How to improve as a grassroots coach

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The FA’s Les Howie urges grassroots coaches to explore the many opportunities on offer to extend their coaching knowledge.
We want to develop a culture in this country where our grassroots coaches are dedicated to self-improvement and learning rather than simply chasing the next coaching award.
Our aim is to help coaches to become the best coach they can be at the level which they work. This may mean becoming the most skilled and effective coach of U8 or U9 grassroots players.

We want coaches to seek out CPD and learning opportunities which are relevant and applicable to the level of the game they are working at and the age range and the ability of the players in their care.

Grassroots coaches must learn what the grassroots game actually looks like and tailor their approach to the age, ability and maturation of the players. This means not imposing unrealistic expectations on young developing players or trying to manage like the touchline managers we see on Sky Sports.

If our grassroots coaches understand what the needs and motivations are of our young players, they’ll become much more effective at challenging and improving the players technically, physically, psychologically and socially to help them develop a lifelong love of the game.

FA courses, CPD events, webinars and coaching content on The Boot Room can help to develop this understanding, however, to become an expert teacher of the game, coaches must develop a culture of learning. It’s about having an attitude and appetite to always want to learn.

Encouragingly, there are now more opportunities than ever before for coaches to develop themselves. But away from courses and events, I would urge coaches to go and watch good coaches work. We now have FA regional coaches working in every county in the country. Contact them and go and observe them working with young players.

It’s also important that coaches embrace modern technology. The Boot Room offers more coaching session footage and accompanying content than ever before. The challenge for coaches is to look through the content and then experiment, adapt and tweak it to your group in your environment.

Self-responsibility is crucial. The opportunities to learn and better yourself as a coach are out there, if you want to improve you must go and find them.

Grassroots football coach
Improving your understanding of what your players need will help you to design more relevant and challenging sessions for them.

Top tips for getting into the game
1. Complete your qualifications

To be employable you must be as qualified as you can be, but you also must get out there and practice your coaching. It’s crucial that you make the theory you gain on your qualifications work in your environment by practising your delivery as much as possible.

2. Get a mentor

Seek out an inspirational coach who you can observe, learn from and ask questions. If possible, get them to watch you work and then begin a process of review and reflection. Ask them what their pathway has been in the game and ask for advice.

3. Develop your own personality

We want to develop a future generation of creative and innovative young English players and it’s no different in coaching. Complete your qualifications and learn from others but also don’t forget to add your own personality into your coaching, that’s how you will establish a strong rapport and connection with the players and teams you work with. It will also help you stand out from the crowd.

This article was first published in The Boot Room magazine in August 2013.

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