Coaching Corrections in Training

Every coach needs a variety of coaching methods to use as tools with his/her teams. Here is a tool kit of 5 coaching methods and explanations of their use. Please be sure to keep coaching points BRIEF and focused on ONE topic per practice session (i.e. shooting or passing or 1v1 defending). Also limit coaching points or stoppages to 1 or 2 per activity.

I. Coach within the flow of the game.

This is successful with players whose technique allows them to process and play at the same time. The coach provides clear, brief instruction to individuals or small groups of players as the ball is moving. This is not an ongoing monologue, but comments at a critical time to influence play. The caution here is to not let this become noise.

II. Coach the individual player as the game continues.

Here the coach stops an individual player to make a coaching point, but does not stop the activity. While the coach interacts with the player, his team plays a "man down." Obviously the interaction must be brief and concise to get the player back into the activity.

III. Coach at natural stoppages.

Here the coach addresses groups of players during times when the game is still, e.g., when the ball goes out of bounds; at water breaks; change over. While being brief and concise is always important, here it is important to focus on a problem that is fresh in the player's mind.

IV. Allow the conditions of the activity to coach the theme.

Here the conditions of the activity provide the problem for the players to solve. For example, using the 6 goal game to coach small group defending. Defending three goals forces the players to pay particular attention to cover and balance. Conversely attacking three goals will reward the team that can change the point of attack quickly and accurately.

V. Coach using the "freeze" method.

Here the coach "freezes" the game to make his coaching point. This allows the coach to "paint" a very visual picture for the players. Use this option with care, because if used too often it can disrupt the game and frustrate the players.
A technical freeze allows the coach to correct incorrect technique and is coach directed. Here the coach can demonstrate proper technique and have the player rehearse the technique.
A tactical freeze is often coach directed, but can benefit from guided questions as well. If we use questioning, then the questions should state the problem. e.g., "we are giving the ball away coming out of the back, how can we prevent that from happening?" The tactical freeze should be reserved for "big picture" situations involving several players. Optimally, the play should be "frozen" just as the situation presents itself. e.g., as the defenders should be stepping to the ball.