Youth Coaching – What’s Your Goal?

This week we have looked at communication on the field, when emotion can be high and decisions are made under pressure. We have also looked at the different styles of how people operate in their coaching style and how those styles can impact either short or long-term results and development. Results aren’t always in direct alignment with development, and sometimes work is being done to lay solid foundations and it takes a while for the results to be seen. Sir Alex Ferguson in his early days at Manchester United would be an example of this.

On the subject of Sir Alex, there are so many quotes that have so much wisdom, and as on of the most successful managers of all time we do well to listen to him. One quote that has so much relevance is this: “Too many managers talk too much. The two most important words for a player, or for any human being, there is nothing better than hearing “Well done.” And few reprimands are as powerful as silence.”

This works because people respond better to rewards than punishment. We all do better when we are praised than when we are punished. Encouraging a behaviour we want to see repeated is easier to do than punishing a behaviour we don’t. Further, if the person is doing something that is good, they can’t be doing something bad at the same time.

It is important to look at youth coaching as a learning process. As with any learning process we make fewer mistakes as we learn new skills, and we get better as we develop. The skills we teach a U10 will be different to those taught at U18 level. At U10 we allow players the opportunity to make mistakes and we praise them when they do something good. Through the encouragement they will repeat their behaviour and improve on it. Telling someone what they shouldn’t do leaves a void. Encouraging someone to repeat something helps them gain confidence and a feeling of competence.

Here are today’s three takeaways:

1 – What’s your objective? To win games or develop players? Development takes time, and winning isn’t necessarily a sign of growth.

2 – What do you want to see? Do you encourage and reward the things you want to see, or try to eliminate the things you don’t? Your players can’t do both at the same time.

3 – Keep your communication in line with your objectives. Yelling at someone while telling them to calm down sends a mixed signal. If you want calm, be calm.

Focus on the things you want to see. If you tell your penalty taker to “not miss” what are they thinking of? Keep your sight on the target you want to hit, and act accordingly. Focus on what you want to see, not what you want to stop.

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