Why is using a consistent language and approach as a coaching group at your club, so important for fast tracking development?
Coaches have a huge responsibility in mentoring and upskilling players at any club. This is why a collective approach is required. As a football program, at the conclusion of each season, all coaches should debrief and analyse collectively the effectiveness of the current program. A good starting point is answering these three questions:
- Where are we trying to go?
- Where are we now?
- How can we close the gap?
Once you have had discussions around these questions, you are now in a stronger position to put things in place and establish a strategic plan for your club to move forward. In saying this, as a club, you need to be patient and stay true to this vision. Obviously, it is acceptable to refine if things are not working, but the overall goal of where you are trying to get to remain firmly in place.
The key question for any coach is the last one: How can we close the gap? Football is a very opinionated game where everyone has their own ideas on how the game should be taught and played. If there is a disjointed approach within each developmental stage within your club, then you will not achieve the positive outcomes, both individually and as a team you are seeking.
The keys to success for any football program, which will help close the gap from what you would like to have and where you currently are at, are connected to these 4 pillars:
- Clear Vision – know where you are going in terms of the content you want to teach your players within your club. Implement a scope and sequence/scaffolded approach, so that your players are building on knowledge taught, as they move through your club. This approach is far more purposeful than just deciding on the spot. What ends up happening is players get taught the same things via the same drills year to year. You must be clear on your vision!
- Pitching the content correctly. In order to do this effectively, you need to be inclusive of everyone. You need to know your players in terms of how they learn best. This will enable you to choose appropriate drills that cater for this and set up your training programs accordingly.
- Make it fun, purposeful and challenging: Your football program should incorporate all of these. If it is not fun, player retention falls away because players become disengaged. If coaches have not planned their training sessions then what message is this sending to your playing group? Players know if coaches are not prepared and if this occurs, then the times that you are together lacks meaning and becomes a waste of time. If players are not challenged, then they will not improve at the rate you would expect them to. That is why incorporating game sense activities/drills in everything you do, ticks all of these boxes. Players love playing games and if you can teach them to make decisions and problem solve with opposition, then you are actually making more of an impact into their overall development. In saying this, all coaches at all levels need to be doing this! This comes back to that consistent approach by all coaches.
- Unified and consistent language: As coaches, you all need to be using the same language when teaching players about Australian Football. The language that we are referring to are the 14 key performance areas that comprises Australian Football. Once you are aware of these, you can begin playing your part in educating young players at junior levels, reinforcing these in training. The 14 key performance areas we are referring to are:
Kicking Marking Handpassing
Clean Hands Ball winning Pace
Endurance Recovery & Agility Durability
Leadership Aggression Character
Competitiveness Football Smarts
The benefits of using a consistent language throughout your football program are enormous. These are:
- Reduces anxiety for all stakeholders (players, coaching group and parents).
- It creates familiarity for the players!
- It unifies your football program across all developmental stages.
- It enables coaches to identify areas that is relevant to player development
- Enables players to take control of their football by identifying areas that they fell they need more work on
- Assists coaches with providing meaningful and actionable feedback
If club coaches are all on the same page in terms of team principles, club culture, setting up training programs, questioning and providing feedback, then you are well on your way to establishing a consistent and unified approach for your players in a safe, fun and learning environment.