It’s a question that most football coaches will ponder on a regular basis – what are the most important skills needed to be a great coach?
There are the obvious ones, such as the ability to coach improvements in the players under your charge and knowing how to recognise and develop talent. These are what we call the hard skills, the ones that the necessary coaching qualifications, study of the game and experience can teach you.
There are many other important skills to becoming a great coach will come from the mental side and social side of the game that can be a great asset to your coaching potential.
Have a look at these five skills that will help you become a great football coach
Patience and perseverance
Unless you are working with a Lionel Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo, then you need to have patience to be a great football coach. Different players learn and pick up skills at different speeds and in different ways. Some will excel in technical areas such as shooting, ball manipulation or passing whilst others will impress in learning positioning, work rate, team leadership and the tactical side of the game.
Because of this, the best coaches are the ones with the patience and perseverance to help a player develop in any area of their game. It could take weeks for you to teach a young player how to successfully produce a Maradona turn, it might need a period of months to get another comfortable with using their weaker foot or that you coach a player to start communicating in football.
All of the examples above require patience and the ability to coach the player in a learning style that they understand and react positively to.
A great coach will get that player there eventually though, and the feeling of reward when they finally master a skill you’ve been working on for a long period of time is one of the best that you can get as a coach. There is nothing better than seeing patience and perseverance triumph.
Communication with players
You could be the best football coach in the country with the best footballing mind on the planet, but none of that will matter if you can’t get your ideas or feedback across in a clear manner which your players are able to understand. That’s why communication is so important.
When dealing with younger players whose attention may wander, you need to be as concise as possible with the information, you also need to be engaging and speak in a way that they find interesting. That way, none of what you say ends up being lost in the wind. As players progress through the age groups, you’ll need to change your style in order to get across more complex information. This is a complex skill that takes coaches years to master as no player, group or age category are the same.
The best coaches will adapt the way they communicate depending on the scenario, age group or the player they are communicating with. The aim should always be to get the point across without having a negative impact on morale or motivation.
Imagination and creativity
The best coaches are the ones who are able to inspire their players, and a lot of that inspiration can often come through imagination. Thinking of new ways in which you can get your message across will keep your players on their toes and maintain high levels of motivation among them.
This might come from dreaming up new coaching practices so that you aren’t just relying on the same old routines straight out of a manual. It might come from putting yourself in your players shoes and imagining what they would love to be taught – if you’ve got a number of kids turning up in Neymar shirts, tap into their idolism of the world’s most expensive player by teaching them some of his tricks for part of a session.
Creativity is a fundamental skill to have especially when working with younger players as you will need to keep them engaged when coaching. This creativity can also feed into the playing style of your players as you have set a positive creative example.
Your imagination can help keep your players interested and increase their love of the game – and the more they love the game, the more they’ll enjoy playing it.
Positivity and objectiveness
There are always positives to take from a game or training session – even one that goes drastically wrong. The best coaches will be able to take a step back from a footballing event that hasn’t gone to plan and look at it objectively. From there, they can remain positive about it, realising that we can learn as much from our failures as we can our successes.
That’s an important message for players, too. They should never be afraid not to try something new for fear of failure; it’s better to have something go wrong and learn enough to be able to successfully complete it next time than never try it at all.
Sometimes post-match debriefs are better done on the next session instead of the day of the game to allow for yourself and the players to take time and review the game. Some coaches also do not allow parents to contact them until 24hours after the game to ensure that communications are less emotional and more objective.
Negativity is one of the most damaging feelings you can inflict on young players. It should be avoided at all costs.
Passion for your sport and coaching
No team has ever won trophies through ability alone – they have to have passion to go with it. Would Manchester City have managed to secure back-to-back Premier League titles without Pep Guardiola’s passion to be the best driving them on? Probably not – especially given that they’d smashed every record going when lifting the first of those championships.
Players will often take their lead from coaches. If you’ve got a coach whose love of the game is infectious, then it will spread through the group. By instilling a passion for football, a desire to work hard and a thirst to be the best into your players, you’ll be giving them a fire that can take them far in the game.
Becoming the best coach that you can be is a lifelong journey and we believe that coaches should be encouraged to continue their work as football has a huge impact on our society and the world that we live in. If you are passionate about coaching, helping create opportunities for players and improving your local community – take a look at the We Make Footballers franchising opportunity.