Oct 7th 2021
Written by The Coaching Manual
The basis and reasoning behind reflection in any walk of life is to learn more about ourselves from a previous performance/experience and then determine how things can be done better in the future.
If any coach wants to develop they should seriously look at how to fit reflective practice into their routine as it's a great way in which to improve. However, like any skill, it can take time to do it well and efficiently.
Reflection can cover things like delivery to players, interventions throughout the session - the timing of and delivery of, man-management situations, the success of certain practices and more.
Being more self-aware is really important in coaching as it allows you to learn more about your strengths and your weaknesses. Self-awareness is useful when learning how you are perceived by others or in this instance the players in your team and maybe even the parents of said players.
It sometimes can be hard to be fully self-aware so it might be useful to get the opinions of some of the parents, people watching, assistant coaches etc. Coaches can always record their sessions/games to then look back at the footage and further review their coaching. It doesn't have to be of a professional standard it just needs to capture what you have said to your players throughout the session/game.
There can be a common misconception that coaches don’t have the time to reflect on each training session/game but this is not the case. The reflection process does take long so coaches should always be able to find the time, whether that’s in the car journey home, at home before you go to sleep, on the way to work the following morning etc.
At first, it can just be a 5-10 minute thought process in your head to mull over the good and bad from the session/game. As time goes on and you become more comfortable self-analysing and you can start to implement a proper process, dedicate more time and even begin to write things down.
A useful habit to get into can be to plan your session for the following week directly after reflection. The Coaching Manual offers cutting edge session planning software to make planning and designing your own sessions easier than ever. The can be found in the My Content section of the platform.
A lot of grassroots and novice coaches can copy and follow coaching techniques from elite-level coaches and there is nothing wrong with this. However, upon reflection, it may become apparent that these techniques don’t work with a coach's particular style or don’t fit with a certain group of players.
Similarly, if you are already employing an unconventional technique in your coaching and you find it to be effective upon reflection then obviously stick with it.
As previously mentioned, a lot of trying something new or sticking with what you know comes down to understanding your players more and discovering what works best for them. This short article gives some great tips on how to better understand the players in your team.
Saving five minutes at the end of a session can be useful to talk to the players to ask what they thought went well, what didn’t go well. You as a coach can then use this feedback to reflect on the areas that can be used again (what went well) and the areas that need development (what didn’t go well).
This process will usually happen on a matchday as coaches speak with their players after the full-time whistle in the changing room but it can be also useful to encourage players to have a think about the game in their own time so they can try and improve on something next week.
Check out this handy article which highlights the effectiveness of allowing players to lead the reflection of the game on the car journey home.
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.