Steven Poacher

Steven Poacher – Are you evaluating yourself as a coach?

In school nowadays, waiting for an inspector to walk through the door before you evaluate won’t help you, teachers need to reflect/evaluate all the time if any productive learning is going to take place.

Being able to monitor and critically evaluate your teaching is vital and exactly the same applies to coaching as well, you must be able to reflect on what went well in a session, how you could improve that, regularly monitor your coaching style or techniques.

The same question I will be asked this year in school, I am going to pose to the coaches reading today;

How many of you stop, pause and think, after delivering a coaching session, whether it was a good one or not?

Do players get an opportunity to give feedback on what was good, or what could be better?

This is not to give you some sort of self indulging pat on the back but to help you evaluate how effective your coaching session was which is important for the development of your players and team!

It also helps create thinking footballers when players are given the opportunity to feedback on a particular session or aspect of play.

Here are five questions which may help us as coaches to evaluate, monitor and reflect on our coaching sessions:

1. Did I plan and prepare effectively for the session?

Every session should be planned either on paper or card. I use to like to type all my sessions and laminate them so I can take them onto the field with me if I need to refer to it. It also means they are stored on hard drive for as long as you want; currently

I must have over 300 training sessions stored online, a priceless commodity! You don’t have to go all IT and probably most of us don’t have the time, so you can simply buy yourself a hard back note book and fill in your sessions as your season progresses.

2. Did I communicate effectively with all the players?

Did the players understand your instructions and were they clear, precise and accurate? Did you make an effort to mention every player’s name? If not, why not? It’s simple and easy to say e.g. “good hand pass Michael” it’s positive and also makes a player feel valued and builds their self-esteem especially in underage players, I will always strive to make a point of mentioning everyone’s name at least once!

3. Did you challenge the players enough through relevant drills and games?

Did players have the opportunity to experience something new, did they have an opportunity to think for themselves, were they challenged to work out a game or were the drills simple and not relevant to game situations. Recently working with our county minors I like to pose the question to the young players, ok lads, what challenges were you faced with in that game?

4. What was your coaching behaviour during the delivery of the session?

Did you praise players, criticise players, provide players with key information? Did you show enthusiasm because your enthusiasm will rub off on those you’re coaching, the coach will lead with their enthusiasm, the players will then follow. Even as recently as last night, I was trying to incorporate something new into our play with the county minors and it took nearly 7 or 8 plays before we got anything near what we were trying to implement but patience, positivity, praise, guidance and providing thought provoking solutions are the key!

5. Did the player enjoy the session?

Possibly the most important question, always ask players collectively and individually did they enjoy the session, what exactly did they enjoy or not enjoy.

With the club, when the lads come in after every session there is a blank sheet on the medical table and they simply fire a buzz word or two to describe how the session went, this is not some sort of egotistical back slap for me, but rather a simple and effective way of finding out the player experience during the session.

You can then use the feedback from the questions to monitor and evaluate the quality of your sessions and look to change or tweak certain elements if needs to. For me the secret to good coaching, is taking players out of their comfort zone without taking them out of their depth.