Our Principles – Read It

We have spent a lot of time researching coaching concepts from around the world, in a variety of different sports and levels of play.

On this page you will find blog posts, articles, and links to experts who have influenced our coaching principles.

Surfing, Soccer, & Prototypes – The Way Players Learn

I have six children and thus have personally funded a human laboratory in learning and chaos. Those of you with more than two children will understand this blog. I say more than two because once we have three or more children as a couple we are in a “numbers down” match and are just fending off disaster until the bedtime whistle blows. Mom and Dad can handle two kids just fine as they can play “1v1” minimizing damage and controlling the match.

In my family laboratory and on football pitches worldwide, there are some truths we hold to be evident about learning. Children do not learn the way we tend to coach them. Just observe young people and you will add countless examples to the ones I share here.

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What we believe

we believe all learning is situated…

… so we seek to understand the context of each situation
… and resist the urge to assume that we have seen this before and know “the answer”

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We are soccer doctors – Let’s stop the bleeding first

If you went to the doctor with a headache and he put leeches on you, would you confide in him for a second visit? Bloodletting must be the cure, right?
Sounds ridiculous that a modern day doctor would engage in a procedure that does not nurture you into a healthy, vibrant being, right?
And yet, across the globe you will find youth coaches employing a practice that does not nurture athletes into vibrant, healthy and intelligent footballers.

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I was blessed with a loud voice and I like to talk…(no kidding I hear many of you cry!)
Not surprisingly, I could also be a very loud coach… a loud coach that spoke a lot!
I used to use my voice as a major tool in my coaching toolbox. I would provide a lot of feedback to players in an effort to create a high energy, motivational climate. I would fill the airwaves with positively descriptive words and phrases like “good”, “excellent”, “I like it!”, “good thinking!”, “good effort” Sometimes I would go further and start throwing in the odd instruction like ‘”watch the back post”, “use the space” or sometimes…”give it” or “carry to space”.
Then somebody gave me some feedback about my coaching and questioned my use of voice and my constant communication. I was made aware that I was probably just filling the session with an incessant barrage of noise which the players would just tune out. It was explained that the players either ignore me or they start to become dependent on the feedback which could prevent them from truly exploring different ways of doing things for fear of not receiving a positive reinforcement message.

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GAME PLAY LEARN promotes a shift from traditional adult-driven concepts towards a modern approach that empowers learners and embraces the complexities of the learning journey.
The purpose of this piece then, hopes to move us on from the traditional focus on technical training towards a modern view that accepts perception/action cannot be separated, that there are varying functional solutions to a complex task, and in fact the ‘how to’ of a task or the technique in itself doesn’t matter.

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What is a Silent Coach? I think this is a coach that assumes that every child has the capability for independent analytical thinking in terms of solving problems presented to them in competitive sport. The Silent Coach tries to create an environment for their players that empowers them to solve problems rather than dictating to them what the answers are.

A Silent Coach isn’t silent, but is comfortable using silence as a way to support player development, and sees it as a major part of their coaching toolkit.

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from Game Play Learn Design the GAME - Let them PLAY - Watch them LearnIs what you say from the sideline actually helping your players learn? Not perform, but learn? Observing many youth football matches over the past few months has left me pondering the role of the...

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