A coach’s success is often determined by his or her ability to "peak" each player’s interest at training and motivate them to want to learn. Each of us has a unique way of connecting and relating to our players, but, "how" we do so, is less important than the actual "doing". The fact that we establish a relationship with each individual player that will encourage a passion for the sport is one of our main responsibilities as a coach. This "connecting" or "relating" can be done both on and off the field and can have an impact on a players motivation, engagement, and improvement.
It's important to remember how impactful coaches can be simply due to a player's view of us as coaches. Players, sometimes, will perceive us as the soccer expert and as such, they naturally seek our feedback and approval. As an example and not to oversimplify, but take the activity of players to dribble randomly in a grid and you ask them to perform a particular dribbling skill. Without fail players will ask if they are performing correctly or asked to be watched. Whether it is on the field or off, players want our feedback and attention. They want our opinion on how they are performing so they can improve, our feedback can help them progress technically, and if delivered properly, our feedback can also have an impact on their motivation and passion for the activity. When we help players recognize strengths it gives them the confidence to use these abilities and to possibly have success in the game. In other words, if they know what they do well, they can do it more often for the good of themselves and the team. Concurrently, identifying areas of weakness allow players to work on the less developed areas while succeeding by utilizing their strengths. So, it's important to remember that through feedback, players can and should improve. As players improve, they become more motivated. When players are motivated, they are more engaged. All of this can lead to a better experience for the player.
Making the time to have conversations with players promotes growth and it shows that we as coaches find it important to spend time with the "person". Discussion alone, regarding different ways a player can improve, or the players training habits, or their behavior can stimulate improvement, motivation, and engagement. They will feel more a part of the process because interest has been shown in them. Additionally, by sitting down and having a constructive yet positive conversation can help the player develop personally.
So coaches, where are we going with this you ask? It is that time of year again, the time we MUST offer feedback. Ideally, you have shared feedback all throughout the season and a player, if asked, could speak of their strengths and weaknesses. The evaluation is necessary, so please, take the time to reach out to each individual on your team. Give feedback. Motivate. Help them Improve. Help them find the best experience possible by "engaging" them in their development process.
If you have any questions regarding player assessment, age appropriateness, format, etc., please connect with me, I'm always here to help. As always, you can find a copy of the SLSG Evaluation Sheet on the Director's Notes Web Page.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!