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Ask the Coach: Is positive, directional sideline coaching OK?

April, 24th, 2013

Ask the Coach: Is positive, "directional" sideline coaching OK?

Question: I often yell at the kids from the sidelines, but it’s all positive and "directional." Getting them into position when they drift, telling them when a player is approaching them, when they have time to settle the ball, etc. One day I stopped and my son asked me: "Why didn’t you let me know what was happening during this game?" Is there a place for directional coaching, or is it all just screaming?

  • Answer: You answered your own question, Coach. The fact that a player expected your advice is exactly why you shouldn’t be instructing during a game.

    If, at this crucial stage of their development, you tell players what they should do and when they should do it, they will be lost when they can no longer depend on sideline advice. Despite your good intentions, you are denying them the chance to learn how to read the game.

    Soccer requires making split-second decisions. "Should I pass, shoot or dribble?" Players must learn to deal with time and space, and how to move around – to combine with teammates and how to anticipate the opponents’ movements. Mastering this is a gradual process that requires the freedom to experiment and learn from trial and error.

    Telling them when and how to make decisions interferes with their natural learning process. If they are to become high-level players they must be allowed to play without coach interference. Besides, this is their playtime, and they have a right to play without adults dictating how.

    You may have good advice for them. If so, you can give it at halftime or – better yet – during practice. ("Take your time to settle the ball. You don't need to kick it right away.")

    But the best thing you can do to help players learn how to read the game is put them in small-sided game situations during practice. All of soccer, at every level, is constantly about 2 vs. 2 situations. The more they face this challenge in practice, the more likely they are to figure out the best options.

    And finally, the truly great players are those who improvise and do the unpredictable. If, at a young age they become dependent on sideline instruction, they are less likely become creative, intelligent players.

  • Don Young of Redlands, Calif., Region 50 has been an AYSO coach for 15 years. In response to the April 27, 2010 Hey Coach! question, “Are You a Screamer?”, Don submitted some techniques to help coaches modify their screaming behavior:

    “As you mentioned, they are often not aware of the extent of their behavior (or the impact that it has on the players). Here are a few ideas to help them to change:

    1. Don’t pair up with another screamer! Pair up with someone that you respect, someone who will walk over and nudge or bump you when you are acting inappropriately and act as a calming influence. Too often the coach who is a screamer pairs up with someone else who has a similar intensity instead of someone who is calmer and will be a better balance.
    2. Wear slacks. You are less likely to be a screamer if you are dressed up.
    3. Sit in a chair while you coach. It is harder to yell while you are sitting.
    4. Sit in a beach chair. It is almost impossible to yell when your legs are sticking straight out in front of you.
    5. Remember, kids are not X-boxes and pushing the “A” button while yelling at them will not get them to run any faster!”

    ..............................................................................................................................

    Let us know…

    If you have any other tips to quiet down screaming coaches, we’d love to hear them. Please send us your comments and suggestions aysobrooklyncoach@gmail.com.

Ask the Coach: Is positive, directional sideline coaching OK?

April, 24th, 2013

Ask the Coach: Is positive, "directional" sideline coaching OK?

Question: I often yell at the kids from the sidelines, but it’s all positive and "directional." Getting them into position when they drift, telling them when a player is approaching them, when they have time to settle the ball, etc. One day I stopped and my son asked me: "Why didn’t you let me know what was happening during this game?" Is there a place for directional coaching, or is it all just screaming?

  • Answer: You answered your own question, Coach. The fact that a player expected your advice is exactly why you shouldn’t be instructing during a game.

    If, at this crucial stage of their development, you tell players what they should do and when they should do it, they will be lost when they can no longer depend on sideline advice. Despite your good intentions, you are denying them the chance to learn how to read the game.

    Soccer requires making split-second decisions. "Should I pass, shoot or dribble?" Players must learn to deal with time and space, and how to move around – to combine with teammates and how to anticipate the opponents’ movements. Mastering this is a gradual process that requires the freedom to experiment and learn from trial and error.

    Telling them when and how to make decisions interferes with their natural learning process. If they are to become high-level players they must be allowed to play without coach interference. Besides, this is their playtime, and they have a right to play without adults dictating how.

    You may have good advice for them. If so, you can give it at halftime or – better yet – during practice. ("Take your time to settle the ball. You don't need to kick it right away.")

    But the best thing you can do to help players learn how to read the game is put them in small-sided game situations during practice. All of soccer, at every level, is constantly about 2 vs. 2 situations. The more they face this challenge in practice, the more likely they are to figure out the best options.

    And finally, the truly great players are those who improvise and do the unpredictable. If, at a young age they become dependent on sideline instruction, they are less likely become creative, intelligent players.

  • Don Young of Redlands, Calif., Region 50 has been an AYSO coach for 15 years. In response to the April 27, 2010 Hey Coach! question, “Are You a Screamer?”, Don submitted some techniques to help coaches modify their screaming behavior:

    “As you mentioned, they are often not aware of the extent of their behavior (or the impact that it has on the players). Here are a few ideas to help them to change:

    1. Don’t pair up with another screamer! Pair up with someone that you respect, someone who will walk over and nudge or bump you when you are acting inappropriately and act as a calming influence. Too often the coach who is a screamer pairs up with someone else who has a similar intensity instead of someone who is calmer and will be a better balance.
    2. Wear slacks. You are less likely to be a screamer if you are dressed up.
    3. Sit in a chair while you coach. It is harder to yell while you are sitting.
    4. Sit in a beach chair. It is almost impossible to yell when your legs are sticking straight out in front of you.
    5. Remember, kids are not X-boxes and pushing the “A” button while yelling at them will not get them to run any faster!”

    ..............................................................................................................................

    Let us know…

    If you have any other tips to quiet down screaming coaches, we’d love to hear them. Please send us your comments and suggestions aysobrooklyncoach@gmail.com.