Too often the phrase “student of the game” is related to players. We hear it on the sports news and relate being a student to being a player. Coaches must learn the game in order to teach it and that is obvious, but what is sometimes over-looked is the fact that coaches can never be complacent.
Coaches must always have a student mentality in that they are always looking for something to learn. There is no coach out there that knows everything about soccer, and if they think they do, then they will become complacent and stale. Stale coaches never adapt or evolve to the ever changing sport. Athlete are developing at a different rate they did years ago, so a coach who does not evolve would miss out on the changes.
Coaches cannot teach until they have learned and they learn by doing. How do you learn by doing? It is the same as in any school subject. We must first listen about what to do and see expectation. Attempt/perform the task and practice for perfection not only the skill, but most importantly perfect the instruction. Learning concepts is drastically important and a majority of learning comes from teaching. Coaches must adapt to the talents on their team and coaches end up learning the most from adjusting strategies and concepts to fit their teams.
Coaches need to build basic skills and work their way up to advance play to better understand what is needed in the drills they are asking athletes to perform. A local soccer league or adult play is a great way to get with a team, practice, and advance as a student of the game.
Watch soccer! With so many people around the world being visual learners, it is amazing at how much can be learned from what we see. Go to local games, a high school, college, or even the local club team. Watch the whole process, you might find a pre-game warm up or drill you would like to incorporate in your team. Watch the entire field and watch how the coaches react and interact with their team, some positive, some negative, and learn. Watch as a coach and observe the game in its entirety. Whether you walk away with something you liked, might use, or will never use it is part of your coaching responsibility to continue to look and learn as a student of the game.