Steven Poacher

STEVEN POACHER: Teachers are heroes for clubs

MANY people not involved in teaching don’t appreciate the stress and strains the profession can bring and even more so in our currently climate with the added impact of Covid.

But let me assure you, 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 ever and indeed in 2009 was named by an American newspaper “Greatest Coach of All Time.”

Wooden believed the two greatest traits you could have as a coach was enthusiasm and being industrious (hard working). 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 too such as; strong discipline, patience, praise, individual and 1v1 coaching and a huge emphasis on teamwork and unselfishness.

These past few months in school triggered my thoughts about Wooden and his beliefs on coaching and teaching.

While doing some planning and preparation this week for both lessons and after school training, 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 their 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.

– Main content or body of the session should have progression, it should be challenging, relevant, should have a good consistent pace to it, be structured, well organised, opportunities for regular feedback and 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 intentionsobjectivesgoals throughout the session.

In my opinion, our schools are the bedrock for the development in our young footballers and even more so throughout this pandemic: 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 children and young people have many talents which are hidden in the classroom.

Finally, while digesting one of Wooden’s books over the summer 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 a good teacher can have on the growth and development of your young footballer. Strive to build stronger school–clubs link with all your local schools!

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