Steven Poacher

Steven Poacher – Do modern pundits understand coaching?

LAST weekend saw 11 senior inter-county games down for decision including three provincial finals.

The coverage and analysis of these games, in my opinion, was excellent and for the first time in a long while I thoroughly enjoyed The Sunday Game with Tomas O’Se and Sean Cavanagh providing excellent analysis. Outside of Aidan O’Rourke’s new articles for RTE and the excellent coverage on Sky Sports, the analysis of our games had been shockingly poor to date.

We have a number of regular faces who frequent our screens, demanding what way the game should be played and lambasting other teams for playing a certain way and winning. Maybe they’ll fire a personal insult towards individuals who are making a difference or contributing to the game on the frontline coupled with the odd sensational comment in search of the headline.

Seldom do we get any clear analysis on the game though. There is never talk of kick-out strategies, key defensive match-ups are never mentioned, defensive strategies and offensive strategies are seldom talked about, game management ignored.

It really is pretty poor and prehistoric stuff when we consider the potential out there to have our games properly reviewed and analysed, hence why Sunday past was so enjoyable as we got that in great detail for the first time in a long time.

Maybe we don’t get that decent analysis because the guys doing it aren’t regarded as coaches and don’t really understand coaching. Most are just so called personalities or former players, but speak to any coach and they will have their own philosophy and also their own thoughts on style of football and how the game should be played with the latter will probably dictated by the group of players you are working with.

Developing your own coaching philosophy is what I am focusing on this week. Develop it and believe in it.

Some people get confused with a coaching philosophy and a style of play, they couldn’t be more different. A coaching philosophy is unique to every coach and it symbolizes a set of values, principles and beliefs whereas a style of play may change depending on the group of players at your disposal.

For what it is worth, here is my own coaching philosophy that I have rewritten on a number of occasions but is unique to me and something I use in both school, club and even at county level. It’s something I firmly believe in.

“Installing a spirit and togetherness in a group of players and providing a high level energetic coaching environment which will help players reach their potential while also having fun. Everyone will be treated equally and no one individual, whether that be coach or player, is more important than the team. Ultimately the star of the team is the team!”

Your coaching philosophy develops and evolves over a number of years. I firmly believe it is your identity as a coach, what you stand for and how you will be remembered. Every second coach will have a different philosophy, no two will ever be the same.

Regardless, the first thing to remember when coaching is to be yourself; you simply cannot be anyone else.

The great John Wooden use to say, “Time spent comparing yourself to others, is time spent wasted.” Don’t let anyone try to mould you into something or someone you are not, everybody’s coaching style is unique. Be yourself, understand yourself; don’t make the mistake of trying to emulate a successful coach who has the complete opposite personality of whom you are. It will not work, just concentrate on growing to be the best coach you can possible be.

Always continue travelling on your journey as a coach. Coaching courses are only a small part of your journey, do not be afraid to accept feedback from players, other coaches, observe other coaches, what is good practice, what is not, how could you adapt what they’re doing and bring it into your own unique coaching style.

As coaches we all need to improve and continually learn every day to help provide our players with the best possible knowledge.

I remember reading a quote about teaching once which can be implied to coaching. It was from a guy called William A. Ward and it read: “the mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates but the great teacher truly inspires.” That’s your goal as a coach to inspire as many people that you possibly can and create those good long lasting memories.

Work is tough, life is tough, sport is tough but as a coach you can and you are making a real difference, keep going!