Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

What is Coaching Really About?

Should a coach be an expert or a teacher? Or both?andrew_griffiths.jpg

I was surprised to read recently that up until the 1970s most people’s understanding of the role of a coach was as an expert.

The coach instructed his or her players from a position of superior knowledge, or put more simply, perhaps they just knew more about the particular game than the people they were instructing.

That was all fine. The drawback with this approach however is that development is restricted by the limits of the coach’s knowledge.

So the absence of certain expertise in the coach could actually hold back players, who were reliant on their coach as their single, trusted source of skills and advice.

Once this was realised, a school of thought emerged that for coaching to be effective and achieve measurable improved performance the coach need NOT be an expert, although, of course, it helps.

However to be successful, they must:

1) Believe in the potential of the coachee to achieve superior performance.
2) Have credibility in the eyes of the coachee in order to build the relationship.

So it turned out that the coach doesn’t need to be an expert, but should be at least skilled in the process of coaching to make progress.

I’m indebted for this insight to Roger Jones, a coach at AFC Holmer Green, based at The Misbourne School in Great Missenden, England, who sent me the fruits of some of his research into the origins of coaching.

Roger referred me to the following rather neat definition of coaching from the Defence Leadership Centre, part of the British government’s Ministry of Defence, which I think sums up the true nature of the concept.

“Coaching is the art of releasing the potential in another in order to improve performance”

I’m conscious that I’ve managed to take up a whole entry on Soccer Coaching Blog without (until now) mentioning the word soccer, and some of you may be wondering how relevant these thoughts are to you.

I think they are, but what do you think?

I’d be grateful if you’d let me know. Are you an expert at soccer or an expert at coaching? And does it matter?

I look forward to your feedback and will return to this subject in a later post.

Andrew Griffiths
Managing Director, Better Soccer Coaching


1 Comment so far
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The problem with modern football is people watch everything sky has to offer and then everyone thinks they are an expert.
The trouble with watching TV is the cameras follow the ball so you miss off the ball runs or certain positions players take up away from the action. There is also what i call the John Motson syndrome – no disrespect to Motty (a legend) but just because you can name what colour socks Bristol City wore in 1902 does that mean you could pick a team to compete in a match, or develop youngsters to enjoy the game and reach a decent standard.
The other big one is good footballers – who wouldnt have bet their bottom dollar Bryan Robson would have been a great manager with his experience and attitude yet its never materialised – i wonder how many people had pictures of Arsene Wenger on their bedroom walls in the 70’s or early 80’s not many yet he is pretty much as good as it gets as a manager.
So in my opinion if you have a knowledge across the range of the game and not just a) good player b) a knowledge of footballs history, roots and culture or c) watch a lot of matches then that will create a better coach
Personality it huge too, who really listens to people they dont like with a bad attitude however good they are??
Dont even bother if your unorganised either because people will see straight through it and will ruin anything good you do teach.

Comment by swift1

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