For 35 years, over a million budding young footballers have been coached in the Coerver method, inspired by the philosophy of legendary Dutch coach Wiel Coerver. Founded by Alf Galustian and Chelsea great Charlie Cooke, Coerver works to develop skilled, confident and creative players who not only work well in a team, but also have the skills to go it alone.
I joined Coerver Coaching nine years ago after a decade in the business world and quickly realized that not only were we training future athletes, but that many of the skills they learned would serve them well off the field of play.
Here are six tips that my coaches use day in and day out to get the best out of their players:
1. Have a plan that’s true to you
As a coach, understand who you are and what you are trying to do. The enthusiasm you bring to your team is key. Ask yourself what’s driving you, what’s at the core of your desire to teach.
2. Understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses
Once your plan is in place, look at the players in your squad. Ask yourself if they have the sufficient skills to play the way you want them to play. Mixed abilities should be seen as an opportunity, not a hindrance. Your coaching plan must contain a program that helps people of all levels to improve.
3. Have patience with younger teams
We coach 8-18-year-olds and recognize the need to provide the time and space young people need to develop. Be adaptable, as things sometimes don’t always go according to plan. Spend time creating a connection.
4. Turn repetition into competition
Try telling a group of 10-year-olds to practice dribbling for 30 minutes. You won’t get many volunteers. Pit Team A against Team B, with the task of five or more touches of the ball before passing and you’ll see focus and the desire to win shine through. Disguise the ‘boring’ tasks with mini competitions to get you to your goal.
5. Find the positives in a loss
Coerver Coaching recognizes that there is value in the performance on the day, but the journey of development is just as important as winning. You might lose but see that your training drills worked well and learn to value those positives as much as a win.
6. Never stop learning
I’ve seen people in football who have won everything as players or coaches who still sit at the front of a class, taking notes and asking questions. To be a strong team leader and top coach you need to have an openness to learning and new ideas. We never stop learning!