What standards do you set for yourself?

Recently, i had the pleasure to spend a few evenings monitoring different training sessions with 3 different club teams. In nearly each training session, Coaches demanded excellence from their players in every facet of the training session and also away from training. “Make sure you eat right”, “Drink plenty of water over the next few days”, “Get out and get 20 minutes of kicking done every night” etc.

As i debriefed with one coach after the training, we started discussing the expectations on players from the coach and subsequently from the club. We quickly came to the conclusion that we held the players to an extremely high standard both on and off the pitch. This got me thinking, do we hold ourselves (the Coach) to the same high standards. Does the club hold up its end of the bargain and demand excellence of itself in providing resources and facilities as needed.

As a coach, do you prepare as diligently when you are on the pitch and off the pitch to be as good as you can be. Do you challenge yourself to be a better coach every week/month /year? Do you set targets for yourself as a coach? At the start of every year, why not sit down with your Management team and discuss how the management group can improve. Can you up-skill every year so that over the course of 4/5 years, you are a much more focused Coach than before. Can you put in place a long term, medium term and short term plans for the team. Can your training be focused holistically so as to improve all facets throughout the year, as opposed to reactionary to the last match.

If the Coach spends as much time off the field planning and learning, as the players are expected to, How much of an improvement in standards will that bring? If the sessions become much more engaging and challenging to the needs of the player, what kind of response will that get from the players. Will that again force the players to up their standards further. Are we then at a stage where the Coach is challenging the Players and in turn the Players are challenging the Coach to be better on a daily basis. What kind of culture will that set within a group.

A few simple tips to challenge yourself to be a better coach:

Short Term

  1. Plan: Spend a bit of time planning what you want to achieve out of the upcoming training session/s e.g. Tackling, Striking, Support Play. Then use Games Based Exercises to develop these facets in the training.
  2. Engage: Talk and Listen to the players as to what they feel is needed to improve. After all, they are the ones inside the white line seeing and feeling whats happening.
  3. Watch: Don’t be afraid to step back in the training session and just observe whats happening. You don’t always need to be in the centre of the group giving instructions. Allow the players be uncomfortable in situations and also allow them to correct their errors.

Long Term

  1. Plan: Have a yearly plan of what you want to achieve with the team. What areas will you focus on at different stages of the year.
  2. Read: Don’t be afraid to read articles, blogs, books, coaching resources from within the GAA and other sports. Broaden your mind to other ideas and see if you can marry these into your philosophy.
  3. Learn: Go to workshops, visit other training sessions, increase your understanding of areas that you may not be strong in e.g. Age Appropriate physical development.

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