Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Positive Influence in Football

When I did my UEFA B licence, part of the portfolio work was on "Positive Working Relationships in Football".  This covers areas such as coaching philosophy, psychological factors associated with player performance and consideration of how players learn.

I have revisited my notes and found some interesting things that were not all included in my final portfolio and link nicely with "The Archery Story".  This story comes from an organisation called FISH! who advocate a certain philosophy in work and day to day life.

The Archery Story

A nine-year-old boy, shopping with his father, approached the counter of the archery department at a large sporting goods retailer. He proclaimed to the salesman standing behind the counter, “I want to shoot bows and arrows.”
The salesman, who had been talking with a co-worker, glanced over his shoulder at the boy and said in an annoyed tone, “Come back when you’re a little older and I’ll show you some bows.” He turned back to his colleague and resumed their conversation.
Later that same day the boy and his father were at another sporting goods store. Undaunted by his earlier exchange, the boy approached a salesman standing near the archery equipment and again said, “I want to shoot bows and arrows.”
The salesman got down on one knee. His eyes lit up as he said to the boy, “I was about your age when I got my first bow!” He told the boy the story of his first bull’s eye while shooting targets with his Dad in their back yard. He let the boy feel the weight of an adult-sized bow in his hands and invited him to take some shots with a youth bow on their indoor target range. The boy’s father purchased the youth bow and some targets.
The first salesman saw the boy as a kid interrupting his work. The second salesman saw him as a boy with a dream to shoot “bows and arrows.” 

The simple moral of this story is how easy it could be to have a negative influence on a child's wish to be involved in any sport and I am sure many can identify this to football.  The constant shouting from the sidelines, telling players what not to do rather than what they have done well, the over-bearing parent or coach.  There are many negative actions or comments that are made that young footballers may hear and may be undaunted by as shown above.  But, what if these are constant?  I'm sure many players disappear from the game because of this kind of negative barrage.  All it takes is the parent or coach to remind their players why they loved to play football when they were 9 or 10, scoring goals and experiencing this with friends, trying new skills, playing in or out of goal and just enjoying the game, maybe it was just the fact they could join up with a group of friends and get covered in mud at the local park.

As part of the process of developing a coaching philosophy my notes show the following points.  I am sure many will agree that these are not 'rocket science' but they should be something that we as coaches, managers, parents and supporters of youth footballers maybe take a look at once in a while and ask ourselves is this something we do consistently?
  • Supportive
  • Encouragement
  • Approachable
  • Friendly
  • Knowledgeable
  • Fun 
  • Positive
  • Enabling
  • Consistent
  • Motivational
Something I think is useful to remember when coaching is to always think the opposite whenever I hear a negative comment or indeed if I have my own negative thought:

Rather than "Pass it" - "Can we keep the ball?"
Rather than "If in doubt, Away and Row Z" - "Can we keep the ball?"
Rather than "No, not there" - "Can you go past him?"
Rather than "Get back, recover" - "Can we slow them down?"
Rather than "Don't do that" - "Can we try this?"
Rather than "Get stuck in" - "Can I nick the ball?"

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