4 Player-Centered Coaching Techniques

  • October 10th, 2019
  • Tom Bean

Traditional methods of coaching have been an autocratic in style, driven by technique and implemented through structured drills without any player-led decision-making with a coach-centered approach.

Modern styles have shifted to a player-centered style. Being more democratic in its approach, sessions are built with game-play style drills with the emphasis being on the players to solve issues themselves and understand patterns of play.

A player-centered approach has evolved as coaches recognise how players need to be able to make decisions in a game where a coach isn't there to tell them what to do. As a result, players are given the freedom to develop their own style where they feel most comfortable to adapt under pressure.

At elite level sport, every player has a different approach to their sport - Steve Smith has an unconventional stance at the crease which goes against all the text-books. Cristiano Ronaldo strikes a dead ball in a way no one had seen before. Every kicker in rugby sets up differently in a way that works for them.

The best coaches are able to find a way to enhance the individual's style, rather than shoehorning their technique into a traditional mould. They base their sessions on developing the players understanding of what works for them and/or the team and their ability to make decisions to adapt in a game situation.

Creating a Player-Centered Session

Use Questions

Give the players the tools to make the right decisions for themselves. Ask what we did, why we did it and how it felt.

Initiate discussions amongst the group to get them thinking deeper into the practice. Rather than simply repeating what the coach tells them, they will develop their own ideas and be prepared to make decisions in the match.

Give Pointers

As a coach, it's still important that you are getting your points across, despite a more democratic coaching style.

Give pointers to set your players in the right direction for them to then solve the problems and to think about specific patterns. Guide them to what you want solving or correcting but think of it as giving them the tools to do it.

Play Conditioned Games

Conditioned games give players the opportunity to make decisions under less pressure, away from the constraints of a drill which dictates exactly where to be and what to do.

By adjusting the games rules, for example to three touch, you are working on your players pre-scanning, first touch and passing. By doing this in a drill, players get accustomed to the controlled environment so when they go into a game, they're unable to repeat the skill if the situation doesn't replicate the drill.

Therefore conditioned games give them the opportunity to develop their skills in an uncontrolled environment similar to a match.

Allow Leaders to Speak

Give your leaders the opportunity to speak in the sessions and lead parts of it themselves. Again, in a match, the coach can only lead the players so far, it requires the natural leaders in the team to step up when the game begins.

By having the opportunity in training to give their opinions and by getting accustomed to other voices within the team, players are better equipped to react to other directions.

Discover the drills which you can use to build up to conditioned games to get your players making decisions for themselves.