Coaching Session 11/11/2015

On Wednesday 11th November 2015, I took on a challenge which I haven’t, and never thought I would, do before. On behalf of Preston North End, I carried out a football session at a Nursery called Poplars. Going into this session made me think of many things such as, how many participants would there be? What the age range of these children would be? Have they ever played before? Have they even seen a football before? Do they even know what a football is? All these thoughts were giving me mixed emotions and it was only when arriving at the nursery, did I realise what I had got myself in for.

This session cried out the basic fundamentals of sport and the basic movements which a young child at this age needs. I as a coach felt that there was no point in trying to teach a 2-3 year old how to kick a ball and how to jump to head the ball, when some of them don’t even know what a football is or haven’t even seen a football before. What children in this modern day society at this age need to is work on the basic fundamentals of movement, such as running, jumping, skipping and catching. These are the areas in which we focused on throughout this session at the nursery. Sports coach UK clearly understands that fundamentals mustn’t be overlooked within sport. Firstly, they quote ‘Whichever path the individual takes, the benefits of a good grounding in FUNdamentals cannot be overestimated’ (Connolly et al., 2013). This piece of evidence is very credible as it highlights my view on fundamentals. What this theory is stating is that, although the participants involved might not have a career within sport itself, teaching them fundamentals at an early age is vital for them to go on and succeed in their future. This then supports my argument in that teaching the athletes the basic fundamentals, rather then focusing on one specific sport and trying to teach them the technical and tactical side, I as the coach am taking in the importance of fundamentals and allowing the children to learn basic skills which they need to have in their future to allow them to benefit in the best possibly way.

Sports Coach UK also states ‘ The critical, fundamental phase is often overlooked by coaches, teachers and parents, who focus on competition and winning rather than the acquisition of basic skills and fitness’ (Connolly et al., 2013). This is another great piece of theory as this is highlighting the views and mindsets of managers an/or coaches of modern day society. Coaches and managers, especially in grass roots football, are more focused on winning and achieving trophies at the end of every season, rather than focusing on the fundamentals of a session and what the children actually need to be successful in life.  Learning the basic fundamentals will allow participants to have an ‘enjoyable participation and a lifelong interest in an active lifestyle’ (Quinn, 2012). Surely this is more important to any sports coach to develop the athletes in this way, rather than wanting to win and achieve trophies purely to make them feel successful?

This coaching session was a huge eye opener for myself in terms of learning as a coach. Throughout this session, I followed the ‘let them play’ style of coaching. The fact that these participants are only 2-3 years of age, clearly sparks the view that shouting at them to listen and lecturing them with lots of information for them to try and work towards will just cause their concentration to deteriorate very quickly. The fact that I let them play as the term suggests and didn’t shout at them for doing their own thing rather than what I wanted them to do, allowed me to see that the participants got more out of this than if I kept telling them to stop and telling them off. I believe that children learn by themselves, we as coaches are here to help them along the way and keep them on the right track, but the children themselves learn in their own way and will be able to learn new things and adapt by themselves. I feel that this coaching session was a huge eye opener for myself and has allowed me to question my coaching style of early intervention and think about letting the participants themselves find the flaws within their performance and try and learn themselves, with a few hints and pointers from me as the coach.

Although this style of coaching does have its negatives, I am willing to try this way of coaching for the foreseeable future to see what outcomes I can achieve and whether this style of approach is the most effective way of player development. I will carry on reflecting on my coaching sessions using this style and analyzing what has gone well, not only within my performance as a coach but how this style can effect the player and their development of their performance. This coaching session at the nursery went fantastic and using this style of coaching was very effective. They learnt the basic fundamentals and were able to practice this effectively. Although a football was introduced, it was to allow them to catch the ball and get a feel of what catching involves and how it is formed. There was no evidence of the footballs being at the participants feet, teaching them how to pass and tackle and shoot, because this isn’t focusing on the basic fundamentals which they need to have an active and enjoyable lifestyle in the future. I cant wait to head back to this nursery to continue to teach the young participants the basic and essential movement skills they need.

Reference List:

Connolly, P., Forman, G., Bradshaw, A. and Lara-Bercial, S. (2013) Quick Guide: Coaching for Fundamentals. Available at: http://www.activegloucestershire.org/Resources/Misc/Coaching/20for20FUNdamentals.pdf (Accessed: 13 November 2015).

Connolly, P., Forman, G., Bradshaw, A. and Lara-Bercial, S. (2013) Quick Guide: Coaching for Fundamentals. Available at: http://www.activegloucestershire.org/Resources/Misc/Coaching/20for20FUNdamentals.pdf (Accessed: 13 November 2015).

Quinn, S. (2012) Fundamental Skills & Physical Literacy. Available at: http://www.northwestcoaching.com/sites/default/files/FundamentalSkillsPhysicalLiteracy.pdf (Accessed: 13 November 2015).

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