I Played, Therefore I Can Coach

Today's post is from guest blogger, Lawrence Fine.  Fine is the author of four of our weekly email newsletters and a number of top selling coaching books.

I was a good patient and therefore I can be a doctor.

I can drive a car and therefore I can manufacture an automobile.

I like to eat so therefore I am a gourmet chef.

Each of the above statements seems a bit absurd yet many of us hear about a former soccer player getting into coaching and think it's a great thing.

While there are certainly advantages of having played the game when getting into coaching, there is much more to coaching than having been a player. The top coaches make everything seem easy but that is because of all the work put in planning, when no one sees it.

The little coaching education many coaches do go through gets skipped by many of these former players as they “exempt out” of some of the lower courses. The reason these exemptions are granted is the assumption that “they played therefore the know this”. If the only thing being taught to coaches was techniques and tactics that MIGHT be acceptable however, the thing they are missing is the learning of the “teaching” side of coaching. This isn't about the “freeze” method of coaching but rather about the psychological and educational processes that make great coaches great (I'm not implying that by simply going through the lower level courses a coach will master these but it's a start).

One of the best youth coaches I have ever been around never played the sport but he was a highly accomplished school teacher and university researcher who became involved in coaching because his son started to play. He learned soccer by attending courses, reading books, watching DVD's and watching others and was able to apply what he learned based on the many years he spent becoming a top teacher. Contrast this to the former players who might know one part but without the second part (the understanding of the educational process) get by based on their reputation and hope of the parents/players.

While some former players take the time to learn and understand the educational process, too many want to take shortcuts to speed up their way up the coaching ladder. The people these shortcuts are hurting most are the players who aren't learning from these “coaches”.

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