How do you coach?

When you are coaching your players you probably do that in different ways depending on certain things, and as we saw in the posts What influences your coaching – Part 1 and Part 2 the influences are your personality and your context. Leading is how you coach which is influenced by your leadership style as mentioned in the post Coaching vs Leading. Let’s have a look at the different leadership styles that influence how you coach your players.

Are you telling your players what to do all the time? Maybe you find it hard to not have control and you end up telling both your players and your staff exactly what to do and when to do it. This way of leading can be effective in some short moments when there is some sort of crisis, but in general you might want to think about changing your ways. Imagine that you are a player and your coach is always telling you where to play the ball and when to go forward, sideways or back. Do you as a player increase your level of decision making? No, because there is no need for you to make a decision, the coach has already made it for you. In the game of football the players are the ones making decisions and executing them on the pitch, not the coach. Therefore telling your players what to do all the time will not be a successful way of coaching in the long run. When you are telling your players what to do you are coaching like a commander (or a dictator) and that is not an effective leadership style for coaching players since they are not allowed to make their own decisions.

Maybe you are guiding your players to find the answers themselves when you are coaching? You use a range of open to closed questions and set up the training sessions as a part of the greater curriculum that is guiding your players from one level to the next in their development. You are coaching like a teacher, the only difference is that the classroom is most often outside on the green grass and it’s football instead of for example maths. Imagine yourself being a player under a coach that is a good teacher of the game. Do you think that your decision making would evolve and that your level of executing decisions in the game would increase over time? That means that coaching as a teacher, by guiding your players through the process of learning the game and your style of play, is an effective leadership style to develop players.

What if you are asking your players what the best strategy for winning the next game is? That’s a different way of coaching, letting the players decide themselves and being there as a coach only to facilitate the process. Imagine being an older player that has played the game for 10-15 years at a good level and won a couple of trophies, you most certainly have some knowledge of the game and a lot of experience right? Do you want the coach to tell you what to do, teach you what you already know or would you rather have a coach that understands how to use your knowledge and experience? As a coach for a more experienced group of players it could be wise to coach as a manager by asking the players more and focusing on maintaining the current level of the players. If you want to maintain the level of your players the most effective leadership style is to be a manager when you coach.

These different ways of coaching, by telling, guiding or asking your players are a result of the influence by different leadership styles. If you are telling your players what to do you are a commander, if you are guiding the process you are a teacher and if you are asking them you are a manager. As a coach you may be using all three leadership styles in your coaching from time to time. In one session you might go from teacher to commander and finish off as a manager even though one of these leadership styles are probably more natural for you. Now the question is if you are aware of which of these leadership styles you use the most and why?

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