Game Based Approach To Coaching

How effective actually are game based sessions in comparison to traditional coaching sessions. This blog will reflect upon the video below, that compares the two styles of coaching and how they differ.


So, upon reflection of the first coach in the video it is clear to see that this coach is very instructive and talks the players through the movements they are doing first. The coach demonstrates a technique for all of the participants to follow, effectively making the participants robots. Schum and National Soccer Coaches of America Staff, (2004) stated “I like to give players the freedom to make decisions” and this is a statement that I totally agree with. The first coach does not have this thought at any point during his session as his focus is to demo the skill and instruct the players on how to do this. This doesn’t give the players any freedom in relation to making their own decisions when taking a shot. In turn this has a negative impact upon the creativity of the participants too. If they are not being allowed to think for themselves then they are not going to develop the creative side to their game either, are they? The only way to do this would be through a game based approach as it resembles a game situation consequently forcing the athletes to think on their feet and use the skill that has been taught using a game based situation in training.

On the contrary the second coach uses a totally different approach which follows the TGFU (Teaching Games For Understanding) theory which Rod Thorpe developed by conducting TGFU workshops around Australia (Webb and Pearson, 2008). This approach uses questioning to stimulate thinking as opposed to telling players what to do (Jones and Kingston, 2013). The coach allows the players to play the game planned however he did not instruct the players on the technique to use when playing a shot, like coach one did. He stood at the side of the court and observed. This enabled the coach to question the players which made them think how they could change what they did, for the better in the future. In SportsCoachUK, (2012)’s handbook of Identifying Excellent Coaching Practice along the Sporting Pathway it was stated that “Athletes agreed that their sessions were fun and never boring and as a result they always looked forward to going to training”. By not executing drill after drill the players will not be bored. As a result this will motivate them to perform in the game based session, where they can use their brain and answer the coaches’ questions. This will develop the players learning and develop them as a whole.


In conclusion I believe that the best way to develop every aspect of a player is through the game based approach. Players often try new things when in a game situation because they have the freedom to do so. If these type of situations from games are brought into training then players will have the confidence to try this week in week out. At the same time players will be having fun because they are playing a game in training, consequently when I coach in the future I will ensure that this approach is used. Not only does it keep players engaged but it significantly benefits their learning too, as seen in the video from coach two’s approach.             



 Jones, R. L. and Kingston, K. (2013) An introduction to sports coaching: Connecting theory to practice. United Kingdom: Taylor and Francis.

Schum, T. and National Soccer Coaches of America Staff (2004) The Soccer Coaching Bible. 1st edn. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.

SportsCoachUK (2012) Identifying Excellent Coaching Practice along the Sporting Pathway. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 16 November 2015).

Webb, P. I. and Pearson, P. J. (2008) An Integrated Approach to Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU). [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 16 November 2015).


Creativity Blimage.

For this week’s blog post I have been given the challenge of creating a blimage. This involves creating a blog post which is based upon an image within a certain context. With this week’s topic being creativity I feel that linking this image into that context would highly beneficial.


The picture above as many of you will know is Lionel Messi who is arguably one of the best footballers on the planet. Messi has great feet and footwork which along with his pace makes him extremely hard to stop when he’s running at you. However at points in his life Messi will have pushed the boundaries and tried new things which made him the player he is today. Without doing this there is no way that he would be as creative as he is now. Majority of players in world football would turn and play the ball backwards in order to retain possession which involves no creative thinking whatsoever. Yes, this does stop the team from losing the ball however if a player does not take risks and push boundaries then what chance have they got of scoring?  Brian Deane stated “I don’t think we will ever produce a player like Messi “ (Buckland, 2013). Therefore this signifies that big changes need to happen if we are to create players who think as quickly as him. If we don’t make changes to the way that players are coached then we will continue to lack creative players within the England set up.

For me creativity is one of the most important aspects of football however it is also one of the hardest skills to develop. As mentioned in a previous blog post England are struggling to create creative players that can produce on the big stage. However it seems to be that every other country has these ‘creative players’ whether it be Spain, Holland, Germany or even Chile. England have young players like Loftus Cheek and Ward Prowse coming through however are they someone who could change a game and beat four or five players. I don’t think so.

So, what is it that we have to do in order to create players that will discover new ways to beat people, week in week out? Personally I believe that using a game related approach to coaching would help players develop their creative side. It will allow players to experiment and express themselves without feeling guilty if they make a mistake. Association, (2004) state that “Game based coaching reverses the usual sequence, but if you try it, you’ll discover some terrific benefits. Instead of learning skills, strategy, and tactics and then playing the game, game based learning allows your players to play the game, learn the strategy, tactics, and skills as they’re playing, and become more complete players as they continue playing”. By coaching this way players can make decisions for themselves because coaches are not constantly giving players instructions. If coaches tell players where to stand and what to do then they won’t learn anything, they are essentially a robot doing what the coach says. Game based coaching allows the players to express themselves and naturally when a situation occurs the coach can step in and work on a technique through the use of a drill. Consequently the coach can work on various aspects of the game by showing them the correct way of performing that skill after it has occurred in the game situation.

To conclude I believe that the picture sums up what we lack in terms of English football.  Obviously something needs to be done if we are to begin creating these Messi like players, who aren’t scared to try and beat four players. It isn’t for me to say whether England are coaching right or wrong however I do believe that managers are often the reason for this. For example David Moyes told Wilfried Zaha to “stop doing tricks” and “keep the ball in certain areas” (SkySports, 2015) which results in players having to change the way they play. In turn this affects creativity and has a negative impact on football in my opinion. As a result coaches/managers may need to rethink how they structure their sessions for the future, with one of those coaches being me.

Reference List

Association, U. S. T. (2004) Coaching tennis successfully. 2nd edn. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.

Buckland, D. (2013) England under-21s drop first qualifying points in two years after draw with Bosnia. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 12 November 2015).

SkySports (2014) Wilfried Zaha tells soccer AM that David Moyes wanted him to ‘stop tricks’. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 15 November 2015).

Developing Creativity.

On reflection from last week’s session, creativity and its development is a something that seriously needs consideration when coaching at grass roots level or any level to that matter. Creativity can be developed in a number of ways however (Dietrich, 2004; Runco, 2007; Sternberg & Lubart, 1995 cited in Memmert 2010, p.4) support the view that creativity can be developed through the gathering of experience over numerous years. Therefore based on this, if we develop creativity when the players are young, we are more likely to produce creative players in the future, no?

However before I go any further it is probably important to understand what creativity is and how it can be defined. Creativity can be defined as “The ability to produce work that is both novel (i.e. original, unexpected) and appropriate (i.e. useful)” (Sternberg, 1998).

It is no breaking news to anyone that England are not creating the creative players that they once used to. For one reason or another England struggle to produce creative players so how is it that we can produce the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez and Neymar. This is the question that I believe every coach has been asking themselves however finding the answer is a completely different story. But what is a creative player for that matter? I believe that a creative player is someone who is not afraid to take a risk and someone who is confident and able to think outside of the box. This way they will try new things that the ‘less creative’ players might be afraid of doing.

Now that we have established what creativity is and what a creative player looks like, it is also important to establish what a player needs, in order to be creative. Therefore I believe that (Ross and Haskins, 2013)’s model which focuses on the ‘S’ system is perfect and describes a creative players needs to a tee. Here is the system below:

  • Skill: To perform the creative though.
  • Spatial Awareness: To understand the space required to perform the skill.
  • Sensing: The ability to see and feel what is going on.
  • Social Awareness: To understand whether the others around need to be involved.
  • Self-Awareness: To understand personality strengths, weaknesses & behaviours.

I completely agree with this model and when you think about it all of these ‘S’s fit into the FA’s four corner model which focuses on the physical, technical, social and psychological development of players. (Ross and Haskins, 2013). As a result the player is developing as a whole as opposed to solely developing their creative side.

Gareth Southgate stated I’m not convinced you actually coach creativity, I think players will do things naturally that are creative. I think you’ve got to try and create the environment for them to do that” (TheFA, 2013). So is it the environment that helps players be creative or is it the coaching that is being applied as mentioned previously. In my personal opinion the best way to see what a player can do is by letting them get on with it in a game situation. By creating small sided games players will have to make decisions for themselves and I believe that this is where creativity can be found. If the environment is comfortable then the players are more likely to try new things without having the fear of making a mistake. By initiating this at a very young age players are more likely to try creative things which can be stored and then used again further into their sports career.

To conclude this brings me back to my first point that creativity can be gathered through experience over numerous years and in all honesty this is how I will go about developing creativity in the future. For me it is all about letting the players try new things which sometimes may work and sometimes may not, however that is all part of the journey into developing creativity.

Reference List

Memmert, D., Baker, J. and Bertsch, C. (2010) ‘Play and practice in the development of sport‐specific creativity in team ball sports’, High Ability Studies, 21(1), pp. 3–18.

Ross, G. and Haskins, D. (2013) Creativity in Football. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 30 October 2015).

Sternberg, R. (1998) Handbook of creativity. Edited by Robert J. Sternberg. 1st edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The FA (2013) Gareth Southgate talked about the FA’s approach to developing creativity. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 30 October 2015).

Development Of The Player.

After participating in sessions over previous weeks I got thinking as to what a successful coach is and what an unsuccessful coach is. Some coaches feel that success is based on the trophies, medals and awards that are won however I am one who firmly believes that success is based on the difference you make as a coach. It shouldn’t be about the trophies you win or the awards you get, it should be about developing the players’ skills so that they can become the best they can be. Balyi, (2001) supports my thoughts and states that “The critical, fundamental phase is often overlooked by coaches, teachers and parents, who focus on competition and winning rather than the acquisition of basic skills and fitness”. As a result coaches should focus on the skill development of their players rather than the trophies on offer, these will come in time.

For example if we take the reflective coaching practical session from last week we were given the task of creating small 10/15 minute sessions that work on the topic specified on the sheet. In total there were 5 stations set in various places around the sports hall with each station having a different topic to focus on for their session. The cards included topics such as Court Skills, Invasion Skills, Agility, Balance & Coordination, Target Skills as well as Racket skills too. For me thinking of a session on the spot (by myself) is something I sometimes find rather difficult, therefore it was a challenging task that I believe developed me as a coach and helped me work on my creativity. However because we as coaches were working in small groups, ideas bounced around and in my opinion we created some good quality sessions that focused on the topics specified.

However even though we felt that we created high quality, challenging drills that followed the briefings sometimes others did not. For example: We created a throwing and catching drill using a variety of balls that worked on agility, balance and coordination all at the same time. We believed that this met the topic criteria however like other groups Cliff did not. Consequently we were given advice on how to change the session so that it solely focused on the A, B, C’s.  Cliff explained that the drill was too complicated and that there was in fact no need for any equipment. This made me realise how important the fundamentals are in children’s coaching and how simply they can be worked on.

As shown in this fundamentals continuum the basic movement skills form the base therefore without these a player cannot really develop as well as they could do.

Fundamentals Continuum

(SportsCoachUK, no date)

Therefore to conclude I believe that a successful coach is one who can strip skills right back down to basics so that the players can develop their A, B, C’s right from the beginning. This will then allow them to create and modify their own skills which can be used in the sports which they are involved in. A coach is not just there to set some cones out and have a chat to the parents, they are there to develop the player’s skills and if they can do this then I perceive them to be a successful coach whether they win trophies or not.

Reference List

Balyi, I. (2001) ‘Sport system building and long-term athlete development in British Columbia’. Canada: Sportsmed BC.

SportsCoachUK (no date) Coaching for FUNdamentals. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 18 October 2015).

U8/9’s Coaching Session at UCLan Sports Arena – 3rd October 2015

This week I thought that I would spend time evaluating the session that I helped to deliver to the U8/9’s. The club that I volunteer at, at the moment is The Sir Tom Finney Soccer Centre who offer football for almost anyone to be perfectly honest. I give up my time on a Saturday morning to help offer football for players who want to play. By doing this participants have fun doing something they enjoy while improving as a player at the same time.

Again, like the disability session that I was involved in on the Friday It was something new again therefore I didn’t exactly know what to expect which retrospectively made me quite nervous. In addition to this U8’9’s aren’t usually the age group that I tend to coach/assist with consequently it was a skill development session that would improve me as a coach. Anyway, a friend of mine was the head coach for the U8/9’s this week therefore as it was my first week I decided to help him out with the delivery and organisation of the session. In my own personal opinion I believe that the session that was delivered by the coach was big success as the players enjoyed it and improved their skills which was clear to see in some of the drills/matches towards the end of the session.

One problem that did face us from the very start was that we didn’t feel that the warm up would be suitable anymore for one reason or another. After discussing with the head coach we felt that a new warm up was needed and one thing that surprised me was the head coaches’ ability to think on his feet and come up with a new drill that was not only fun but worthwhile too. I believe that the reason for this is because he has had more experience than me so has a wider range of knowledge when it comes to drills and exercises. As a result I am going to research various drills and watch more coaching videos to further improve my coaching knowledge. When doing this I am going to keep a detailed file of drills that work on various aspects of the game. This way I will have an up to date record of sessions that can be tweaked and used for the future.

Another aspect I feel is very important when coaching young players is positive feedback and motivation for the players. This is essential when trying to keep the players engaged within the session, as not only does it make your job as a coach easier but it also increases the participants’ self-esteem. Rosenzweig (2012) states that Overall, pos­i­tive feed­back will get you results– faster! Rein­force the behaviour you want to increase: that is how you get results”. This sums up the effect of positive feedback and discusses how important it actually is in getting the results you want from your participants. From the session that I assisted in, I believe that the players did benefit from the feedback that I was giving as it made them think and change the way that they acted next time they were in a similar situation. Also by using small keywords it motivated them to try their hardest to engage in the drill and get the best out of it, which in my eyes is a big success.

To conclude the blog post for this week I feel that the session that was delivered was an achievement, due to the fact that the kids not only enjoyed what they were doing but they also learnt a lot from it too. From watching the head coach I discovered that junior coaching is a lot about the way you speak to the participants. For example if you overload them with information then it will not be received and go in one ear and out the other. I have coached various ages before but not really U8/9’s in all honesty. Consequently as a coach I must try to explain things in as little detail as possible so that they take it in without getting confused. In my opinion the best way to do this is by incorporating demonstrations so that the kids know exactly how things run and what their role is. Therefore next week when I am coaching I will ensure that all of the factors I have talked about are included in my session. When coaching this model sums up the basics that need to be followed for the participants to improve themselves and the skills they have:

Coaching Process (2)

(FA, 2014)

Reference List

FA (2014) Coaching Disabled Footballers Manual. Available at: (Accessed: 4 October 2015).

Rosenzweig, P. (2012) The Power of Positive Feedback: Lessons From The Olympics. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2015).

Disability Football Coaching : Playfootball – 2nd October 2015

For me disability football is something that is very new to me and something that I wouldn’t really see myself being able to getting involved in. However due to the fact that I coach at Sir Tom Finney FC, I was able to get involved with disability football which would help to develop me as a coach. In addition to this I wasn’t too sure where to go or who to meet once I arrived at the session, so right from the start I felt a bit out of my comfort zone.

Once I had been introduced the first thing that struck me was how welcoming everyone at the session was. Everyone that I spoke too welcomed me with open arms to the session, this included the coaches, participants, parents and finally the formal figures at the club. Every one of the players that were taking part came and spoke to me before the session. Another thing that I noticed was that the participants were always willing to make conversation so that I could get to know them, which was something that doesn’t really happen as much in able bodied coaching. This allowed me to get to know the players which is a very important aspect when coaching in my opinion.

As it was my first week attending the disability coaching session I did not actually coach because I wanted to get a feel of what it was all about and how the whole thing ran. I observed a coaching session along with another new coach so that we could see what the kind of things they work on, actually are. From observing the group I discovered that there were a wide range of abilities within the group, because the sessions that were offered were on a pay as you play basis. Therefore anyone could turn up whether they had a team or not which is something that the participants value highly. In fact one of the player stated that “the session is like money to me”. This really did show me how much the sessions being run actually mean to the players.  I was also utterly amazed at some of the players and the ability which they had. In all honesty if some of these players were playing alongside able bodied players they would fit in with ease and in fact show some of them up. Due to the fact that the players were putting all their effort in one player got seriously hurt and banged his head on the wall causing him to go down. In all honesty something like this has never happened before when coaching, participating or even observing. I was shocked at first and didn’t really know what to do as I was observing and not actually running the session. I did go the other coaches and tell them that a player was seriously hurt, however before i even had chance one of the coaches was over there in a flash to assess the situation and this really did act as a prime example for the future when I am coaching. As a result of this I learnt that whatever the injury is, the game must be stopped so that the player can be assessed and action can be taken as soon as possible.

As a final point one thing that I had to be wary of was the way in which I spoke to the players and this was something that I was quite conscious about throughout the whole session. I was then told that a coach had been hit once before which didn’t really help settle my nerves. As stated by FA, (2014) “Too much information can lead to boredom and even frustration and this may be particularly true if there are challenges to communication – for example those with a learning disability, speech or hearing impairment”. This quote from the football associations coaching disabled footballers manual briefly explains how to communicate with disabled footballers. The manual goes on to explain how to communicate with visually impaired players as well as hearing impaired as well as other disabilities within football. I will therefore keep this in mind when I next coach a disability session. I need to ensure that I use the correct language as well as the correct mannerisms so that the players listen and learn new skills.

Overall I believe that the session that I observed was a success as the players knew what they were working on by the end of the session and used this when they participated in the match at the end of the session. However the only issue was that one of the drills didn’t really seem to fit in with the theme of possession and more on reactions in my personal opinion.  I believe that there should only be one aspect being worked on in a session because it allows the players to improve this skill before they move onto something new.

Reference List

FA (2014) Coaching Disabled Footballers Manual. Available at: (Accessed 4th October 2015).

Strengths & Weaknesses As A Coach.

What are my coaching strengths/weaknesses and why?

For me I believe that my greatest strength when coaching is my ability to be planned and organised before and during the session. I always ensure I have a written plan when needed so that I can follow it and ensure that I know what I am doing. When creating a plan I make sure that it is accurate enough so that anyone can use it and deliver the session even if they have had no coaching experience. By keeping the plans that I have written it means I can re-use sessions that I have done before with other groups if needed, therefore saving me time when planning. As stated by The Corporate Executive Board Company (2006) coaching plans Create a foundation for consistent coaching efforts across the development cycle, and they ensure that the manager’s coaching activities are supporting their employees’ development goals. To that end, the coaching plan outlines the responsibilities of both the employee and the manager”. Even though this is not a sport specific quote it shows how important a coaching plan is as it allows goals to be viewed and worked towards. Therefore if this were in a sports context improving the athlete’s skills would be the end goal.

Another strength I believe I have when coaching is my ability to give out instructions quite clearly in a manner that can be understood by everyone. By doing this all the participants can get on with the activity without having to ask questions regarding the activity that they are partaking in. This is particularly important when coaching various age groups because the way you speak to a group/individual can affect the way that they perform or complete a certain drill. I feel that the quote by Burton (2011) sums this up perfectly by stating that “As a coach, the way you speak can affect the results you get”. This just shows the important you’re voice and the way you use it is, when coaching.

I believe that my main weakness is my ability to motivate players when they are joining in the drill. Most of the time I don’t really praise the individuals for doing something well. I say small bits here and there such as ‘well done’ or ‘great pass’ but more bits of praise can have a big impact on an individual. It can improve their confidence which could result in the players improving significantly too. In addition to this I think that another weakness of mine is my ability to create a new drill on the spot if the circumstances within the team changed. For example: If I had planned for 12 players and only 7 turned up then in would have to rethink the drill or use a new one and this is something that I struggle with when I’m put on the spot! However I feel that the more and more coaching sessions I do, the more sessions I will remember in my head and be able to make use of.

What do I believe my main aims/objectives are for the module?

Another question that is majorly important is what my aims and objectives are for this module. Therefore Over the year my main aim is to improve all aspects of my coaching in one way or another. Even though I have stated my strengths and weaknesses of coaching I believe that every aspect can be improved in some way. The areas that I will try to target most are things such as my confidence, motivation and creativity. The more coaching I do in and outside of university will allow me to work on these skills which will more than likely improve them. As a result of this hopefully I will become a better coach who is much more adaptable. Due to the fact that this module is reflective based I can analyse my own performance based on my opinions as well as others too.

How will I achieve/work towards them during the module?

When coaching I will try to target the areas specifically so that they are tested more than other areas. I will write down in the plan what aspects I will try and work on that week. For example if I was working on motivation I would try to motivate the players more than I usually would even if I felt uncomfortable, as it would be developing my skills. I will push myself as it is the best way to improve in my opinion. In addition to this I will gain feedback of peers and lecturers about what they feel I did well and not so well. Therefore this would allow me to set targets/goals for the following week to try and achieve.

What am I looking forward to on the module (or perhaps not)?

The main thing that I am looking forward to is keeping a blog on my coaching experiences and development as it is something new to me. It will allow me to see how much I have learnt over the year and the ways I went about learning new skills. Conversely the thing I am most dreading is that it is up to me to complete the task on a weekly basis. Even though I see myself as an organised individual, remembering to reflect on my coaching experiences every week could prove to be tough, especially with the distractions of living in a house with four other lads.

Reference List

Burton, K. (2011) Coaching with NLP For Dummies. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.

The Corporate Executive Board Company (2006). Coaching Takes Planning. Available at: (Accessed 28th September 2015)

The Importance of Reflection.

Reflection can be described in many different ways and often is by a variety of people, however Nguyen et al (2014) states that “authors perceive the act of reflection as one of ‘questioning’, ‘thinking’, ‘examining’, ‘scrutinizing’, ‘mental processing’ or ‘analysis’, all of which are cognitive activities”. Therefore reflection actually involves a range of different activities that all come together to form the reflection process. When this is then linked into a sporting context it becomes crucial to the learning process that a sports coach travels on. It is vital that a coach reflects on the coaching sessions that they have delivered in order to discover their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement, as this can play a huge part in their own development.

When coaching reflection is something that I must ensure I do as it enables me to ask questions and better myself further. Questions asked could be: ‘Why are my actions causing this?’ and ‘What is different here?’ and this is backed up by Fowler (2015) in his journal article called “Reflection. Part 1:the importance of reflection. He then goes on to discuss how much of a valuable tool it is and this couldn’t be more truthful than when coaching. Without reflection coaches would struggle to improve and make themselves the coach that they are today.

Reference List:

Fowler, J. (2015) ‘Reflection. Part 1: the importance of reflection’, Dental Nursing, 11(3), pp. 168–170.

Nguyen, Q. D., Fernandez, N., Karsenti, T. and Charlin, B. (2014) ‘What is reflection? A conceptual analysis of major definitions and a proposal of a five-component model’, Medical Education, 48(12), pp. 1176–1189