To give you an idea of my approach to coaching soccer, here is an excerpt from my soccer coaching philosophy which I give to all my players at the start of the season. Communicating my intent clearly with players helps us to build a trusting and productive relationship.
Alan Lary’s Coaching Philosophy March 2013
1. Coach’s Objective
- One of my main objectives as your head coach is to improve your love and passion for the game of soccer. As your love for the game improves you will find that soccer becomes more enjoyable and more satisfying. You will also connect with others who love the game. These people will generally be your teammates. In my view, this is the requirement for great personal and team play.
- You can improve your love and passion for the game by improving your understanding of how to play the game, by improving your skill level and by connecting with your teammates. Sharing your experience with people you care about brings a much greater joy.
- The other main objective as your head coach is to ensure that you have a safe place to play and grow as a player and as a person. A safe place means that the player feels 100% trusting in the, physical environment, the emotional environment and the intellectual environment. I will not allow anyone to compromise the safety of any player or coach. It is my view that a safe environment is mandatory for growth to take place.
2. Coach’s Approach
- To reach the objectives I approach coaching as a Player Coach (as opposed to a Team Coach). I strongly believe that our youth need Player Coaches. Player coaches define themselves by considering each and every player as an individual who has at any point in time, varying levels of skill, talent, knowledge, commitment etc. Each player is therefore treated separately. It is the improvement of the individual and not the team that counts the most. The player’s ability is not what matters. What matters is the player’s personal improvement for a defined period (i.e. the year, month etc.)
- Team coaches are results driven. Winning is the main focus. Players need meet the standards set by the coach. There is pressure to perform at given or pre-determined levels (Team coaches tend to coach players for what the coach wants them to be as opposed to what they are). This is not my approach.
- Player coaches make practice sessions just as important as or in many cases, more important than games. Most of the personal development occurs at practice. Practices need to be enjoyable yet worthy of improving the player’s knowledge and skill. Player coaches ensure that all players get adequate playing time in practices and games.
- As players improve under the player coach’s method, the players enjoy the game, they enjoy their teammates, and the TEAM’S CHANCES OF WINNING IMPROVES which all leads to an improved love and passion for the game.
3. The Player
- I categorize each player’s overall ability into four equal parts. I apply this categorization in order to keep the principals simple. In order for a player to improve, each and every part needs to be worked. The parts are as follows:
- The Body – the body represents the physical player. This will include his ability to run, jump, tackle, shoot, pass, control the ball, dribble, his endurance, etc. The body reflects what most spectators and teammates see during the game. Improvement comes from increasing the fitness level and skill ability. Yet, for me, this only represents one fourth of the player.
- The Heart – the heart represents the emotional player. This will include the level of commitment and desire, the amount of courage, the need and willingness to be coached, keeping agreements, and his general attitude and sportsmanship. Spectators and teammates sense this part of the player. Improvement comes from an improved enjoyment of the game.
- The Head – the head represents the knowledge of the technical elements of performing the skills, the understanding of player and team tactics and strategies, the ability to “see the field”, the ability to lead others on the field, the ability to see weaknesses in the opponents and just overall ability to think about the game. Improvement comes from the willingness to learn and to think about the game and his play. If a player makes a mistake he should ask himself how he could have reduced the chances of making that happen. Or if he makes a great play he should ask himself why that occurred. Spectators and teammates see this element of the player more than the player himself.
- The Soul – the soul represents the players connection to himself as a unique and special person who has unlimited potential. The soul also represents the connection the player makes with his teammates; his concern for others, his need to support and assist, his ability not to judge others, his patience, and his understanding that all his teammates have the same potential in life and in sport. Teammates learn to trust players who have this connection. Spectators sense this element in a player.
- I believe that practice is crucial to developing the player. 100 percent effort at practice may only lead to an 80 percent effort in a game. Your opponents are making it difficult for you to play at 100 percent in a game. Imagine if you only give 80 percent at practice? Practice should be enjoyable, understandable, imaginative and demanding for each player according to their level. This places a high demand on the coaches. Practices are very important and the coaches must be prepared.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/1384952210/