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As coaches we are constantly faced with problems. No matter what level, age or ability of the players/athletes or environment, the ability of coaches to problem solve is a vital component of success.
The team/club/environment (fish) will flourish or deplete (rot) based on those solutions of the coach (head).
In terms of problems, these aren't just limited to technical or tactical issues. We have all experienced a plethora of problems 'off the pitch' and it is integral that every coach uses the same critical thinking when dealing with these issues. Poor problem solving both on and off the field echoes the effectiveness of a coach.
How do you ensure that you are solving problems effectively within your environment?
I agree in that I often feel the easy part is the technical or tactical side of things. Whilst I appreciate these things take time and not everyone has them, they seem to be easier to develop with the correct contacts, support and expereience than the emotional intelligence required to make the correct call for your participants - especially in the heat of battle!
I find that one things I have tried to do is remove myself from the coach/athlete relationship briefly and think about how I would like to be 'coached' (if that's the right word) at that time. Usually what i'd like to say or do in the heat of the moment, isn't what I would personally have reacted the best to...
Which begs the question why did I think that way and thank god I didn't do anything rash!
Off the field "stuff" takes up more time for a coach than the technical/tactical side of things. It is about having in place processes and procedures where everyone knows what needs doing and by when, it is about effective planning and also about effective relationships not just with your players/athletes but also the wider club/environment (the whole fish). You need to be able to foster good to great relationships with a multitude of people from secretary, chair, grounds people, tea hut people, league people, fixture people plus having a little "crew" around you of other coaches who buy into the whole fish.
Should we be looking at octopuses (octopi/octopodes) instead of the fish?
Great Question Sarah and one I feel I've quizzed myself on many times.
In many ways I use my U17 football team as a bit of a guinea pig. I've found, as Colin says, that the off field parts take up significantly more time than us as coaches would like. David's right too, often the tech & tact parts are easier to deal with, as they are perhaps the 'purer' parts of coaching.
But in the environment we work in, we're so much more than coaches, so in my experience my support strutcture is vital as it enables me to focus on less aspects and therefore (hopefully) with improved quality.
The littlest things make a huge difference. I explained to my current club and the teams the American concept of 'team mom' and how it helps. I have an asst coach who arrnages our drivers for away games, a mum who brings the tea and coffees for the parents etc. Not having to overly concern myself with these means I can focus more on the players.
My asst coach tracks all minutes played during our matches, and only recently this way a huge help. A parent apporached us angry about his son's playing time. Our stats were there to show the parent that his son had actually played the 6th most minutes out of 17 players. It's a small example but I'd struggle on my own to accurately track all this and prep and coach games. This problem was easily resolved due to the support structure. As such the parent has now been most supportive and his son's training attendence has risen. This player is currently injured and due to the improved relationship we are managing everyone's expectations. All stemming from the role my asst coach plays.
Of course these are very particular examples to my team and an age group. But to problem solve effectively you can't expect to have 100% control and knowledge over everything all the time, something will suffer. Delegate where appropriate/required. So to twist your fish analogy - if you're the head, use your school!
Gary very true - I have a parent's meeting at the start of the year and explain for me to give the players my full attention on match days I need them to share the load of putting up goals, corners flags etc.
And I love the "you're the head, use your school" analogy!
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