What is the purpose of the football coach within the game of football? We know what the coach does in training when interacting with the players, we call that coaching football. But why is the football coach present in training and what is it that the person in this role is supposed to do? In order to answer these questions we will take a philosophical approach to the game and see where the football coach fits.
The starting point for coaching football is the objective characteristics of the game. The fact is that football is a game with a set of rules, it is played on a surface that has certain boundaries within a certain time frame. In order to win this game your team needs to score minimum one more goal than the opponent who are also trying to win. The number of players, the size of the surface and the time that you play the game might vary depending on certain external factors as for example the age of the players and your local federation and their adaptations of the rules.
In every game of football when one team has control of the ball they are attacking and the other team is defending. When control of the ball is lost one team is transitioning from attacking to defending while the other team is transitioning from defending to attacking. This is what is called team functions, the whole team is constantly either attacking, defending or transitioning between these team functions during a game. When attacking, your team is either building up in order to create scoring opportunities or trying to convert these chances by scoring. At the same time the opponent is defending by disrupting your build up or disrupting your attempt to score. Together with transitioning to attacking and transitioning to defending these are different team tasks that your team is executing in every game.
Within these different team functions and team tasks your players are constantly interacting with their surrounding. For example, when your team is attacking and building up, your players are interacting with the field, their teammates and their opponents in order to create a chance to score a goal. They do this by executing different football (inter)actions such as passing, creating space, dribbling, shooting etc. However, before your player can pass the ball, the player first communicates with their surrounding in order to know where the ball is, where their teammates and opponents are, and of course where they themselves are positioned on the field. It is only when they have this information, the non-verbal and verbal communication of their surroundings that the player is able to make a decision. If the player decides to pass the ball they execute this decision by kicking the ball in a certain way to a teammate from a certain position, at a certain moment, in a certain direction, at a certain speed. This means that a football (inter)action is communication, decision making and the execution of that decision within the context of the team function and team task.
At a higher level of football the game is played at a higher tempo than at a lower level. The amount of space and time available for the players to make decisions and execute these decisions at a higher level is less than at a lower level. This means that players who play at a higher level needs to execute football actions faster than a player at a lower level. At a lower level, players have more space and time available for executing the same football action than at a higher level. The football actions themselves are the same on all levels of football, for example you press, pass and dribble both at a lower level and a higher level. However, the difference between a lower level and a higher level is the space and time available for each player to make a decision and execute that decision.
In order to go from a lower level to a higher level your players need to make better decisions and execute these decisions better. In other words, the quality of their football actions needs to improve. A higher quality football action is better communication (non-verbal & verbal), better decision making and execution of that decision. When there is less space and less time, the quality of communication between teammates need to be higher as well as the quality of the individual players decision making that also needs to be higher.
The question then becomes, how are your players going to improve the quality of their football actions? And this is where you, in the role as the football coach comes into play. As a football coach your role is to improve the quality of your players football actions. This means that the reason for the coach to be in the training session is to improve the communication between players within the different team functions and team tasks by improving the decision making of the individual players. By helping players make better decisions you as the coach are improving the quality of your players football actions and as a result you are improving football.