Steven Poacher

Steven Poacher – Four key points for a great training session

MANY people who are not involved in teaching don’t appreciate the stress and strains that the profession can bring, even more so in our current climate. Let me assure you though, teaching is a wonderful profession, particularly being a PE teacher where every day brings a different challenge.

All teachers are good teachers but one of the best teachers of all time, and an inspiration of mine, was a gentleman by the name of John Wooden. John Wooden was one of the greatest coaches of all time and, indeed, in 2009 was named by an American newspaper as the ‘Greatest Coach of all Time.’

Wooden believed that the two greatest traits you could have as a coach were enthusiasm and being industrious.

He was also a huge believer in thorough planning and preparation, leaving nothing to chance and insisting anything in your control should never fail you.

Wooden also had some coaching methods he stuck to such as strong discipline, patience, praise and individual and 1v1 coaching. He placed a huge emphasis on teamwork and unselfishness.

These past few weeks being back in school triggered my thoughts about Wooden and his beliefs on coaching and teaching. While doing some planning and preparation this week, it got me thinking. A good coaching session basically follows the same principles as a good PE lesson, so when planning a coaching session, the following principles should apply:

– Good, clear learning intentions where players know exactly what they’re doing and what the coach is looking the players to get out of the session. Basically an objective or a goal for the session.

– An activity related Dynamic warm-up which is led by the players themselves to create an environment which encourages players to take individual and collective responsibility and ownership.

– The main content or body of the session should have progression, it should be challenging, relevant, it should have a good consistent pace to it. It should be structured, well organised, and have opportunities for regular feedback. The coach should employ a range of coaching strategies within it.

– A cool down with effective feedback which will include the success criteria of the session, basically did we achieve our learning intentions/objectives/goals throughout the session.

In my opinion, our schools are the bedrock for the development of our young footballers but unfortunately in the current climate of Covid, it has been put slightly on hold for a few weeks.

It’s such a vitally important cog in many young people’s lives, the GAA. The GAA is the hub of activity in most communities and schools, without it school life would be long and lonely. Do pause to remember that children and young people have many talents which may be hidden in the classroom.

Finally, while digesting one of Wooden’s books over lockdown, I came across a great piece where Wooden recalls a great story from a number of years ago when an anthropologist was studying a rare tribe of people in one of the islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

The anthropologist met the tribe’s healer and asked him to introduce him to the most important man on the island. As they weaved through the jungle, the anthropologist felt he was on his way to meet their king but as it turned out, he was met by an elderly grey haired man who was surrounded by children.

When he asked the tribe’s healer was that the King, he said ‘no, you asked to meet the most important man on the island, that is our teacher.’

Never underestimate the impact that a good teacher can have on the growth and development of your young footballers. Strive to build stronger school-clubs link with all your local schools.

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