The Paudie Kissane column: Club coaches can learn from each other over the winter break

The Paudie Kissane column: Club coaches can learn from each other over the winter break
Kanturk manager Donagh Duane and selector Padraig Kearns celebrate after winning at Croke Park earlier this year. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr

WE are at the time of the season where many adults are taking a well-earned rest from their coaching duties.

It’s important we look back and reflect on our own coaching performance. The error here is that coaches measure their ability as a coach on only the win-rate of their team.

Yes, naturally enough, if you put in place a successful gameplan and improve your players then you probably will win more games.

Winning is more complex than that, particularly at underage level. It is quite clear the team has improved but just because the team is in a very challenging grade, there is no trophies to show for it at the end of the year.

The number of players on the age and the physical maturity of the group can be factors here also. Through the size factor alone, other teams can just be too good.

You must always prepare your players to do their best and develop that competitive mindset. In conjunction then, you have got to measure how well you have improved your players individually.

There will always be the strong players in the group who understand what the coach wants and quickly adapt to the training challenges.

You have to make sure with the better players, are they better just because of their physical attributes or do they also possess good football ability.

These players have the ability to consistently make good decisions. If the strong players are making training look easy all the time, then you must question the merits of your session plan.

Provided there is a good attitude and players are applying themselves than seeing mistakes in training can be a good thing.

UCC coach Tom Kenny with players Mark O'Brien and Darragh Fitzgibbon. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
UCC coach Tom Kenny with players Mark O'Brien and Darragh Fitzgibbon. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Sometimes, coaches can still fall victim to the theory that training must look error-free all the time. Whether this is through insecurity around who is watching or what the players might think we ruin the opportunity for players to learn and for real coaching to take place.

On the day of the game, the coach can’t make the decisions for the player. We must create sessions to prepare for this.

Player themselves can think like this also. Players can try too hard, lose confidence, and not take risks as they feel they must look good all the time also.

Anyhow, it is the weaker players I am more concerned about. When looking back on 2018, a coach must ask was the time spent on improving players individually.

Players need to play games to improve their decision-making and game-awareness but can training be structured better to ensure individually, and collectively, the team is better in 2019.

The development of your weaker players can be a real indicator of the strength of your coaching program. This development needs to be done through extra small group or individual coaching which can still be included on the main training night.

The key is you need a number of coaches on the same wavelength to ensure this process can be delivered.

Improve your weaker players and, in time, you can see a big improvement in the overall team. Reflecting further on your coaching performance, a coach must be brave to try out new ideas on the training ground.

Similar to the player, you must be willing to take a risk and understand that it might not work out as planned.

The worst thing you can do is to keep doing the same thing, as you will see a plateau in development. Building on this, a coach should have his session plan with them at training.

What this entails is not important right now but rather the fact they should have something to refer back to.

Taking the session plan out of your pocket or folder should not be seen as a weakness and a sign that the coach doesn’t know what he is doing.

Instead, it should be a sign of good planning and attention to detail. Planning is the most important factor in any session plan.

Writing down what you want to achieve tonight in training and how you are going to go about it.

There can be many distractions at training and a coach can be very busy demonstrating, observing and providing feedback.

Having a simple session plan can ensure that extra bit of learning takes place and no time is wasted.

Giving enough time to planning out your session will only improve your coaching ability.

It is important as a coach to continually learn and develop your skills.

Think about areas that you may be weak at and improve them rather than just improving your strengths.

This can be done both individually, but also as a club.

Nemo Rangers selector Billy Morgan earlier this year. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Nemo Rangers selector Billy Morgan earlier this year. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

What type of player are you looking to develop and then seeing have you the skill-set to coach that particular area. To develop the all-round player you need to spend time on all areas of a team’s performance.

This can include defensive play, defending or attacking transitions, forward play, skill development, physical development and a clear understanding of the game-demands.

If there is a weakness in the development process, then put the time in to improve them. This is what the good clubs are doing, led by their coaching officers.

It might not necessarily mean bringing in a mentor from the outside. Rather coaches in the club can learn from each other.

Use the break from coaching wisely and ensure your players of all abilities have the potential to improve further in 2019.

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