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  • Writer's pictureDon Draxler

Is Coaching Teaching? and Is Training Coaching?

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

I Think Caution on Both Accounts

You may think that teaching our youth and training them to do something is a good thing, yes? I believe this is the approach to learning that is destroying our kids’ abilities to be great players and not end up good players.

Children are naturally born creative beings. It’s through our progression to adulthood that most people lose or have difficulty staying creative in their adult lives.

Do We Train Animals?

We train our kids (prescriptive) like horses, dogs, and monkeys. Sounds awful, but what’s the difference?

  • We teach (we know the answers/experience) listen to me.

Play scares adults because play sounds childish. It's open...

“…the fact is that kids learn to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.”

- Alfie Kohn, lecturer in Education and Psychology

Play is freedom and working outside of conformity. Play is exploratory and does not follow a set pattern of rules, laws, and guiding principles that keep us on a path of correct solutions. You don’t have to understand creativity; you only give it room to flow, and we appreciate it when we see it. Yet, we do not know how to capture creativity. You don’t get creative; you must be open to being creative. It’s elusive when forced. Playing with awareness is the door that opens the possibilities to creativity. It is not a formula or procedure to repeat without repetition. You must be willing to not know the answer. Not knowing outcomes is why most adults fear it and try to control the path of our instinctual ability to be natural-born discoverers. Childhood is play! Its beauty is here today and gone tomorrow. You must learn to walk the path of playfulness if what you seek is - creativity.

“Creativity is open to anyone willing to risk,

not being right.”

When you try to control an outcome, creativity is not possible!

Coach is a Guide, not a traditional teacher or trainer.

  • A Guide is what leadership needs to be

  • A Guide is someone who learns beside someone else

  • A Guide is not always someone who is in the lead

  • A Guide does not meet you with answers

  • A Guide can lead

  • A Guide can follow

  • A Guide is on your side, supportive and inspirational

  • A Guide trusts and helps you on your path

  • A Guide helps you trust your instincts

  • A Guide is creative

  • A Guide does not know the outcomes

  • A Guide is willing to be wrong

  • A Guide does not control

  • A Guide love's your journey

Even though coaches are there to help their players get better at their sport, teaching often is associated with imparting our knowledge on to those who do not know the subject at hand.

“1st Mistake we make as coaches,

thinking we are the authority

of knowledge and

children must learn from adults.”

Our egos and arrogance control our behaviors – creativity does not play by those rules.

We are all there because coaches like to help. Our idea of helping is skewed in the wrong way. Young people want adults to be present to watch, but not to tell them what to do all the time.

Do not make decisions for the kids. Design different environments so they can explore their own choices, devoid of doing it rightly or wrongly.

"Coach what you see, not what you want to see.”

- Mark O’Sullivan

Coaches can talk but often need to be silent and observe what the players experience. We must allow children to take risks and make mistakes and not always perform the “correct moves” in a sport. Step back and relax; it is the child’s time to explore and discover at their own pace.

“A coach is a lucky witness in a player's journey.”

Maturity is a Natural Process

Children grow organically, and their level of commitment, problem-solving skills, and collaboration abilities grow along with their levels of maturity. Children are meant to be free to discover. Save the over-coaching for their later post-pubescent years. Have them start to communicate with each other at 5/6 years of age. Yes, they are capable. Everything starts simple to complex. Imagine their ability to collaborate by the time they get to high school?

Discover how observing keeps you at bay from feeling the need to comment all the time. Be more selective and specific in what can be highlighted.

Coaches Must be Environmental Designers

Further investigation:

  • Professor Matthias Lochmann, Department of Sport Science and Sport Chair of Sport and Exercise Medicine, He’s changing Germany Youth Football

  • Kris van der Haegan, Director of Coach Education at Royal Belgium Football Association, Helped change Belgium Youth Football and seen Belgium go from #66 to #1 in the world.

  • Debbie Sayers of Salisbury Rovers, UK, free of leagues to set up the best environments in competition for kids.

  • Ted Kroeten at Joy of the People, Minneapolis, created “free play” for young players, waiting on deliberate practice until they are 15+ years old. Radical.

Change always happens, embrace it or stay traditional.

It's your choice!


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