A COACH’S NUMBER 1 FRUSTRATION

A Coach’s Number 1 Frustration

Coaching can provide some of the most rewarding moments in your life. Especially if you work with young athletes. But along with the rewards come the frustrations.

One of the most frustrating situations comes when your players are not able to carry out a skill or drill the way you have pictured in your mind. All your research says they should be ready for it, but in the session, 80% just don’t get it.

You’re stood in front of them thinking;

“How long do I carry on trying with this? Shall I just regress it now? No, I think they can do it.”

You walk them through it, and explain it fully, but as soon as any kind of tempo is added, their technique falls apart.

No matter how good a coach you are, no amount of great cueing will sort out a problem that’s rooted in movement ability. The only way to advance the players is to strip right back to fundamentals. That means removing the ball, taking out any competitive or reactionary element and breaking the movements down.

By breaking the movement patterns down to their constituent parts, you can isolate the problems. These issues can be worked on individually, then progressively re-integrated into the full movement pattern.

Let’s look at a simple football example. If you’re trying to coach an inside-outside dribble to beat a defensive player, you would make sure the players can adequately and consistently perform a turn with the outside of the foot, right?

But if you want the players to really perfect the skill so that it’s quick, balanced, reactive and undetectable, they need to be able to perform a perfect cutting action, or side step. Without the ball.

To perform an effective side step, they need to be able to achieve the following:

Ronaldo’s foundational movement skills make it easy for him to execute great skills.

  • Adopt a low centre of gravity
  • Plant a flat foot (all studs, not toes)
  • Plant it outside the base of support perpendicular to the line of force
  • Drive the foot down and away with optimal force and direction
  • Create full extension of hip, knee, and ankle
  • Maintain posture to keep head up and transfer energy
  • 2nd step should be powerful and in the new direction (no good needing 2-3 steps to change direction).

Your players should be able to walk this through and describe this for you, let alone demonstrate proficiency. Only by knowing exactly how it should feel and what they’re aiming for can they analyse and self correct.

In order to carry this movement out effectively, the players need to have developed the following physical capabilities:

  • Ankle mobility – tight calve and stiff ankles will result in player being on toes. Less power and stability with high risk of knee, ankle sprain.
  • Great postural strength – torso collapsing results in energy loss and the head drops so eyes removed from game
  • Hip mobility – to fully extend without compensation while opposite hip drives in new direction.
  • Pelvic stability – for energy transfer and to prevent groin injuries
  • Single leg strength – to absorb and push off with no compensation
  • Proprioception and awareness – so can feel exactly where they are and what they’re doing. This way the athlete can make adjustments on the fly if needed.

In an ideal scenario, all young athletes should have developed these skills, but the reality is that most do no other activities other than their sport. That means it’s down to the sports coach to develop these areas of movement if the players are to progress and reach their potential. Hell, it’s not going to get any better sat at a desk in school or playing on the X-Box at home.

When players develop the foundational athleticism demanded by the sport first, coaching the skills is significantly easier. In this example, the players can perform a great side step, so all you have to do is introduce the ball and ask them to push it with the outside of the boot as they make the side step. Because they are balanced and strong on one leg, the application of a ball skill on top is a comfortable one.

When you break the movements down into their fundamentals you can clear up the issues, then re-integrate.

Doesn’t this just sound like whole-part-whole coaching?

I know what you’re going to say, who’s got the time to strip things back that far?  You’ve got 10 minutes per session to work on a movement pattern. You’ll be rehearsing the movements of the sport. Hitting the required positions, going through full range and gradually speeding up. Sounds like a specific warm up to me.

Except it’s not JUST a warm up. It actually makes them better athletes in the process.

Here’s a thought for you. What if, you had a strategy to develop the movement ability in the phase before you introduce the skill. It’s all down to how far ahead you plan your sessions. But in a progressive plan for juniors, you should be thinking long term, no?

If this all sounds like hard work, contact me. It’s what we do day in day out at Speed Academy. Maybe we can help you get the most out of your teams.

 

%d bloggers like this: