The best players are the best problem solvers.
This is a statement many coaches say (or they say something similar) and is so true but the question is, if we as coaches think the best players are the best problem solvers, why do we keep trying to give the players the answers?
Coaches tell their players exactly what to do during games (‘pass left”, “shoot”, “clear”,”find Jimmy”) and in training love to use the “freeze” method (everyone “freeze” and then walk through the right decision) when in reality, given the opportunity and patience many of the players are capable of making the right decision (after learning by making the wrong decisions).
When we teach math, we teach the process (except for memorizing the times table as a little kid). In science it’s about the methodology of how to get to the solution and not just the solution.
We like to say it’s about the journey and not just the destination but in coaching too many try to take shortcuts for their players by telling them how to get to the “destination”
If we want to encourage problem solvers, we need to teach the process and then get out of the way and let them fail. Then help them back up, let them fail again and only when it seems they are truly going in the wrong direction and aren’t going to “correct course” should we step in and redirect them in the right direction.
Might this result in a few more losses short term while the players fail? Of course. Will in result in better outcomes, better players and better success in the long run? Without a doubt! The problem is, when working with youth, coaches tend to not have the patience needed to allow the players develop as problem solvers. This might be because of self imposed pressure, club pressure, school pressure, parent pressure or any number of other possibilities but until we can encourage the players to be problem solvers, we will continue to stifle their growth.