Over the past 2 months, I’ve been coaching at least 4 times a week in schools for PE and after school football clubs. In addition to this, I coach U9’s for my grassroots team once a week.
Before I entered schools to coach, I was used to a great 3G astro, half a 7-a-side pitch and the equipment was in good condition. Furthermore, I only had to coach around 10-12 kids at each session. However, coaching at schools forced me to adapt to challenges that occurred on a session-by-session basis.
The first challenge I faced was the facilities. I had to make do with the school playground, which was considerably smaller than the 3G, half a 7-a-side pitch I was used to working on. I had to create sessions that had as little change in the set up as possible and that forced me to be creative as well. Furthermore, the footballs weren’t pumped and the pump had broken, so the quality of my 1st session at a particular school wasn’t great!
Another challenge I encountered was the number of children in each session. My U9’s session usually has no more than 12 players. The 1st school session I witnessed had at least 25 kids. Smaller space and bigger numbers = bigger challenge. I’ve had to adapt in order to create games where everyone is involved as much as possible within the limits of the space and equipment available.
This leads me on to the topic of this post. Adaptation. It’s a vital skill to have as a coach of any sport. There will be sessions where your session plan has to be scrapped as the numbers available is considerably lower than expected, the facilities aren’t what you expected or the equipment you need is not available for the session. Sometimes everything is as expected in terms of the numbers, facilities and equipment, however a section of session is not going to plan. The kids are confused and the session is not having the desired effect. You have to be able to adapt and scrap that particular part of the session. Don’t see it as a insult to your coaching ability. We as coaches preach that when kids make mistakes, they are learning in a session. We tell them not to be afraid of making mistakes or getting something wrong. So we as coaches should practice what we preach. We will not have a great session every time we coach, so don’t be afraid to adapt during the session if it isn’t having the desired outcome.