Turn the curriculum on its head. Replace it with game centered concepts with questions and problems as defining themes.
In the blog post ” Development Model or The Emperor’s New Clothes” I referred to the problems with the linear model associated with more traditional structured coaching and how it can have a negative effect on learning.
As part of my Coaching in Context philosophy (in the context of the game and in the context of the needs of the child) I propose some suggestions to help coaches design their training sessions to optimize learning.
Non Linear Training Design
- Training sessions should be presented in an easy to digest format
- Access to advanced content for the more interested learners (or those who are ready)
- Provide learner choice for parallel content
- You make the learning experience deeper by providing relevant links to other game situations etc.
- The learner takes the path that works for him/her. Multiple paths with multiple solutions.
- The coach can set a goal of what he would like his players to learn but he does not decide what is to be learned on the way to the goal.
If we take my “Coaching in Context” training session from a previous blog.as an example we can analyse it with reference to the 6 points above on non-linear training design.
Clear Headline: Passing and Control- “See the Ball”
Short Explanation: If you can get in to a position where you can see the ball it is easier to receive the ball.
Advanced learning: You need to think about when should you move into space so that you can “see the ball” and what you are going to do when you receive the ball. As a team we need to create width and depth
More Detailed Information for further/deeper learning
- Control with correct foot-Body shape,
- Creating passing alternatives ( Left , Right, Forward)
- Identify, occupy, use space
- Control with movement
- Communication ( Verbal, non- verbal)
- Scan the field while catching glimpses of the ball
- Make a decision before you receive the ball
- Passing to create a goal scoring chance
- Passing our way out of trouble.
- Move the ball to move the opponent
Multiple Paths: Perhaps the learner starts the passing and control excercise from the point of view of communication (verbal, non-verbal) prompting others to communicate with him.
Parallel content: In this case it could be a defensive action say closing off the passing lanes. (Stop your opponent from seeing the ball). When I did this session as part of a workshop for BK Azalea in Goteborg Sweden I was really impressed how towards the end of the session the young players (born 2004) started working on parallel content. It added a real competitive edge to the session making it even more game realistic.
At the end of the session I asked. What did we work on and what can we take with us from today’s training? The aim of the session was to work on improving the “passing”. The answers the kids gave reminded me of the fact that as coaches we may have aims with what we are trying to achieve in our training session, but that does not necessarily determine what is to be learned.
Here are some of the answers I got:
- Control with the correct foot
- Create space
- See the ball
- When defending stop your opponents from seeing the ball.
- Create width when you have the ball
- Wall pass
- Fitness ( we had to move a lot more than usual )
- Dribbling ( movement created more space to dribble)
The coach can set a goal of what he would like his players to learn but he does not decide what is to be learned on the way to that goal.
The aim of many traditional drills is to develop technique while games or modified games contextualize technique and develop skills. Skill is the application of technique under pressure. Mark Upton also provides us with a good definition of skill.
Skill = adapting movement to “fit” the game context – Mark Upton
This stresses the importance of “coaching in context” as decision making is based on perception, what is seen and the information taken in by the young player. This allows learners to become attuned to game contexts and adapt their movements accordingly.
If we value learning, we respect that it is not a race. Then the potential for a transformation away from the conventional football education paradigm is extraordinary. Yet with how many coaches does this register? There are many well-meaning attempts to promote excellence among our young players but it more than often happens in the parallel universe of a result orientated environment. Is it any wonder that the development of talent can get lost in the traditional conveyor belt of talent identification? Especially when during this very important learning period talent and winning/ beating an opponent are not recognised as distinct concepts. We must respect the fact that learning and development are non-linear. If we want to create a learning space for our players, then we must create a space for them to learn.