A recent email from a local club renewed an ongoing discussion in our community about over-coaching. The email discussed the upcoming, “Silent” Coaching Weekend. Here’ the email that the Director of Coaching sent to coaches and parents in the club:
“Silent” Coaching Weekend this spring is May 11 and 12. This is our second weekend after a successful effort in the Fall.
The goals we had for the Fall were to empower the players to make decisions for themselves without being micro-managed by the coaches (and parents) for every decision throughout the game. We want to continue that theme and provide another weekend to give the game to players.
Our expectations for coaches are that they will try to refrain from coaching constantly throughout the game. Avoid telling every kid what to do at every moment and watch the game and take notes. Coach the kids on the sideline (the kids on the bench and when you sub) and observe the things you can fix and then at halftime try to make the adjustments.
Having said that I wanted to take just a minute to address some of the concerns that coaches have expressed about the upcoming games.
Some of you are wondering if your players will be able play the game without constant instruction. While there will be bumps in the road, your players will do better than you think. If you get a chance in the next two weeks in practice go over your throw-ins, corner kicks, kick-offs, goal kicks, etc. and ask them to organize them without your help. Perhaps choose a couple of kids who are potential leaders and encourage them to step up and help organize during those moments.
Some of you are worried that your team (or parents) will be upset if you lose games because either you or they weren’t able to yell to your players during the game. We are encouraging all adults to focus less on win/loss records and more on development. Did Suzie attempt to use foot skill versus pounding the ball away when under pressure? Did Tommy receive the ball with his head up and have a good first touch to bring the ball under control before proceeding? Each of these accomplishments is a success, whether they directly lead to a goal or not.
Remember soccer is the players’ game and this weekend will give all players an opportunity to be successful and make mistakes without the coach providing constant directions during the course of play. Remember you can coach the kids on the sideline before they go into the game, when they come off, and at half-time. This is the best time as you are more likely to have their attention when they are on the sideline than you are when they are 10 yards away trying to pass the ball to their teammate.
The key to this being a positive experience is presenting it as such to the kids and the parents. Use the weekend to evaluate what your kids have learned without attempting to orchestrate every movement. This is an opportunity to take notes on the game that you can use to guide your future practices.
I am looking forward to the games and I think your players will enjoy themselves and do a great job.
It’s important to understand that this is addressed to the recreational arm of the club. The coaches involved are mostly well intentioned parents that don’t have a background in soccer coaching. In this case I think that a, “Silent Weekend”, could be fun for the players and educational for the coaches and parents. Experienced coaches know that there are times that you should coach and times that you should let the players make their own decisions. The art of coaching is finding the right balance. The very best coaches ask questions to get the players to think rather than tell them what to do which does their thinking for them.
This type of program was tried with a local premier league a few years ago. There was a lot of resistance from coaches because most of them were experience, licensed coaches that felt they knew what over-coaching was and how to avoid it. They didn’t need a weekend experiment to teach them how to coach.
Has the league in your area held a “Silent Weekend”? What do you think the pros and cons are? Is over-coaching real problem in our game?
Have a Great Day!