Every year there are many new coaches all over the world who want to help players improve and enjoy the game. Most of these coaches are parents to one or more of the players, not all of these parents coach because of their love of the game but they do coach out of love at some level. Maybe some of these parents had to take the role of coach for their children’s team just because no one else would. On the other hand you also have former players with different levels of experience that start to coach every year. You have the former professional player who has a lot of experience from the game, but may lack theoretical knowledge or an understanding of how to coach. There is also the former player who realized at an early age that the only part of their body that were good at playing football was the brain and therefore want to coach instead. Some new coaches might be a combination of what is described above.
What does all of these new coaches have in common? Whether it be the parent coach, the former pro player or the young kid who decided to start coaching? Well, they are all human beings and they all step into the role of the coach. However, they do so with a vast difference of knowledge and experience which gives them all different starting points for coaching their players. The objective for all these new coaches are the same because they are coaching the same game. This means that all new coaches should have the same starting point. You could call it a common level of minimum knowledge about the game and the coaching of football players.
We know that this is not the case and that there is a very differencing level of knowledge about football and coaching for new coaches coming into the game. This is also something the governing body of the sport, FIFA knows and the reason why your local football federation offers coaching courses. Now, you would think that these coaching courses, especially the first one for new coaches, would all look the same all over the world. It is the same sport that is played on all continents of the world is it not? A football player in China has the same number of team-mates, opponents on an equally big pitch as the player in England. However, when comparing the courses and the literature that is distributed by different football federations all over the world you might start to think that they are educating coaches to coach different sports.
What is fascinating is that on most coaching courses by the federations to new coaches there are little or no talk about what the game actually is. Usually the coach educator dives straight into handing out different drills or exercises, tricks for keeping the children under control and showing the new coaches “how it’s supposed to be done”. Just imagine you are a student at a university learning advanced math and your professor comes into the classroom and gives you the answers to the equation, but never teaches you the principles for solving the equation on your own. This is football education in most places of the world today. You receive a problem; improving football players, and some nice person with a badge of the federation (or a top club) provides you with an answer. The problem is that you do not know if this answer is the correct one, and it never is. Since the answer you received was derived from a different equation (i.e. other players than yours) it can never be 100% correct. Would it not be better if the coach education taught you the underlying principles for improving football players?
As a new coach, learning about the characteristics of the game and of coaching football will give you a much greater chance of reaching the objective of improving football players. If you as a coach has an objective reference for what the game is and what coaching football is you are in a much better position to help your players improve than if you do not. When you have attained a basic theoretical knowledge of football and coaching you will be able to conduct training sessions that improve your players and lets them enjoy the game. Of course, having the theoretical knowledge and objective references for the game and coaching doesn’t mean you will be the best coach the world has ever seen; how you apply this knowledge is the next step in your education to become a football coach.