Friday, 25 April 2014

My 'E Triple E' - Energy Enthusiasm Empathy & Enjoyment

My new session template
I watched the first Ryan Giggs interview this morning courtesy of Sky Sports News. It lasted around 4-5 Minutes and I took some snippets that he said. Firstly without the surrounding sentences.

"I'll Enjoy" "I've Enjoyed the week" "I'm Gonna Enjoy" "I've enjoyed" "Smiles on fans" "Enjoy Yourselves" (To Players) "Give fans something to smile about" 
He was then asked if he will be installing a 'united' style of play. He said "I want them to play with passion, speed, bravery, imagination and to work hard, most of all, ENJOY it".

He went on to say "As a player I know if I'm enjoying it I can express myself" 
In another statement he said "Wanna see goals, wanna see tackles, wanna see players taking people on, want the passion"

He was finally asked, ‘What have you changed in training’? "Just try and enjoy yourself & express yourself. I want to win Saturday and I felt the best way to do that is to make training as enjoyable as you can"

So Ryan Giggs needs no introduction in terms of what he’s achieved and we will not know what career he will have as a manager at ManUtd or elsewhere. We all know others have had great playing careers and under achieved in management. But what fascinates me is his immediate outlook on what is required. Bearing in mind his knowledge based on that fantastic unmatchable playing experience. I have not doubled up the comments above, that is the amount of times he said those words. Enjoyment, smiles etc. 

You hear so often fans say, well, you’re getting paid fortunes so just do your job etc. But clearly, money is not the only motivating factor. Football is. Why is it? Because we love it.

This interview made me think about everything I have said about how Academy football is and what it is becoming. Here is Ryan Giggs handed a 4 game job at one of the world’s biggest clubs and the first thing is to put smiles on the players faces and he’s not embarrassed to admit that he’s enjoying it himself. Yet, toward the end of my Academy time I felt that was suppressed. At some clubs enjoyment is not on the radar of things to be considered and players and coaches seem miserable. Full of pressure and stress. How can they play with that freedom Giggs describes when there being constantly reminded that every little kick of the ball is recorded, written down, typed up and chucked back at them on a weekly and 6 week report. 

So, you may think that you've come through the coaching ranks having never played the game at serious level and believe that your a 'learner/student' of the game. That's fine but try to recall or understand what it is like to play. When you implement EPPP and all its reports, try to cover the one thing the performance clock and auditor’s don’t need or ask. Are the kids happy? We all know most will not make it so at least let them enjoy the process and leave the system loving football as much or more than they did when they joined. Also, you may force talent out of the game that could have been great because they could never relax and smile.

I firmly believe you can coach to an excellent level being happy and still enable the kids to develop and learn. They don’t have to be miserable and stone faced to convince you the message has been absorbed. They can smile and learn. After all, it seems its key to getting the best out of £100k + per week footballers so why cant that be applied to your young players? 

I feel so strongly about this topic that I have made an immediate change to my own session plans. I want myself and my colleges that I coach with for my organisation to always be reminded of my key requirements. That’s before we get into the fine details of coaching. This is more a coaching philosophy not a playing philosophy. But by applying the former I think the latter can happen organically. So I've printed them on the session plan template as a constant reminder.

My constant reminder for myself and coaches

ENERGY:  Always encourage high tempo play from the players and lead by example as a coach. "Always get caught being yourself" Inject energy buy displaying it. Remember 'behaviour breads behaviour'. 
ENTHUSIASM: The coach, the teacher set the tone and feel of the group. Display plenty of enthusiasm and verbal encouragement. Inject confidence. Lead by example, smile, laugh be happy. Your asking players to work outside their comfort zone, so should you.
EMPATHY: Always be considerate to the players. Think about their circumstances, think about there feelings. Imagine being in their boots. Think about how you felt when you did your last coaching badge assessment. Was you apprehensive? A bit nervous? Was you completely relaxed and coaching with freedom? No, that’s because of pressure, pressure does horrible things to the system. Think about your words & be patient. My ultimate challenge, can you fix fine detail requirements of young players without them even knowing? There's a challenge. Just telling them what they did wrong isn't coaching.
ENJOYMENT: Most of all, if you asked all the players did they enjoy it what would they say? Of course that can be more than your demeanour, it could be simply boredom. Like over coaching, queues, lack of participation, critical words etc. So, do what ever you can to help them enjoy football. That doesn't mean you need to sacrifice discipline and organisation. There’s the challenge, behaviour, discipline and enjoyment can all be achieved together, work out how.

So, thanks Ryan Giggs. You have re-enforced that fundamental issue I raised regarding the so called changing face of youth development. Are the players happy? I will do everything I can to ensure the players in my care certainly are and I think I will have a wonderful environment where that freedom allows all the things you wanted in training this week.

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