Oct 31st 2022
Written by The Coaching Manual
Calgary Rangers have partnered with The Coaching Manual to support their coaches in order to help ensure their young players "fall in love with soccer".
We caught up with Gary Crooks, Technical Director at Calgary Rangers, to speak about the digital coaching platform that he first used during his time as Overseas Development Officer at Rangers FC in Glasgow.
Gary said: "For me it's about quality control and providing the support to the coaches so they feel comfortable, but also so that they're going to deliver sessions with sessions that are going to be of benefit to the kids. We want to ignite their love and passion for the game, make sure they enjoy it, and the likelihood is that if they have that passion and desire to play then they're more likely to learn.
"I feel that The Coaching Manual platform, with its video content, animations, how you are able to create the sessions, and aesthetically as well - it's very easy to follow. That's from some of the feedback I've had from coaches."
During his time working with Rangers FC in Glasgow, the 55-time Scottish champions partnered with The Coaching Manual to power their own bespoke digital education platform, the Rangers Online Academy. Gary added: "I knew Paul Bright, TCM Technical Director, and Lee Fletcher, TCM Head of Content, from my time at Glasgow Rangers. When I was at Rangers, the area of business that I was in was looking after youth teams from all over the world, in particular North America.
"You would find that you would get Technical Directors, Directors of Coaching, or Head of Academies, and they would have a huge number of teams, and coaches, and they were trying to streamline their approach. How do they get everyone on board? How do they bring together the framework for delivering sessions? When we came across the Coaching Manual, we thought that they were aligned in the approach we were looking for. Also the experience that The Coaching Manual has with working with clubs overseas.
"Since I've moved to Canada, a big part of my journey has been to educate the coaches, so we've introduced The Coaching Manual at Calgary Rangers, which is a big club in terms of numbers - in the outside season we have more than 1,000 kids."
As well as getting the club's many coaches "singing from the same hymn sheet", Gary commented that he also wanted to make the first steps into coaching as comfortable as possible for the parents who volunteer at Calgary Rangers.
He said: "I'm not looking for the next Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola, we have volunteer parents who give up their time to help coach. Sometimes their background isn't soccer - and they need the support that The Coaching Manual can provide. If they just get a sheet of paper with Xs and Os on it, it doesn't mean too much. With The Coaching Manual we can provide them with support and education, it really helps them.
"It also means they can refer to their plans at any point. They're not going to have a lot of time to look at session plans, so now that we are able to plan things weeks in advance they can look at the sessions that are coming up. It also helps to create a dialogue between the likes of myself and the coaches, and we can provide that support in terms of helping them deliver their sessions. The Coaching Manual is a really good fit to help us and develop that program."
Gary also stressed the importance of streamlining the organisation of each session, especially when it comes to newer coaches. Every minute of any club's short sessions is precious.
He said: "It's about having that synergy and that alignment. Even the language and terminology, understanding what we're trying to get out of each session, and of course the structure of it - making sure there's not too much time in between. For some teams in the winter season, we might only have an hour session - so if coaches don't have that structure and they're spending time between drills setting up the next station, that eats into their time. Especially when you've got younger ones, within 30 seconds they get bored or they're wanting to get right back into it. So it's about making sure that we have that minimal arrangement of the next drill, streamlining each session, but it's also about giving the guys the understanding of the framework and what we're trying to achieve."
Calgary Rangers Soccer Club is a community-focused club, dedicated to providing a safe environment and creating a positive learning atmosphere for players of all ages and abilities. As a club, they believe it is their responsibility to deliver excellence in the community and allow players of all abilities to push themselves to their desired level, develop necessary social skills, and have the opportunity to meet lifelong friends.
Gary added: "We don't want to overcomplicate it. We have a mixed range of experience with our coaches and we need to make sure everyone is comfortable delivering their sessions. We want the kids to have that enjoyment, where they can't wait to come back for the next session, and have that passion and love for the game like we did. In the UK it's part of the culture, but if we're serious about soccer in Canada, we've got to make sure the kids are having fun while they're playing."
The history of Calgary Rangers Soccer Club begins far before it was incorporated as a society in Alberta in 2001. The organization started as a grassroots House League program operated by the Strathcona Community Association. For almost 20 years, the House League tradition has continued, allowing young players to experience soccer in a place where fun is first and foremost. Today, the organization has grown to support teams of both genders in the Alberta Youth Soccer League (AYSL) and all tiers in Calgary Minor Soccer Association (CMSA). In July 2019, after a rigorous review process, Canada Soccer announced that 39 clubs in Alberta, BC and Ontario were provisionally granted the National Youth Club Licence (NYCL), the highest amateur youth club designation in the Canada Soccer Club Licensing Program. Calgary Rangers was one of the initial four clubs in Calgary that met the 142 criteria and was granted a National Youth Club Licence.
For more information about Calgary Rangers, please visit their website here.
If you would like to enquire about the ways in which The Coaching Manual can support your club, coaches, and players, please fill out our enquiry form below:
With plans to suit everyone, The Coaching Manual is the perfect resource for soccer coaches who want to improve their understanding of coaching and create a first-class soccer learning environment for their players.