Should you hand over control to the kids?


Control is defined as “the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events”. In a coaching context, it is not uncommon to see Coaches “direct behaviour” as opposed to “influence behaviour”. Leaders influence, managers direct. Which one are you?

In today’s environment, we see kids playing hours and hours of computer games. They do this because this is probably the only place they are their own person. They can make their own decisions and face the consequences of those decisions. What they decide to do is 100% up to them. They have the freedom to execute their own thoughts and live with the consequences. Should this not enable our Coaching to adapt a bit to cater for these needs?

As Coaches, we are tasked with developing kids’ abilities as players and people for the little time we have with them every week. We set limits on their ability by the constraints we administer in each training session. If we practice Drill Based exercises for the full session, will they be challenged to evolve their game in any capacity? If we focus on isolated skill development, will this limit their potential as a player and hinder any possible development? Do we need to be 100% in control of what happens in every training session, or can we allow the kids to take control? Or, can we set the environment, set the tasks and then let them at it? When a child faces a problem, can he/she overcome it or find ways to get around it? When do we as coaches’ step in and offer advice to the kids?

As coaches, we sometimes try to take too much control of the outcomes and how they are achieved. We want to maintain control of proceedings, be seen to be in control. Parents and Club officials like when things “look” organised. What if I told you that giving up a bit of control and allowing players to take more control, will lead to more engaged and better players? You set the tasks, then allow the creativity and imagination of the players take over. You don’t need to control every situation, but you can create situations and scenarios by the content you provide. Set the task, then watch the players complete the task. They may fail, but they will get the opportunity to learn. Will you have to step in to assist from time to time? Yes, you will, but you must choose when and why.

Hurling and Football are complex games to coach due to the multitude of scenarios that could potentially arise in a match, it is nearly impossible to plan accordingly for every event. But on the other side of it, it is a simple concept. Get the ball and score. When the other team has the ball, get it back from them as soon as possible and try to score. How much of our training is geared towards getting possession from the opponents and trying to score from the resulting possession? Do we fixate with too much “other skills” that are not being portrayed in a way that benefits Game Play? Rather than being in control of isolated skill development drills, are you willing to let the kids take control of games? As a coach, you need to be in control of the situations you are creating, but you don’t need to be in control of the solutions. 3+2=5, but 4+1=5 also. There is not only one solution for scenarios, allow the children create their own solutions.

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