In this post we will look at the role of the coach educator in the context of observing coaches on the pitch in training sessions. As a part of mentoring coaches and when consulting clubs there has been observation of sessions with direct feedback to coaches with a written report afterwards. These experiences and the comments from the coaches observed is the background for this post and it’s content.
Think back to when you did your last coaching course and where on the pitch delivering a session. When you received feedback afterwards, how was that feedback delivered and what did it consist of? Most of the coaches observed this year noted that their previous experiences from coaching courses was that the feedback often consisted of opinions from the coach educator. For example; ”I think that…”, ”Maybe you should’ve…”, ”In my opinion that was…” and so on. There was usually not any objective feedback that they felt was really helpful. This of course doesn’t mean that the feedback from the coach educator was useless, all coaches reported getting some valuable tips that helped them in their execution of coaching actions. But they also noted that they expected more from the course and the feedback.
What is the problem with experienced coach educators basing their feedback to young and inexperienced coaches on their opinion when giving feedback? These coach educators are often coaches with a lot of experience, isn’t learning from them and their experience exclusively a good thing? Well, of course it’s good to learn from other coaches experiences, the problem however is that these experiences are from a football situation that had specific external factors that the young coaches does not have in their specific football situations. If coach educators teach coaches by giving feedback based on their own opinions and personality they are teaching the coaches to subjectively apply someone else’s subjectivity. Chaos!
When observing a session as a coach educator it’s easy to fall into the trap of either comparing the coaching actions to those of other coaches or noticing certain actions that you think are good/bad and give feedback to the coach based on your subjective opinion. However, when observing a session all coaching actions should be evaluated within the context of the game and the characteristics of coaching football. This way the feedback to the coach will be objective in the context of football and not subjective in the context of the coach educator’s opinion.
So, how can you as a coach educator make sure that your observation and feedback is based on objectivity and your subjective opinions? The first step is to make sure that you observe the actual coaching actions executed by the coach and not make assumptions of the coach’s intentions or thoughts. It’s impossible to know what someone else is thinking but it’s very possible to observe their actions. The next step is to check if the session or activity the coach is executing has all the characteristics of football present in order to make sure that there is actual coaching of football and not coaching of something else. After these first two steps you observe the coaching actions of the coach. What is being coached and how, i.e. which leadership style is used when coaching the what.
When following these steps you as the coach educator have an objective starting point for giving the coach feedback based on football. In keeping your opinions and your personality out of the equation the quality of your feedback will increase. If coach educators teach coaches by giving feedback based on the game and coaching football they are teaching the coaches to subjectively apply an objective reference. Football!