Do any of these words apply to your current mindset?
Too _____ to get better:
…Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of taking the easy way out.
Those who want it, find a way. Those who don’t want it, find an excuse.
What is your goal and how do you make sure you are progressing every day?
I stole this article idea from a well known performance coach (Mike Boyle) who wrote about how a large percentage of trainers/coaches get too caught up in so many every day variables that they forget to continue the most important character trait to becoming successful for the long term…to never stop learning.
We all know hard working individuals in their respective field of service.
Coaches who train 35-50 sessions per week. From 5:00am-9:00pm, they are in the gym and on the field making sure that the players and adults, that rely on their programs, are getting what they need and the results they deserve.
Businessmen/women that work 80-100 hour weeks in order to better serve their mission statements and find profits for their investors and still make room for their families and the important things in their life.
Student athletes that juggle Division 1 soccer schedules and unrelenting undergraduate studies, bouncing from practice to travel to study and still able to get it done at a very high standard.
It may seem like these examples and other hard working individuals have a good excuse to not continually work on improving themselves personally, professionally, or spiritually with this type of grinding schedule. I am sure you are in the same boat. However, I can say that I witness a majority of soccer coaches and strength and conditioning coaches that prove they are not willing to put in the time necessary to become better and develop their methods to a higher standard of practice.
Is it possible or Is it a priority?
Never say you don’t have time. Instead admit that it is not a priority.
I don’t remember where I read or heard the saying, but it was powerful to me when I first ran across the words. We always seem to focus on executing the urgent or easy…but forget to develop ourselves for the future. I have made the habit of answering any question that used to be “No, I don’t have time to do that”, with “No, it’s not one of my priorities”. Try it. Its powerful and tends to make you rethink the way you spend performing tasks in your normal days.
How does this relate to soccer?
Performance Unlimited quickly adopted the value of Always continuing to learn and improving our programs and services. We understand that growth is a continuous process and never ending. Our staff is consistently having discussions on how we can progress our training curriculum and how players can potentially improve their game in the shortest amount of time. We have found definitively that it is a mixture between art and science, and there has to be equal parts effort from both coach and player to yield specific results. Our role quickly demands that we effectively understand how to present material for positive change as well as the focus on clearly defining the need for athletes to become accountable for their own progress.
A coach (and club) can never begin to develop any athlete until they are willing to improve themselves. It is our job to make sure that we are giving the best and most clear instruction based on best practices through anecdotal and scientifically valid research. We are always learning and looking to make legitimate changes in the best interest of the individual athlete. Parents rely on coaches and their programs to be experts in their fields, consistently executing “best practices” from the latest trends and research developments across the globe just as you expect your doctors/dentists/and financial advisors to continue to be the best they possibly can. How do you know your coach or club is working towards executing the best program for your player? Do they rely solely on their experience as a player or are they constantly striving to improve their coaching ability? Do they have clearly defined values and principles? Do they communicate how their methods adhere to these principles? Do you ask? It’s your money…shouldn’t you?
I hope we are not alone in this thought process…youth soccer will not move forward if youth clubs do not have the same priority.
How are we working to become better coaches?
One of our most recent trends to enhancing our services is how our coaches deliver curriculum. Research has shown that the difference between a good drill and a great drill is not the drill itself, but the coaches words. The details in the way we communicate is most important. Things such as, Internal vs External cuing as well as Feedback Frequency and content has shown to have the greatest effect for skill interpretation and retention. I am always searching and experimenting with what to say or when and how to say the things that will certainly make the biggest effect for young players. Setting an environment for purposeful practice has shown the biggest success and our staff has found impact from the following tactics.
- Internal Coaching Cues - focused instruction on bodily movements using anatomy or actions of the body.
- External Coaching Cues – focused instruction on the result of the movement. More research showing success with these cues vs internal cueing.
- Intrinsic/Extrensic/Systemic Communication – from the field of sports axiology, understanding these 3 forms of communication and how they relate to the athletes decision making is huge. We inherently have dominance in one or two of these areas and our decision making process. If a coach can view how a player is making decisions and help shape a more effective process, it is a win-win situation.
- Feedback Frequency – giving cues on every rep vs 50% of reps vs 33% of reps. Research shows that the less frequent cueing is more effective for translating to competition. This is only valid after the player has clearly understood the principles for success in the skill being trained. Learn more here.
- Feedback Timing – giving coaching cues during a repetition/game vs cueing players after the rep or between breaks in competitive action. Coaching during the rep and competition has been shown to be less effective.
- Feedback Methods – these are tactics on reducing feedback frequency through learning processes. Such as only giving feedback during the focused technique, giving feedback at the request of the athlete, giving frequent feedback at the beginning of a session and reducing the frequency throughout the practice.
The details to each of these perspectives is vast and can be learned through up to date work in the resources from coaches like Jeremy Boone and Nick Winkleman. Also, the past research of Gabriel Wulf and Robert Hartman have pioneered the field of learning principles and methods. Find the person(s) in your field that are continuing to progress new and exciting views. Follow their blogs, their works, read their books, and practice their methods. Spend 1 hour per day and grow yourself. You will find that all of the methods do not apply to you, but the process of making yourself better will ultimately improve your results.