In this article I will offer my views on the importance of game day coaching. It is vital we get our game day coaching manner right, as this is what the youth players will remember for the rest of their lives. These players live for the weekend games and these are the memories that will last with them forever.

The first thing we, as coaches, need to do, is prepare correctly for the game. It is vital that we make our own preparations for a game to make the day run as smooth as possible and will allow your professional attitude to transfer to the players. What preparations can we make?

  • Make sure you know which players are available for the upcoming game
  • Does your club have a rotation policy? If so, make sure you keep a record of previous line-ups and positions played throughout the season.
  • Make sure your travel preparations are set. When players turn up they will look for their coach. Look to arrive early (before the players) to set a professional example.
  • Use a warm up drill that the players are familiar with. This will eliminate confusion from players before the game and will allow them to focus on the game ahead. You should look for the intensity of the warm up to increase as kick off time gets closer.
  • Have a small number of objectives you want the players to achieve from the game? E.g. can we look to make 5 passes in a row? Can we look to beat players in 1v1 situations? Can we look to switch play?

All this pre match preparation is designed to make the game run as smooth as possible so we can create a good learning environment for the players. We still have a vital role whilst the game is going on and we must conduct ourselves professionally to allow the players to focus.  We must look to be calm on the sideline and not overload players with information.  It is vital that our priority is on the player’s development; we are looking to build the players in to well rounded individual and team players for the future. We need to encourage players to try new things and we, as coaches, should not get frustrated when they make mistakes.  

Our game management extends to how well we can read the game tactically. Can we spot weaknesses in the opposition? What formation are they playing? Identify their weak/strong players? Are our own objectives being met? At half time speak with the players regarding the objectives and how they can improve on them during the second half. At the end of the game you should give the team a short debrief touching on what they done well and what they can improve.

It is imperative that players have an enjoyable experience when playing competitive games. They should look forward to playing and be confident going in to each game.

To summarize the game day experience:

  • Pre Game Prep is key
  • Professional conduct starts from the warm up and carries right through until leaving the field.
  • Development comes first
  • Players should be confident to try new things, this comes from the coaches conduct!!

 Harry Trethowan -  May  2016