Apr 19th 2021
Written by The Coaching Manual
Ambleside, Lake District, UK
Head of Product Development
"The first coaching that I did was when I was 18 - I used to coach rugby and boxing. I qualified through the RFU and the ABA. Usually that was with 10, 11 year olds. I continued playing football throughout my 20s and 30s (and still play now) so I was more interested in playing than coaching. It wasn’t until my son was starting to play football that I started coaching - seven years ago. I started helping out, as a volunteer dad coach."
"I’m also the Digital Coach Education Manager at Altrincham FC, which involves me working with the Director of Coaching and some of the executive staff to share ideas with the broader group of coaches around club philosophy, coaching styles, ways of playing, so I sit there under the DOC and Club Exec to share ideas that are relevant to how Altrincham want to operate as a club.
"The coaches have all been given access to The Coaching Manual, and then I can use the Folders features, and Season Plan tool, to share relevant information with different coaches at different age groups."
"When we started The Coaching Manual, there were a couple of issues that we observed in education around the game, which we thought we could add value to. Firstly, the growth of YouTube and social media, created a boom in content for coaches and players. Unfortunately, in many cases, this information was without context, factually incorrect or promoted by users who associated their content with famous managers (such as Pep Guardiola), with no real connection to the manager or their motivation for the sessions that were promoted. This meant that popularity, instead of a rigorous focus on factual accuracy and quality, was becoming the benchmark for coaching content and therefore for online coach education.
"We thought we could provide that context, maintain factual accuracy and deliver content which coaches could rely upon for quality of information and delivery. In essence becoming a kitemark for coaching and player education that can be relied upon. We definitely feel we have achieved and continue to maintain those high standards for our customers.
"Secondly, through a technology company we were working with at the time, we were involved in the early stages of the implementation of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) in professional English football. We realised quite early on from EPPP, that safeguarding was going to present a significant hurdle for coaches to gain coach education through their local professional football club.
"Up until 2010, clubs would allow coaches to observe sessions in academies and learn from them. Once EPPP started, more secrecy started to surround the professional game and the doors to academies were shut. In the past, you might have been able to go and watch Man United train at The Cliff and this access was shut off, meaning coaches had fewer and fewer opportunities to learn from the experts within the professional game.
"The Coaching Manual is a way for us to give people access to really high quality coaches in their natural environment. It’s about making it accessible, but we are also there as a strict level of quality control. The experts that were being put forward by the existing structures - social media, were often not experts in our eye."
"We’re very unique as a business, in that we are run by people who are passionate about football - that’s a standard in this game - but it’s also about ensuring we have the right people to do the right things for our customers. We’ve got some great football brains inside the business, but it’s my job to take information from those football brains and all the people who use The Coaching Manual and the amazing feedback they give us, and then transform that information, that knowledge, and that feedback, into products that help coaches do their job better, help coaches improve their knowledge, help coaches improve their players.
"My focus is always on solving problems for users, asking the questions that give me the answers to the problems that I’m presented with, and then working with a team inside The Coaching Manual to deliver those solutions in a platform that feels easy to use and easy to access. I'm focused on the improvement of the platform and making sure that as a coach myself, what we develop actually does work. All of the things that we have created, we know that they are accepted as being really important to coaches."
My dad was quite young when I was born - he was in his early 20s and still playing football, so although I would like to think my earliest memory was something romantic like going to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United, it was more likely just watching my dad playing, being dumped on the sideline at 4 or 5 with my older brother.
"If my mum wanted me out of the house, she would make my dad take me and my brothers to his games. It was that, and it was just kicking a ball around with my brothers and my dad.
"I was five or six the first time I went to watch United, and that was usually in the boot of an estate car full of men going to watch the game. There were always footballs in our house. Because our dad played, we were quite popular where we grew up - especially in the winter when it snowed because people would come to our house to ask us to play football because they knew that we had an orange ball. We were always the kids who had a ball."
To learn more about what The Coaching Manual can do for your club, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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.