COACH Education is a subject very close to my heart, it’s a huge passion of mine, as a coach I never want to stop learning, in fact I have a small black note book I carry everywhere with me, quite a bit of my week seems to be spent in a car, so therefore the book very seldom leaves the car.
I would regularly get an idea or see something in a game or a session that I feel might help improve my own coaching or the quality of the training sessions I deliver and I would scribble it down in the black note book. I really enjoy challenging players at training, I like to take players out of their comfort zone without actually taking them out of their depth, but you need to be brave as a coach to try this and be willing to embrace and encourage new methods or ideas.
I feel I have sounded a bit repetitive over the last few weeks in this column, but I cannot stress enough that this is simply the best time of the year for a coach to learn.
I picked up a couple of little coaching nuggets recently while watching a basketball session, a soccer session and a rugby session from some reasonably high-levels teams in those particular sports, but also from reading some books recently in school.
Even one little idea could possibly ignite three or four from that in your brain because all coaches have a creative brain. However, for me, the greatest resource we continue to have as coaches is certainly each other.
Last week I travelled to the West of Ireland to deliver a pitch based session on a ‘Games Based Approach to training’ and the beauty of the session for the 40-plus coaches in attendance was it had been tailored to suit coaches at all levels of the game, from u-10 right up to adult senior level. It offered coaches a world of ideas to take back to their own training sessions.
The session included approximately ten different games, including some fun games, focused games, transition games and conditioned games relevant to all ages. Some of these games I have actually run at u-12 sessions with the exact same game adapted a little for senior inter county level.
The session included some break ball games, kicking games, scoring games, spatial awareness games, transition games and games to improve conditioning levels so the coaches got a huge volume of ideas and I have to say the young u-16 squad from the club were excellent contributors.
When speaking to the coaches, I told them to imagine the game I was demonstrating as a tree. What grows from trees, only branches, so they should be trying to branch out three or four more games from the actual game they are seeing.
Also a question posed to me quite regularly was, “Stevie could we use that at senior level or could we use that at u-14 level?” The answer is simple, of course we can use any game at any level but you apply the STEP principle. What I mean by that, is the space, time, equipment and players. At underage level if running a scoring exercise, the space might not be 45 yards from goal but maybe 30 yards, the time might not be 90 seconds but maybe 45 seconds, the equipment you might have more balls in play, and players you may use less or more depending on your numbers.
This is a fabulous time of the year folks to upskill yourself or other coaches within your club, loading yourself and others with fresh and innovative ideas during the off-season.
I am really looking forward to our annual Coach Education Day on Saturday, November 18 when the likes of Colm Collins, Mick Bohan, Philip Kerr, Evan Talty all descend upon our school here in St Joseph’s, Newry for the best Coach Education event in Ireland. I am always a great believer that if you attend a coach education session, day or evening, and pick up one small thing which will aid your own coaching it’s been a huge success!