Be Honest, Are You Organising Or Coaching?

We’ve all been there.  Laid out a few cones.  Told our athletes how the drill works.  And they’re doing it.  They’re focused, they’re enjoying the drill, they hit some good shots and do things successfully.  Parents are looking on at little Johnny because he’s playing so well. Awesome – we’re coaching!  Job done!

Well unfortunately not.  Far from it.

In sports there are literally thousands of coaches.  There are some amazing coaches, there are some very average coaches and there are some awful coaches.  But unfortunately in coaching, it is quite easy to make it look like you’re doing a good job.

It is only when you look a bit deeper into coaching that you realise that many people aren’t actually coaching, they’re organising.

I’m writing this blog because last night I did some individual coaching and in the other half of the field, was another coach also doing some individual coaching.  I love watching coaching so I stayed behind to watch for a bit.

The drills this coach were doing were legit.  He was great at encouraging his athlete and the athlete was working well and enjoying himself.  Dad was looking on, pleased as punch, thinking, “Yes, I’m getting value for money”.  Little did the dad know that his son wasn’t being coached.  His son was being organised and encouraged.

Lots of coaches put out cones, tell the athletes how to do the drill and leave it at that.  Don’t be that coach.  Tell the athletes the learning objective of each drill and how they can make their performance better.  AFFECT THE INDIVIDUAL.

Now obviously organising and encouraging are part of a coaches job, but the most important aspect of coaching is to make every single drill an opportunity where the athlete is learning and developing.  But unfortunately lots of coaches forget about this part – the hardest part.

With every single drill or activity, you should be asking the question, “What are my athletes learning?”, “How am I positively affecting their performance?”, “What is the learning objective of this drill?”

If you’re not asking and answering these questions with every single drill that you do, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re organising, not coaching.

And this is why so many people think they can coach and get away with being coaches.  Organising and encouraging is easy.  Coaching takes a lot more effort, time and knowledge.

Coaching is feedback that corrects the player’s performance and develops the athlete.  Coaching is offering tactics and strategy during a half time team talk.  Coaching is pulling an athlete aside, telling them what mistake they made so they can change their technique or behaviour.  Coaching should always be positive and constructive.  Never damning.

Sean Dyche, Soccer Manager for Burnley in the English Premiership.

I love encouraging and motivating athletes and there is absolutely a time and place for it.  But if you haven’t before, try one session of only giving positive feedback on what the player is doing right, or constructive feedback on what they can improve on.  Don’t encourage or motivate.  Only give feedback.  This was let you know whether you usually organise or coach.

Don’t raise your voice once.  Everything is a dialogue.  You have to make them part of the learning process to make it a two-way street.  Learning is not coaches just yelling stuff at their athletes.

How am I affecting the individual?

So the next time you go out there to coach, have a learning objective for every single drill that you do. But most importantly, don’t keep the objective to yourself.  Tell the athlete what they are trying to improve and how they are trying to improve.

It sounds so obvious, but it’s frightening how many people just say how to do the drill, but never say what the athletes are trying to improve on.  Don’t just to keep the athletes busy.  Try to develop your athletes for every single minute of every single session.

Be a coach, not an organiser.

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Played with Coventry City F.C. in the English Premier League and England Under 18 Schoolboy Football team. 13 years in the Sports and Education industries as an Athletic Director, Head of Physical Education, Teacher and Coach. Extensive international experience in Europe (UK), Africa (Tanzania), Asia (Singapore) and now permanently based in USA (Denver, Colorado). Nick is co-founder of StriveFar, an online marketplace that connects athletes with private coaches. StriveFar’s goal is to eliminate the headaches and help coaches grow their private coaching business by finding athletes, scheduling the sessions and collecting the money so coaches can focus on what they love to do, developing the athletes. Nick’s passion has always been to develop and inspire young people through the medium of sport. He loves to share and promote his commitment to all things sport. Nick always tries to motivate young people to be their best and tries to exemplify a positive, healthy, driven and energetic lifestyle. He has developed Athletic and Educational programs from scratch for private international schools, combining clear objectives with a strong use of strategy, planning, organizational and communication skills.

1 Comment

  1. So true…and as everything is so structured and organised, it does not allow the kids to be creative and think outside of the box to solve their challenges on the field/court. Let the kids play, encourage the good and coach options when needed.

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