Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

How to GROW as a soccer coach

As I’m sure you are aware, a soccer coach does more than just coach. He’s a manager, a taxi driver, motivator, nursemaid,andrew_griffiths.jpg father figure…I could go on. Oh, and he or she knows a bit about the game.

It’s quite a responsibility. But there’s more.

Coaching is probably the most powerful tool available for personal development. As a soccer coach you are perhaps the strongest influence on the future careers of the players you look after today. At whatever level they play throughout their life, and for how long, their enjoyment of the game is going to be determined to a large extent by their experiences with you as a leader and mentor.

In my last post I outlined some definitions of coaching from the Defence Leadership Centre passed on to me by Roger Jones, a coach at AFC Holmer Green, based at The Misbourne School in Great Missenden, England. Today I’d like to go a step further and explore a coaching technique used by the centre and in other organisations.

The technique gets players to learn for themselves, and is called the GROW model. The coach helps the player to think through the following steps: G = Goal, R = Reality, O = Options, and W = Wrapping Up.

I’ll explain what these mean.

Goal. The player decides what the goal of the coaching session will be. For example, a soccer player might express a desire to get into space more often.

Reality. The player explores reality from different perspectives to raise their awareness of the issue in hand. For example, the player might ask himself why he doesn’t already get into space and what’s stopping him. He might ask how others get into space or watch professionals in action to gain further insight.

Options. These are considered by the player and coach together along with the feasibility of meeting the goal. For example, the player might consider always making a run as a fellow player receives the ball, or always looking around for space as a pass is made by a fellow player. The player has to see the possibility of one of the options helping him or her towards the goal.

Wrapping-Up. The player decides or commits to taking an action. For example the player commits to always making a run when a team mate receives the ball.

The approach only works if first, the coach manages to remove interference (noise and interruptions) as well as self-generated distractions, and second, the player himself chooses to do something differently.

Here’s the upside.

By allowing the player to set the agenda, he or she has ownership of the issue and retains the motivation to solve the problem. In other words, the player becomes the driver for the change and the improvement.

The coach has raised the awareness of the issue by the player and helped to improve both learning and performance at the same time. And to some extent, both the coach and the player have “grown.”

Andrew Griffiths, Managing Director, Better Soccer Coaching


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