Top Down

What do you see when looking around on the internet or when you are at coaching seminars? Do you mostly see objective information about the game and how to improve your knowledge or is it mostly the flavor of the month, a quick fix to be a successful coach and books about drills? You probably recognize that in these environments it’s mostly the quick fix that is bated around for gullible coaches to bite and swallow. Drills and ”methods” that has worked well in someones environment and that is sold as universal even though it is per definition a subjective application based on their external factors, not yours.

It is interesting to think about where this need for a quick fix comes from and why there are so many coaches buying books filled with drills instead of learning about the game. Imagine if your child’s teacher would buy books on the execution of a class-session instead of learning thoroughly about the subject they are teaching at the university. How would that make you feel as a parent, knowing that your child’s teacher doesn’t really know what they are talking about, but only applying someone else’s session and subjective experiences? The teacher would have to hope that something sticks with your child so that they can claim learning has taken place and that they have done their job.

Could it be that this behavior by coaches of looking for drills instead of learning objectively about the game has something to do with what happened at their first coaching course? Think back to when you walked into the room at your first coaching course and reflect on how the structure of the course was and what kind of information was presented. Did the coach educator start with an objective reference of the characteristics of the game or was it straight into subjective application and experiences?

”Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

Imagine walking into that room with an urge to learn about football and expecting a coach educator who would teach you about the game in an objective way. Unfortunately, the coach educator probably started by sharing knowledge based on subjectivity, either from the experiences of the coach educator or the information put together by the federation with good intentions, but a poor and subjective chaos as a result. There was probably a nice looking Power Point presentation and a very nice coach educator. However, the presentation had too much information and you probably struggled to make sense of the context and structure. The coach educator gave you some advise that may or may not have been relevant for you and you discussed everyones favorite drills as ll the coaches in the room shared their experiences.

What is wrong with this picture of your official introduction to coaching football? Imagine yourself sitting there during the course and feeling like you were told what to do in terms of drills and coaching methods. Odds are you wouldn’t really understand why that drill was good or why that method was the way to coach because something was missing. It could be that when the coach educator showed you some drills you where happy that there was finally something that you could understand, take note of and bring back home. However, it’s also possible that you recognized this top down style of education from school and your time in the classroom many years ago. You didn’t like it then and you don’t like it now. What do you remember from school anyway?

After finishing your first coaching course you received a certificate that says that you are now a competent coach, even though you didn’t learn anything except some drills. These drills where recommended to you by someone because it worked for them in their environment with their external factors. As a certified coach when someone asks you to describe what football is, you end up using words that you heard last night on TV and respond with non-contextual words like ”feelings”, ”enjoyment” and ”passion” while struggling to keep a straight face. Maybe you are lucky enough to recognize that you don’t really know what you are talking about and think to yourself ”why wasn’t I educated about what football is when I attended my first coaching course?”.

Instead of this subjective top down coach education, the solution for federations worldwide is to first educate coaches about the game in an objective and factual way. When the context of football is clear, coaches can come up with their own drills and subjective methods suited for their external factors. Instead of giving away drills and quick fixes to coaches the federation should provide these coaches with an objective way of thinking about football. ”Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. If coaches are taught objective knowledge about the game they will have the competence to design drills that suits their subjective environment and their playing style for the rest of their career.

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