Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Developing at all costs 2

In a previous blog, Developing at all Costs, I described a scenario that made me wonder if Win at all costs had been hidden by some coaches and simply morphed into " I must be developing these players at all costs"

It was a strange occurrence but as time has gone on, I've seen it time and time again.

A more recent discussion with various coaches on Twitter has left me wondering how far we've come down this road and whether "development" has turned into something just as extreme.

Developing footballers is a noble pursuit that I actively encourage and partake in.

I am a strong believer that Football is for everyone. It encompasses a wide spectrum of opinions and outlooks. This is healthy. The game is too valuable to belong to one school of thought.

I've written previously about how a coach should work out their philosophy based on their values and principles. There is nothing inherently wrong with setting up your team to win the league and cup double, beat every opponent win trophies galore. 

Likewise, there is nothing wrong with seeing football as a fun, social activity where everyone can join and results are never even thought about. 

In between are a myriad of different options and views. That's all fine. 

All that really matters is that the coach has been open about his approach, has communicated it well, and players and parents have been able to choose with their eyes wide open.

Some will be attracted by a certain approach while others may run a mile. We surely just want coaches to be open, honest and then to provide an environment that makes kids want to come back.

Also, how a coach may wish to develop his players will again fit into a wide spectrum. Drills, SSG's, one on one, technical, tactical, positional, hands on or just bringing a ball and getting drinks half way through.

As the person who stepped up, it's the coaches right to decide on their input and how they see success or failure.

Parents can and will vote with their feet. Some will be attracted by an approach and others wont. A coach must also be willing to address any criticisms parents may have by
re communicating their philosophy and being open to learning.

Coaches should also be open to criticism from other coaches. Open discussion about how and why things can be done is healthy and should be encouraged. However, I'd suggest it is not a coaches job to say "you are wrong". 

Your philosophy may differ greatly but so do you. So does your club, your parents, your players and what you are trying to achieve. To try to impose YOUR philosophy on others is nothing but disrespectful. 

Differences in approach should be appreciated and commended not fought over and ridiculed. The first attempt should always be to try to understand an approach not belittle it.

I now see some attempts by coaches to insist that players are constantly "developed" as nothing more than the same fool hardy attempts to "win at all costs".

Yes kids can be developed but what if your kids aren't there for that? What if they genuinely just want to meet up with friends, have fun and not worry about "are they getting better"?

Some kids equate fun with mastery and love the challenge of moving forward. Some don't. Some see fun in different ways and some are a mixture of both on any given day. 

Also, its easily argued that if you want the young ones to truly develop or to have as much fun as possible, you should get the hell out of the way! 

Good luck explaining that to the parents who may have differing views to you or to their own children.

Football, development and fun are all too complicated for any coach to feel they have it sorted.

So, if this is true, how dare we go around criticising other well meaning coaches with different philosophies to ours. How dare we say "I'm right, you're wrong" 

Here's a recent example:

Coach A: I won a tournament game at weekend 18-2. Part way through I'd rearranged my team, put weaker players on and out of position but we were still too strong. I asked the opposition to bring another player on. He refused saying " no chance, you aren't that good"

Coach B: This is a disgrace, there is no way you should be winning games 18-2. Tell them not to score, tell them just to defend, tell them to use weak foot all the time!

Now to me, Coach B has completely missed the point. Not once did they say well done for the changes made weakening the team. Not once did they focus on the coach who refused to help. 

Ridiculing Coach A is a pathetic attempt at virtue signalling and saying "I am right and you are wrong"

Part of my philosophy is that game day is for the kids. They've done their learning and now its time to play. Because I believe this, I also think the game should be manipulated only via the rules of the game. I don't think I should manipulate game day for my team only to defend or play 17 passes in midfield before they score or to score only with their head, blindfolded with their legs tied together.

Game day is theirs. I accept and allow Power Plays if the score line gets too stretched, in fact I feel it should be automatic. The ref should just call for another player thus taking it out of a coaches hands ( ego ). 

I also make sure everyone plays. In fact I give weaker players more time because they need it. I also play kids in positions they don't like because its a great way to learn. However, I see these as natural to the game. Saying " don't score" isn't. 

It's not playing the game, and on game day, the kids come to play.

Now, I'm quite aware that some coaches may disagree with this approach but guess what? Tough.

My players and parents signed up to this approach, it the one I've thought long and hard about and suits my values. 

Guess what else? I'm also fine with your approach and am interested in how you go about it but we should all agree that unless you want to take over my responsibilities, you should let me get on with it.

You can pretend that you are limiting the score on game day to save face, or help your team develop at all costs but the game is the game. It will find its winners and losers. It can't not do. Otherwise, we may just as well all give up on the game we so clearly love.

Let's not do that. Let's work together.