Coaching Styles at Elite And Grassroots Football
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The changing landscape in global soccer management has necessitated the establishment and implementation of a number of strategies geared at improving the levels of football clubs’ performance. The role of management as a key feature in the realization of club objectives forms the major reasons behind greatest achievements in sports (Green 1992). The scrutiny of some literature on soccer management indicates that several of professional clubs engage various perspectives to attain higher success levels.The success of any club is pegged to the level of motivation of the players (Cherunilam 2004). It is prudent to note that, motivation and good management play a critical role in creating an environment where a player’s optimal performance can be realised. Every individual has his own set of talents and personal incentives to work hard. Some players are motivated by recognition while others are motivated by monetary rewards. Whichever the motivation approach, the critical factor is to have a greater insight of the incentive as a manager. Indeed, players coaching and motivational programs promote hard work and excellence. A clear understanding of the attitudes and perceptions of players promote better management of professional clubs as well as grass root clubs (Franchise 2011). The moral benefits that are generated when players are motivated are great. When players are motivated, they not only become efficient but also creative and more enterprising. This in turn enhances the performance of the clubs.
Football is a very unpredictable sport due to the numerous coaching styles and game formations that opponents in a football match employ. As such, the players must in their own wisdom, make the right decision without the inception of a coach watching from the bench. The coach does not always provide immediate solutions. Nonetheless, there are a big number of coaches who try to control whatever players do on the pitch from the side line. By doing that, coaches make it hard for players to decide on their own on the problems they face on the pitch. The final effect will be passiveness of the players as they become dependent on the coach to give directions from the side line. A good coaching style is a style that gives the players autonomy to make right decisions when needed. Hence, there is a need to exhaust the various coaching styles used by coaches or managers (World Football Academy n.d).
According to McCloskey (1999) the purpose of employing a coach or manager to run the affairs of a football team is to help players to develop and enjoy themselves. In this manner the players will be able to improve their individual performances and enhance the overall team performance. Coaches have a choice to make with regard to which style to use to benefit their players in any given coaching session. It is significant to know the age of players a coach is dealing with in order to know the most appropriate style to adopt. Moreover, a given style to adopt depends on the coach’s own personality, the number of players in a particular coaching session, and health and safety in a given type of session among other considerations. Therefore, a coaching style will depend on a coach’s own skill in the coaching profession. This research paper explores only two coaching styles: command style and guide and discovery styles.
The command style of coaching is applicable in a scenario where a coach wants to take control of whatever happens in a training session. In this regard, the system requires the coach to undertake safety and disciplinary measures that will ensure maximum utilisation of time for a big group of players in a training session. The coaches applying this style set their own standards of performance and they make sure that the players train towards reaching the established standards. The command style applies mainly in training young players who need directions on how to behave during the training session. Like the guide and discovery method, this style requires that players understand the safety and health precautions that they ought to observe.
The style keeps pace, tempo, and general organisation of a given training session as the coach has the sole responsibility of determining the next move. Command style calls for active engagement of the coach in order to constantly give directions and make sure that the players follow the instructions as given. When dealing with a team of young players, it is critical to let them understand why the coach tells them to undertake these activities during training to give them a clear picture. Once the players understand the reasons, then they can apply the skills themselves.
Guide and Discovery Coaching Style
This is a coaching method that enables to guide players into discovering their own answers to a particular learning objective that a coach had in mind. The style requires the coach to ask questions duringa training session that are both gradual, and progressive. The guide and discovery style of coaching encourages individual involvement, responsibility, and ownership to understand the reasons why the coach asked them to undertake a given task. The guide and discovery style requires knowledge of the players for them to be able to discover the answers for themselves. This style helps in reinforcing players’ knowledge and ability.
Guide and discover style makes players to be involved in their own learning; hence, they become more effective and as such develop progressively. Coaches who use this style should use identifying words that inspire positive thinking of players during training sessions as use of harsh words like ‘why did you’ will prompt negative thinking among players.
Loughead & Hardy (2005) study examines the relationship between coaching responsibility and peer leaders behaviour in sports. The cross-sectional surveys showed that coaches and peer leaders exhibit different behaviours in leadership. Whereas coaches exhibit autocratic leadership during training, peer leaders appear more democratic, social, and they seem to draw positive feedbacks. This is an indication that coaches and peer leaders like captains have different leadership behaviour during training (Loughead & Hardy 2005). This research is vital in changing the coaching behaviour as it points out that democratic behaviour in leadership would yield better results for a football team. The democratic leadership style goes hand in hand with the guide and discovers style of coaching.
As Chelladurai & Saleh (1980) indicate, positive feedback given by a coach is significant in maintaining high level of motivation among players. Motivation is a critical determinant in predicting the effectiveness of a coach (McCloskey 1999). According to the path-goal theory (House 1971), an effective leadership is that which enables the coach to “rewards necessary for effective and satisfying performance that would otherwise be lacking in the environment,” (House & Dessler 1974, p.31). Leadership scale factor (LSS) inculcates the ideals of direct task factor in giving directions during training, a hybrid of both democratic and autocratic leadership behaviours, and two motivational factors of positive feedback and social support. The LSS, thus, provides a coach with the important structures in line with the path-goal theory, that help in the identification of factors to consider during training.
Theory of Coaching
An effective coach is the who believes in player development as a long term objective in the improvement. Development of athletes in a game of football calls for effective planning and coordination. In fact, planning is the most significant process in coaching practice, and coaching sessions need to be planned to help performers achieve their goals. The ideal of player development demands that the players ought to be part of the important decisions during training sessions and games. An effective coach should set the following objectives:
- The training sessions and games are age appropriate to ensure all players enjoy participation
- Players should be able to play in various positions
- Balls are available to every player for individual practices
- During training sessions, players should touch the balls as many times as possible
- Training rules and regulations are age appropriate which calls for the coach to be able to modify the rules and the size of pitch according to age groups
- The coach is able to adapt the training equipment to players according to their age groups
- Training sessions allow players to exercise their own decision making skills instead of drilling
- Emphasis should not be on losing and winning because statistics are insignificant during training sessions
- Coaches should have mechanisms to ensure that players unlock their potential by creating an enabling environment.
The objectives above will encourage the idea of player development and it is the fundamental engagement with the coach shares directly with the players.
Role of the Coach
According to McCloskey (1999), coaches have many roles in ensuring that a team develops. Grassroots coaches should not imitate the coaching ideals of coaches who manage elite football clubs because of age differences. The Premier League coaches manage older players and as such, going by the objectives above, training equipment, and training rules and regulations ought to be modified before applying them at the grassroots. Whereas a grassroots coach needs to consider training sessions based on age groups, a coach of an elite team deals with specific age groups.
For instance, Arsene Wenger manages the Arsenal Premier League side while another coach manages the Arsenal Reserve Team. Moreover, Pep Gurdiola managed the Barcelona Reserve Team before managing the La Liga side during his time as the Catalan Club. According to Draper (2011), the success of Pep Gurdiola in Barcelona, winning two Champions League titles only at the age of40 explains the significance of having the experience of managing different groups of players. Whereas Arsene Wenger is yet to win a Champions League title with his current club, Sir Alex Ferguson had to wait until when he was 56 years old to conquer Europe (Draper 2011).
The Coach as a Facilitator
- Ensures that they offer social support and give positive feedback to the players according to the ideals of LSS
- The coaches have the motivation to succeed in whatever they are doing
- Training and gaming experiences should be enjoyable and fun as this is the spirit of the football game; but, that disciplinary measures are vital when handling a young team.
- Ensures that individual players reach their potential, become successful; something that comes with fun
The Coach as a Role Model
Coach as a role model should be respectful to the players, the match officials, opposing teams, the fans, other coaches, and the parents. Respect for everybody who a coach interacts with will make the team members to develop respect to their coach as the he is their role model (Bloom, Durant-Bush, Schinke & Salmela 1998). The other responsibility of the coach is to manage all the activities during games in consultation with the assistant coach.
Develop an Understanding with the Team Members
There are several occasions when there is divisiveness in the dressing room because of poor relations between the coach and the players. At elite level, this may result into a run of poor results until the problem if resolved. Due to this reason, a coach should have a good understanding with all individual players at personal levels Jowett & Cockerill (2002).
At the grassroots level, the challenge grows as dealing with young people requires good understanding of child psychology. The young people develop and mature at different ages. Moreover, at grassroots level it is vital to recognise that the young people participate in a sport not as a career but for fun. Therefore fun is the first issue that the coach should allow them to have. Some young players are in sport because their close friends play, so they don’t have an option but to engage. Others play football because it is a family career while others because they really want to play football. It is important for the coach to be able to understand the different reasons why those in the training camp are there as coaching requires knowledge, wants, needs, and respect of beliefs that athletes hold (Poczwardowski, Barott & Henschen 2002).
Key Components in Coaching Football
There are four main components of football coaching as outlined below:
(a) Technique (ball control, dribbling skills, passes, head balls, receiving and shooting)
The techniques mentioned above are the most important skills that any football player should possess. A player who is able to perform the techniques above will love the ball. Moreover, during matches, it sometimes boils down to individual brilliance to win. All the techniques involve ball work and for this reason, a coach must always ensure that the players use the ball to learn through self-discovery (Wylleman, Harwood, Elbe & Reints 2009).
(b) Psychology: coaches need to instil positive thinking in all aspects of the game
(c) Tactics: tactics refer to individual decisions that players make during the game. When a coaching philosophy insists on encouraging individual decision making during training, the coach helps the players to develop tactics.
(d) Fitness and Nutrition
Football game is a physically engaging game and as such, requires proper coordination of physical tolerance and proper nutrition. Fitness programmes differ immensely between grassroots football and elite football (Pringle, Zwolinsky, McKenna & Daly-Smith 2013). Whereas managers who coach professional players have elaborate training sessions and dietary considerations Economos, Bortz & Nelson (1993) grassroots coaches have to manage different players from different households. Hence, building physical fitness may match the standards needed in the game of football. Different families put their children on different diets while at the same time it would be very expensive to hire nutritionist for street clubs.
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