is the style who may get better results in the young age groups, simply because they are calling all the shots. Players don’t learn anything, but they feel good about winning a lot, at least until they get older and have to know what to do for themselves. Lots of instruction, little development.
2 – The director is kind of hybrid between the coach and manager. They will be likely to have a framework for a style of play, and give instruction on how to achieve the goals. However, come game time there will be general instruction rather than specific management of every player and movement. A director balances the results with the development and could be best used in a team of high performers who already understand the basics of the game and make good decisions.
3 – The coach is all about development. Although results are important, the coach focuses on how to achieve the results as a long-term objective. The coach will look at player improvement and help with decision-making. It is under the coach that young players will grow the most, but they will also make the most mistakes, but that’s OK. Mistakes are opportunities to learn, and learning is the main focus here. Results will come, they won’t be immediate like you will see with the manager, but they will come and they will be consistent when they do.
Here are today’s three takeaways:
1 – Results, in the common term, aren’t that hard in youth soccer. Put your best players in the best positions and tell them what to do. It’s only difficult when you come up against a team with better players (at youth level “better” typically means faster and stronger, with Relative Age Effect having a part to play).
2 – When working with young children, understand they are curious and want to understand. Telling them what to do will not create an environment where they have fun or enjoy what they do. Winning is temporary, learning competency and confidence lasts a lifetime.
3 – Coaching and directing help players improve and these approaches help players satisfy their intrinsic motivation of feeling achieved. Even as adults we feel better about being praised for doing something we initiated than completing a task someone tells us to do.
What are your goals? Is your focus simply to win games? Are you looking for immediate success or long-term success? What will players say in the years to come? We won some trophies? Is that the goal, or would you rather they remember you for the lessons you taught them about winning, losing, hard work, dedication, team work, and the groundwork that goes into winning?