What is being a football coach? And what is the definition of being a good one? Being a football coach is certainly more complex than it's given credit for by many outside of the football circle. There are many factors that I'd argue contribute to being a 'good coach', and many of them aren't glaringly obvious to an onlooker or someone coming to observe a session. Some coaches are extremely effective 'on the grass' where their sessions are organised, planned in minute detail and the coaches communication skills are outstanding. They can coach in a logical order, they can diagnose small details that may need correcting, they can link the session from start to finish and understand the game from front to back. These things are usually what most formal coaching awards and their assessment criteria are based on. I would argue that there is a lot more to being a coach than that. There are some great coaches who may be not the greatest showman on the grass but have an unbelievable understanding of people and players, and can have a massive effect on the individuals he or she is dealing with. The conversations they have with individuals, the cultures they create within a group or environment, the way they individualise the experiences of each player through an excellent awareness of what that person requires and when, how a programme of work is developed and then implemented to develop the players. Much of the best coaching I have witnessed has been off the grass. It's been the planning in the office prior to the session, it's the conversations over a number of weeks and months with a certain individual or group, it's the culture that has been nurtured over a period, the relationships you build. Its arguably much harder to judge and assess as it's more longer term or it's often 'invisible'. That's why when someone comes to observe a session of a coach as a one-off, it's impossible for them to gain a full picture of what is occurring, what has occurred and why. The underlining message is that as coaches we should remind ourselves there is far more to 'coaching' than whether you 'got your coaching points out', whether your practice 'lacked realism'. It's not all about the X's and O's. Ultimately asking ourselves; 'What effect have I had on the players today?'
Matty Dye is an excellent coach and friend of Tecnica Football. Matty currently works as Lead Foundation Phase coach at Peterborough United FC. Follow @matt_dye on twitter.