10 coaching skills to reflect on during lockdown

Guide All Ages

Effective coaching is made up of knowledge and skill in many different areas. Use lockdown to reflect on your own coaching approach using the prompts below – there are links below to over 40 recommended articles to help you.
1. Develop positive relationships with players

Guru Nanak FC Ladies stand in a circle and all put their hands in the middle during a training session.
Developing a positive and trusting relationship with your players will help the coaching process.

Connecting with players and developing a positive relationship should be a start part for all coaches regardless of player age or ability. Taking time to develop trust, rapport and open communication will help the group become more receptive to your coaching ideas. 

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

2. Understand the detail of the game

An aerial photo of the Lionesses looking to stop Cameroon from launching a counter attack during their FIFA Women's World Cup match.
Listen to the insights of players and managers to help improve your knowledge of the game.

Listening to the experiences and insights of players and managers who have played and coached at the highest level of the game can help improve your technical and tactical knowledge. Take time to consider how this detail applies to the age and stage of the players you are working with.

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

3. Maximise your practice time with players

A young boy in the Foundation Phase tries to catch up with his opponent during training.
Maximise training time through well planned activities that engage players and meet multiple objectives.

Training time with players is a rare commodity – be it a grassroots coach trying to maximise their 60-minute weekly coaching session or a first-team coach finding time between fixtures. It means planning and preparing effective coaching sessions - on and off the pitch - which maximise your time with players is crucial.

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

4. Use an appropriate coaching approach

The FA's Sally Needham explains an activity during a Foundation Phase training session.
Ensure your coaching approach aligns with the age, stage and motivations of your players.

There are many different approaches to delivering coaching sessions - be it a more command style or discovery style. The age and motivations of the players, as well as the environmental factors impacting on the specific session, should all be considered. The long-term goal for the group is another useful guide to selecting a relevant coaching approach.

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

5. Don’t try and observe every aspect of the practice or game

England manager Gareth Southgate observes his players training.
Don’t try and watch every part of a coaching session – stand back and observe a specific focus.

Observation skills are crucial to the coaching process. Standing back during every coaching session and having a specific focus for your observation should be a part of every coach’s repertoire. For example: you may just focus on how an individual is moving off the ball in order to receive. What you see should inform your interventions and communication with players.

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

6. Consider what you say and how you say it

England assistant manager, Steve Holland, provides instructions during a training session.
Don’t leave your coaching communication to chance -  have a plan for what you are going to say

Your coaching approach is brought to life through the things you say and how you say them. Having a communication plan for training and matchday is an important part of any coaching methodology and key to developing an effective relationship with your players.

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

7. Help your players manage emotions to their advantage

England's Harry Kane hugs Declan Rice, offering support following the Three Lions' Nations League defeat to the Netherlands.
Winning and losing are opportunities for coaches to educate players and develop their resilience and coping skills.

Games of football, at all levels, prompt a range of emotions – some positive, some negative. Helping your players to manage these emotions to their advantage will help them reach their potential and enjoy the game.

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

8. Use the game as an opportunity to develop social skills

A group of players taking part in a Women's Development Pathway training session laugh together.
Being part of a team can bring a sense of belonging and help develop important life lessons.

Playing football and being part of a team can create a sense of belonging and help develop life skills. Don’t underestimate the importance of using football as a tool to help develop social skills – ensuring there is a benefit for individuals both on and off the pitch.

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

9. Have a plan for player behaviour

A whiteboard placed on the grass for a training session reads: Safety, Learn, Respect.
Agreeing boundaries with your players can help manage any problem behaviour during a session.

Coaching sessions and matchday can throw up many unexpected challenges. How to help manage player behaviour is a key part of the coaching process and shouldn’t be left to chance. Having a plan for potential poor behaviour should include boundaries, routines and agreed language.

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

10. Work effectively as a coaching pair and engage parents

Two FA coaches working with players on the U14's girls talent pathway, share their thoughts with each other.
Defining roles and agreeing a plan for the session will help you work more effectively as a coaching pair.

Coaching can be a lonely pursuit. However, there are always people you who can help. You might be part of a coaching team with multiple members of staff or work with a parent volunteer– ensure you fully maximise these resources for the benefit of the players. Similarly, think about how to work more closely with parents so they feel part of the process.

To find out more about this topic, click the links below.

Peter Glynn is the content editor for FA Education and has coaching experience in the professional and grassroots game.

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