Grassroots football is back! It’s been a long time coming and it’s a little bit different to before but we couldn’t be happier about it!

To assist coaches returning to action we’ve teamed up with our friends at Football DNA on a series of guest articles that offer advice and expertise in a number of areas.

In previous weeks we’ve looked at how to effectively plan training sessions and coaching small sided games. For the next instalment Ross Brooks from Football DNA tells us about developing coaches within your club.

The Coach Developer Role

Clubs should not undervalue the importance of coaching and the impact coaches can have on creating the optimum learning environment for players to develop. Therefore, in order to help players fulfil their potential, clubs should also invest time in helping coaches also fulfil their potential too.

The role of a coach developer is someone that is able to support and develop coaches but also help retain and find new coaches for their clubs too. How coach developers work within an environment will naturally vary due to the people that you are working with but also the constraints that you have at your club too.

Ultimately, a coach developer can be critical in helping coaches to deliver the clubs coaching philosophy whilst upholding it’s values and beliefs. Plus, ensuring each individual coach is being given a platform to achieve what they want from coaching.

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How will a Coach Developer benefit my club?

  • Find new coaches to work across your various age groups.
  • Improve coach retention. Continual changes of coaches result in a lack of continuity for players and parents.
  • Support coaches with new coaching qualifications, as well as ongoing support to help them develop.
  • Ensure coaches are following the clubs mission statement, values, beliefs and coaching philosophy.
  • Support the induction of new coaches that have joined the club.
  • Help align how coaches working across the club from all age groups.
  • Provide ongoing support for coaches throughout the season if they have any challenges or need help with their coaching.

In each club, having an individual that is passionate about developing people and coaches can be invaluable. The above highlights some of the benefits of having this person in place, but what does the right person look like?

What is required to be a Coach Developer?

There is a number of pathways available for coaches that are looking to move into coach development whether that be in football or other sports. The English FA for example have a number of FAYCD’s (FA Youth Coach Developer) that work across professional academies supporting coaches in their roles. Likewise, all professional clubs now that are governed by the Premier League’s EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) have a Head of Coaching that is responsible for the coaches working within that club.

Now, there are requirements of coaching qualifications and experience for these roles – but that shouldn’t stop grassroots clubs, private academies and non professional football clubs in investing in individuals that can bring their own experience and expertise to support and develop coaches within their own environment.

Important Attributes for Coach Developers

  • Passionate about helping people and supporting them with their own person development.
  • Has significant experience in coaching across a variety of different age groups and environments.
  • Has a good understanding of practice design, coaching language etc.
  • Is a role model and is a flag bearer for your clubs values and beliefs.
  • Able to create a positive learning environment for coaches to learn and develop.
  • Has an ability to build relationships; building a strong rapport with people where they feel comfortable to work with them.
  • Is an honest individual that has integrity and puts others first.
  • Is a strong communicator and can provide positive feedback to people.
  • Carries credibility at the club through their experience, qualifications and relationship with people within the club and local community.
  • A reflective practitioner who looks to develop themselves.

The above list will help provide you with a guideline to help you to identify the right person that can work within your club. Alternatively, you may recognise some of these traits within yourself and be encouraged to look into coach development as well.

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Providing coaches with their own development plan.

As a coach developer or mentor, time should be spent understanding each individual coach and who they are, how they coach and what their goals are. A personal development plan provides coaches with a framework to follow whilst coaching within your club.

Clubs may use a personal development plan to help evaluate coaches across their values, beliefs and coaching philosophy. However, the real purpose of this plan should be to facilitate each individual with helping them to develop along their coaching journey.

Personal development plans can be a great tool to use at the beginning of each season to help frame how you will support the coaches across the year. By using a development plan you will be able to have a point of reference to refer back to. As well as giving that person a clear plan of what you can provide for them to develop.

Understanding who they are – Building an understanding of what qualifications, experience and reasons an individual has for coaching will help you to work out the best way forward to help them develop. Likewise, building a strong rapport with coaches by finding out as much about them and showing a willingness to take time in this shouldn’t be undervalued either.

How they coach – In order to help coaches; observations and collaborative work with them will allow you to have a better understanding of how they Plan, Do & Review. Working with coaches shouldn’t be seen as an assessment. Each individual will have their own preference on how/what support they need and it’s important when sitting down with that coach that you build a relationship with them. This will ensure that they don’t feel under pressure when you are working with them, as well as also understanding what they need from you too.

What their goals are – By understanding what a coaches goal is, you’ll be able look at building a development plan that is going to help and support them along their journey. Coaches goals may vary from it being a hobby, gaining a new qualification or wanting to progress as a coach and make it a career. This will also help you to understand how you can support each coach within your club.

Defining an action plan – From the above, you’ll be able to begin to understand what the coach is best at, how you can support them and how you will go about doing this. An action plan may consist of how you will work with that coach to help them to develop their strengths and areas of development. As well as helping them to achieve their objectives too.

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