“There must be a thought behind every kick of the ball.”
- Dennis Bergkamp
Due to its fluid nature, no other team sport allows the individual such freedom to create and make decisions on their own without a coach’s constant input.
Unlike basketball, baseball, and football, the players – not the coaches – have the most direct influence on the result. Player decisions and actions – and the corresponding thoughts and decisions by teammates – are paramount as the number of moving parts and the constant motion of the game serve to limit guidance by the coach.
During traning, therefore, it is a primary responsibility of the youth coach to develop and encourage independent, creative thinkers. A coach must create the requisite environment to foster such players – where they are encouraged to think about the game – and how their decisions affect their teammates and the outcome.
Indeed, rather than authoritatively dictating orders, coaches need to stimulate a player’s thought processes by asking questions to engage them and help them solve specific problems.
In short, coaches need to focus on how to enhance – not stifle – player creativity. The goal of any coach should be to maximize a player’s talents – and the ability to think independent of instruction – to cultivate a player’s capacity to read game situations and act appropriately.
“My great gift was my ability to read the game.”
- Michel Platini
Players must learn to resolve problems on their own and with their teammates. This is important on the soccer field; it is also a valuable life lesson.