We are just a day away from the start of the Fall season, we are now at a time that is equivalent to waiting inline for a roller-coaster ride!
Before we get stuck in to the playing of the games it is important that we cover some very important issues, making sure we are all pulling in the same direction, expectations are managed, and we make sure the experience is about the youth player and not the adult.
The focus must remain on the individual player, the progress and development primarily with the ball at their feet, the comfort to be in possession of the ball, and the willingness to try and at times ultimately fail. Youth soccer (not adult), is an individual sport within a team context.
As soon as we lose sight of the big picture and only focus on the scoreline, it is the child that misses out, and the adults take over. Here are a few important factors to keep in mind.
A Good Coach Does Not Joystick
Joy-sticking is killing the game, stifling youth development, and wrecking the interpretation of what a good coach is.
Joy-sticking is the constant shouting of instruction at the player. While shouting at the player so they make your decision from the sideline on the field, the worst of all joy-sticking is when giving instructions to the player in possession of the ball. The kids are not mini-PlayStation’s living out FIFA in real life. This is not coaching. A good coach will be looking away from the ball, providing guidance to players and not telling them what to do, but providing information to help them find the answer.
Here is a great article to help understand what joy-sticking is – https://www.stack.com/a/what-is-joysticking-the-coaching-tactic-killing-youth-sports?fbclid=IwAR2dgs-CuL6oRLZPBFyy1dpIsDWsup35ak-5IAS9AOXtse_NEFXNFbICyJ8
Shouting at players is not coaching
Shouting at players is sadly a cultural thing, which for so long has been the benchmark of what is a good coach. The louder and more often the coach shouts, the better that coach must be. This is so painfully wrong.
When we put this in to context, we have an adult shouting at a child while they are playing, and trying to learn, when we break it down to this it’s easier to see why it is so inappropriate. If another child was to shout at a child like this while playing we would consider it bullying, so why is it O.K. for a ‘coach’ to do this. There is a huge dropout rate at 14 years old of youths playing sports, from pressure and abusive adults. Changing the Game Project highlights why this form of coaching is so toxic – https://changingthegameproject.com/abusive-coaching-tolerated-sports/?fbclid=IwAR3YFbXwpaPSzUPD9XDYO74GfLq5D6tWh1kv09IhyNelI6QZyUevcJLrBUc
We ask that parents remain silent on the touchline. We understand you are passionate about your child, we completely get that, and there is nothing wrong with clapping. However, instructions being shouted on are definitely not tolerated, as this has a negative affect on the players development. A player is learning to observe and interpret their surroundings within the game, and not take instructions from sidelines. Its the process of looking, observing, interpretation, decision making, then action, that develops the fast player. A parent or coach shouting on to the field does not benefit the player, and in fact hinders the player.
The modern element of pedagogical communication is for the coach to be the facilitator of learning, and the not the ‘doer’. The coach must refrain from being the protagonist of an action, and is is even more important for the parent to understand, and therefore be supportive from the sidelines without the influence of decision making.
Psychological Development is an Important Pillar
More and more we are hearing about retired professional players suffering from mental illness. This is the result of their career as an elite professional, and the experience of the old ‘hair dryer’ treatment they would receive from coaches. As research and coach education has developed over the recent years our understanding of player psychology has taken on a greater role. When we put this into the perspective of youths playing sports, the more we reflect the adult game on to children the more damage we are doing. The following is a great little clip from TalkSport where there is an example of an older coach still not considering the impact a coach has on the mental health of a player.