The Paudie Kissane column: To get the best out of players you need more than just fancy drills

The Paudie Kissane column: To get the best out of players you need more than just fancy drills
Limerick selector Paul Kinnerk and manager John Kiely. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

AS we near the winter, the dream is only alive for a lucky few teams.

St Finbarr’s, while needing to be more consistent, will be delighted to be back in another county final. Castlehaven and Duhallow will have mixed emotions, as they head for their replay this Sunday evening.

Duhallow let slip a seven-point lead, but if players can get the mindset right, the last game can stand to them greatly.

The difficulty for Duhallow is that Castlehaven may believe that this year actually could be theirs. You can’t dismiss momentum, nor the belief that the Haven have gained over the last number of weeks. Their performances signal a real hunger.

It’s easy to look sharp when things are going well, but the real challenge is having that same desire when the game looks lost. Castlehaven have made great comebacks, versus CIT and Duhallow, to force a replay.

Duhallow selector Frank Flannery after the drawn game against Castlehaven. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Duhallow selector Frank Flannery after the drawn game against Castlehaven. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The challenge for the managers is ensuring their teams have the right mindsets heading into the replay. That’s easier said than done, as some players can be preoccupied with what happened in the first game and forget to move forward.

Many other managers or coaches around the county will be deciding how they can move their team forward for 2019.

There are still league play-offs to be completed, so some teams, even though out of the championship, will train with the aim of finishing the year with silverware. Winning a league can create momentum and belief for the following year.

Other teams will feel they are lacking in strength, size, or power or are prone to injuries. Consequently, a greater commitment will be made to improving strength and conditioning over the winter.

Finally, some coaches will either move on, as they feel they can’t take the team any further, or it’s decided by the club that a new voice is needed.

When selecting a new coach, what are the criteria? What work are clubs doing to ensure their coaches are of the highest standard?

Germany has had a reputation for producing some of the best young coaches in world football over the last decade. This doesn’t happen by chance. A UEFA Pro Licence is needed to coach at the highest level in European countries.

This led to UEFA setting up 45 Pro Licence schools or academies across the continent. Germany went one step further and set up its own school, known as the Academie.

It still had to satisfy guidelines, but the depth of education is much greater. The Pro Licence involves 240 educational hours, while the Acadamie involves 815 hours, in a combination of theory and practice.

Experts in fitness, psychology, coaching, and management educate the Academie coaches. Aspiring coaches are then assessed through interview, written exam, and practical assessment.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola gestures on the touchline. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola gestures on the touchline. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

That is a professional scenario, but, in principle, could GAA clubs or counties be doing more to educate their coaches? The GAA has their education pathway in place, which helps guide the coach. Could clubs take things a step further and help coaches maximise their potential?

Good coaches are needed at all levels and it’s the teaching that is crucial. This doesn’t necessarily mean what a coach is saying on the training ground. First, it’s deciding the outcome of the session, which may need to be improved. For example, it could be creating a quicker transition from defence to attack. So, we have identified the problem, but now the challenge is how to use rules, game design, or, through questioning, to guide players to do what you want them to do.

Coaching education has improved, but there still is too much of a culture of telling players what to do when they are in possession. The best players are the best decision-makers. Players choose the right solution, depending on their ability, plus the positioning of themselves relative to their teammates and opponents. This dynamic is changing constantly in a game. That’s why we don’t get that transfer from some drills to the game.

A player may decide to kick-pass or hand-pass. Other times, the best option could be to take your steps and solo the ball. All options may contribute to a quick transition, but it’s the player who is making the decision.

Coaching isn’t just about having plenty of equipment, an organised session, and creating loads of noise. As coaches, we have to think about what we are trying to develop in our players.

Drills have their place in player development, but games and scenarios should make up the majority of your session. Good drills cannot be the criteria for good coaching.

This year, learning through games was a major factor in the All Ireland success of both the Limerick hurlers (through Paul Kinnerk’s guidance) and the Dublin footballers (through the work of Jim Gavin’s coaching team).

Developing this skill-set can take time, but the first step is education and getting the coach right.

CONTACT: @paudiekissane www.pkperformance.ie

St Finbarr's Ray Keane leaps into the air in front of selector Paudie O'Shea after defeating Carbery Rangers. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Finbarr's Ray Keane leaps into the air in front of selector Paudie O'Shea after defeating Carbery Rangers. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

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