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Coaching Styles | Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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  • mantrobus

    Hi all,

    This is a topic I have been trying to reflect upon in my sessions at the moment. There are obviously a lot of coaching styles out there, I just want to get a grasp on what the community feel they use frequently and why they use it.

    So two questions:

    1) What coaching style do you believe you use the most when coaching?

    2) Why do you use it? What are the benefits?




  • JonWoodward74

    Hi Mike

    Great questions - this was raised yesterday within my post grad session, so it is very timely.

    There is much debate over is it a coaching style, a learning preference, etc, but ultimately I feel you will (should?!) adapt your coaching to whoever is in front of you.

    My 'preferred' is based around guided discovery. I am a big believer in coaching by not coaching, or coaching by stealth. By creating situations, I like to observe the players in action, from drill based exercises to small game based approaches. If the players can already do it, why coach it, and then it is down to the creativity of my sessions to develop the skills within relevant and life like situations.

    Yes, there has to be times for skill introduction through command (though I am not a fan of the word) but players, especially children can surprise by how much they know, and how quickly they adapt

    Hoping for other to drop into this debate!!!!



  • Zak90

    Hi Mike

    I mainly use the guided discovery coaching style. As my philosophy includes the participants being independent and trying to overcome problems by themselves. I use it along with TGFU and deliberate appropriate questioning and it has some great results. I have also started using observation and feedback with some of my year 5 and year 6 classes and it has been great because the better sports performers in the class enjoy helping their peers. It's also enabled me to use technology (ipads) where the children record each other and then provide feedback.

    Zak Hanlon 

  • David_T

    I have to agree that with other comments in terms of guided discovery.  I personally feel this is a good way to empower children to find their own answers.


    But there are of course challenges, years of being spoon fed can mean that with some more experienced athletes they expect this to continue and find your coaching style difficult and even frustrating.  I remember one athlete saying to me earlier this year...Oh don't be that coach that tries to make us work ou the answer! You're the coach...you tell us!  Suffice to say I didn't haha!


  • LawrieOK

    Hi David Turner. Your final paragraph hit the spot for me at this time - my adult ladies team resist 'modern' coaching, and insist that they are given direct & specific instructions, NOT guided discovery in any form. "We pay you to coach, so coach us!!!" 

  • David_T

    Hi Lawrie,

    The only solution I have found thus far is to persevere.  I believe it helps people take some individual responsibility and  understand their sport.  

    I read an article on Twitter earlier today that Jon Woodward sent me, it had some good ideas around leadership and it dawned on me that what you're talking about here in a team situation, could potentially be supported by appointing and utilising a leader within the team (change who has the role periodically).  Then have this leader from within the team actually adopt this 'modern' coaching approach from within the team itself.  

  • Richard2591

    Some interesting observations listed here. I agree with Jon in the notion that you must know your audience, for example I know with male semi professional footballers they often tend to tolerate and welcome a command approach, and ultimately all players are a product of their influences and experiences. However, personally a command approach would be the last approach I'd use...

    I often intertwine guided discovery with trial and error, setting players challenges, observing their solutions and decision making before providing feedback. Now this isn't the only way, but from experience players feel motivated, empowered, stimulated and provoked into making real life decisions on the pitch. In addition, there is much more game flow and intensity to the sessions. Perseverance is key with any coaching method, and remember none of the coaching methods within the coaching pyramid sit in isolation. Often intertwining them can bring some amazing results...

    Command + Guided Discovery = I want you to receive the ball with your back not to goal 

    Result - players finding solutions even though you've manipulated the task (to help them) 

    I find all this fascinating...! 

  • robdelve

    I'm just going to throw my views in here, even if it's just for my own benefit :)

    My coaching style varies with each group I take, and with the people in the group. I do prefer to use a Guided Discovery and Question & Answer approach in general. 

    Guided discovery not only allows, but encourages experimentation. Creativity is a must in a lot of invasion games. Those that need any help can then be given it specifically, and those who don't can continue to try new things. Question and Answer is more about finding out what you're players may or may not understand, which can help when planning future sessions with a clear learning focus in mind for specific individuals. 

    Prescriptive, command style coaching doesn't fit my personality, and I feel it restricts me personally from showing the groups I work with that I'm enjoying myself. However, if you're working on something that is completely new, or trying to correct techniques, this can often be the most appropriate way of coaching at the time. 

    Observation & Feedback is something I have experimented with, but I find that there is a right time to use it, though you can guaruntee you'll try it with someone, and say 'Lets watch little Johnny together, and you tell me what he does' whilst little Johnny makes every mistake possible, leaving the O&F completely mute in that moment!

  • Maverick1977

    Hi Michael.

    Great question.  I am a firm believer in that a child will eventually learn from all of their mistakes in any sport they participate in. I am a strict but fair grass roots football coach . I believe in the question and answer method .. I find this works at my age group (under 10's) . If they know they have made a mistake, I will ask them if they could have done it a different way then 9 out of 10 time they give the answer they think is correct.. 

    Cheers Dan

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