- Coaching points are made in a number of ways to convey information to your players
- Learning outcomes aren't always shared with the players, but are end products that you're working towards in your session
- Coaching points can be tailored to help players meet their learning outcomes
Various Means of Coaching Your Players
Coaches have a number of means in their coaching toolbox in order to get their point across and convey a message to their players. Whether it's the popular freeze method, individual coaching, coaching in the flow or a good old fashioned lecture - coaches can communicate and make their point in any number of ways.
While there are a good number of coaching points you can make on any given subject, it should be tailored to the ability of the group - based on what you know of their ability, and what you see within the session itself. Ultimately, you should be coaching with a view to your players reaching a learning outcome.
The Difference Between Coaching Points and Learning Outcomes
For me, learning outcomes are a much broader canvas and can be as generic as 'score on the counter attack' to more specific 'beat the full back in wide areas to deliver a cross'. The learning outcome is what you want the players to have figured out by the end of practice or a series of practices and this can then be broken down and achieved in a number of ways:
- Coaching points come in to play here - they can be used to further break down the learning outcome into smaller components to help them achieve the bigger goal. E.g. plant your foot next to the ball when striking the ball is a coaching point that leads to the eventual learning outcome of 'quality of technique when striking the ball'
- The session structure and environment can also be manipulated to meet a learning outcome. E.g. Making the field big and limiting the number of players on the field to encourage players to 'dribble and take players on 1 v. 1'
How Coaching Points Can Build in to your Learning Outcomes
Some learning outcomes are easier to achieve than others. For example, if I was doing a session on stop starts I might have these two learning outcomes:
- The quality of the move (swivel hips)
- The timing of the move (when and where I want the player to perform the move)
If, by the end of the session, the player can perform the move with quality and knows how to time the move (when and where to use it) then I've met my learning outcome for the session.
In example 1, my coaching points might be; open hips as if I'm about to play the ball, move the ball across the body using the inside of the foot, take the ball past the opponent with the inside of the opposite foot. As a result, the coaching points directly relate and build into the learning outcome of 'The quality of the move' (swivel hips).
In example 2, my coaching points might talk about scenarios.
- Scenario 1: The defender is behind me, therefore I accelerate.
- Scenario 2: The defender gets ahead of me, therefore I turn and go the other way.
- Scenario 3: The defender is alongside me, therefore I perform the stop start in order to fool them and create space between us.
While three separate coaching points, they serve the purpose of teaching the player 'the timing of the move' (when and where I want the player to perform the move).
When planning a session, learning outcomes should be the very end product that you want to achieve that the coaching points build up to and feed into. On reflection, coaches can ask a number of questions to evaluate how the session went:
- How easily did the players achieve their learning outcome?
- Did they fail?
- Were the players appropriately challenged?
These questions should give you a good idea of whether the session needs to be repeated, if you can move on or if there is room for improvement if you were to do it again.
Do you have pre-determined learning outcomes going into a session with your players or do you coach what you see? Thoughts, comments, complaints, suggestions? Comment below or grab my attention with a tweet; @deanatk
Dean Atkins is a coach for the Regional Development Schools (RDS) of the New York Red Bulls. Please feel free to get in touch - I enjoy connecting with other coaches and am partial to a good Twitter debate.