Coaching Secrets RevealedInsider knowledge that “they” don’t want you to know about
by Ken Sweda | Thursday, September 27, 2012
It is with great trepidation that I address you today, for I know that what I’m about to describe below may very well bring withering scrutiny and perhaps even outright sabotage.
(Don’t fret, however: Kevin Trudeau has assured me I can hide in his Safe Room).
Why am I concerned? Well, to put it bluntly, I have information that, put in the right hands, could change the face of youth soccer coaching across North America.
So what do I happen to know that will blow the lid off the entire youth soccer coaching community and expose the charlatans? What is this big secret?
The Big Secret is that there are no real secrets, not in terms of coaching information, anyway.
You read that correctly – there are no secrets about how to coach or what to coach.
There are different playing styles, and training methods, and preferences, and systems, sure, but the details are all accessible to the average parent, the beginning volunteer coach, or the seasoned gaffer, in whatever level of detail they might wish to see.
But sadly this is where the deceit begins.
See, to protect their status within the system, a majority of youth club coaches and directors of coaching, contrary to what they may tell you, want you to believe only “they” have the necessary knowledge to train your child. They make it all about the “information” and the “result.”
They want parents to believe that it’s all about the information itself, not the connection between the coach and the player, or the player and the game. That means the parent shouldn’t question what they do, and they sure as hell shouldn’t send their kid down the street to “that other club” because “they don’t have the credentials or record we do.”
And still, even while bragging about their knowledgeable staffs, most of the coaching and training information these clubs have isn’t even utilized in their programs. Too often, only the most easily presented concepts are used, and often for the sole purpose of putting a winning team together as quickly as possible. They would never want their parents to know that there are better ways, ways that could produce much more fulfilled players AND still impress on the score sheet.
All of which is utterly capricious nonsense, and doesn’t do anything to help move the sport ahead here.
“They” don’t want you to know that all the fundamental information needed to be an informed parent or a youth coach is readily available in the form of books, videos, even the Internet. Clubs will flaunt their “A-Licensed coaches” and bursting trophy cases, but will never tell you how many skilled and intelligent players they have produced.
Indeed, most clubs want so desperately to keep these secrets that they seemingly prefer parents remain in the dark about the sport lest their deficiencies be found out. And let’s not forget the lengths they will go to keep rival coaches from learning their “methods” (such as they are). They’ll even go as far as to bash other clubs because “they’ve got nice players, but they don’t win.”
There is a reason so many players give up on the game at 13 or 14, and the reason is they never develop that deeper connection to the game – they haven’t developed that special relationship with the ball, or with the real game. They’ve never been given the chance to make it their own.
In short, they’ve been taught a superficial version of the game by superficial instructors with superficial goals.
What “sells” any coach, of course, is the coach themselves – their philosophy, their passion, their personality and their commitment. The fundamentals are always the fundamentals, the drills are always the drills, no matter what you end up doing with them. It’s all out there for everyone to see and use.
Individual coaches give life and meaning to that information. They are the bridge to the players. And those players, especially the youngest, will live or die in this game by those relationships, first with the coach, and eventually with the game itself.
When I set out to become a trainer and coach, my decision was based entirely on the circumstances I just described. I saw a system filled with deceit, ego, money and misguided priorities that used children simply as cogs in a machine. I saw such massive gaps in practical training, and little focus in allowing the children to learn and enjoy what is fundamentally a players’ game, not a coaches’ game. Everything I’ve seen has colored my approach to training and coaching, and continues to do so.
Every day I make it my purpose to seek out more meaningful information, and try to discover more meaningful ways of presenting it.
Amazingly, one of the best tools I have found to advance my coaching knowledge, while at the same time confirming my philosophy, is Twitter. Over the course of the past year or so, I have found myself engaged with countless progressive, engaged and thoughtful coaches, all of whom are more than happy to share coaching sessions, observations and ideas in a player-centered, developmentally-based manner.
Perhaps the single best source I discovered on Twitter is @CoachingFamily, a clearinghouse of sorts that gathers and shares information as well as providing its own content. If you are new to the coaching community and looking for an online source to further your “practical education,” I can think of no better place to start. Once you begin following and interacting, a world of knowledge will quite literally be at your disposal (oops, there I go again, spilling the beans).
So how can we best make use of this “insider knowledge?”
First, a request to the parents: Learn about the game, and use the knowledge to demand more from your child’s coaches. Quit valuing winning, especially as the only measure of how “good” your child is.
If you don’t do these things, then sadly you will continue to get fleeced. You may not care about the game, but I’m sure you care about money, and I know you do care about your kids who care about the game (in the first few years, anyway). Those early years are critical for establishing that relationship with the game, and surely you’d rather your $2,000 buy something truly meaningful, no?
Second, to the hesitant or prospective coaches: Go for it. Get involved.
If you are involved, get more involved. The information is all out there. The game needs your passion and ability to facilitate those necessary bonds. Don’t let a mercenary club dominate the game in your area. If you have to start one yourself, do it. We have plans to do that very thing with our U-9 girls advanced recreational team. I feel I owe it to the girls, and to the sport that has provided so much excitement and interest to me.