Playing the right way. This is a phrase we often hear coaches discuss, usually about their team and the way they try and play the game. But what does this mean? With such diverse methodology taken from different clubs and associations, it can be seen as unhealthy to think that there is only one ‘right’ way to play the game.
It’s our responsibility to develop all players. Some of our elite players will want to go to college, and we can’t determine how their college coaches want to play the game. So we need to expose players to a varied way of playing that fits into our playing principles.
Empowering players to make decisions is our organization’s philosophy – developing forward thinkers who are responsible for making their own decisions on and off the field while understanding the consequences of their actions. Within our principles, we do not mention ‘playing out from the back.’ Although we recommend and encourage player to do this, it may on occasions be the wrong decision (based on the position of the opposition players).
When allowing players to make decisions, expect mistakes and expect sometimes to lose games because of these mistakes. This may be frustrating for coaches and parents in the short term, but the benefit in the medium to long term far outweighs losing the odd game.
When players make mistakes, it’s the skill of the coach to make sure they teach the consequences of the decision. If a Goalkeeper does try and play out from the back, and the opposition win the ball and have a chance on goal, it’s fundamental the coach talks through this decision with the player, helping them make better decisions in the future.
Following on from Steve Jones (Director of Steel Sports Coaching System) blog on ‘Parental Behavior’ it’s imperative that parents understand this process and do not worry when children make mistakes. We share this message through continuous parent engagement. We always have the child’s development at the forefront of our minds, which fits into our kids first approach.
By Ian Hughes
Steel Soccer, National Director of Curriculum & Development