Ben Caldwell is an English Coach currently working in Hamburg, Germany as a Project Leader for the German U19 Players.
In the last few weeks, there has been a unique situation for coaches, who are unable to work with their players due to social distancing restrictions amid the COVID-19 crisis.
However, there is hope, using modern technology and creativity will allow us to find solutions.
In this post, I will offer some advice from my experience gained since they closed all sports facilities in Germany on the 16th of March until the present (16 April 2020)
As a coach, the balance between wanting your players to be autonomous and to follow the advice is a key debate, even more so now under these restrictions
How to encourage autonomy and offer guidance
Now is your opportunity to develop confident autonomous, individuals. Your aim is to have your players think by themselves within a framework that you feel comfortable with.
Its always been my core belief that we need to assist players so that they can manage themselves, make decisions (they don’t have to all be correct), create plans and strategies. All this will initially be managed by you in a subtle strategic way.
Players must feel that they can and are able to be independent people with their own thoughts and viewpoints. Especially during this lockdown you need to be confident as their coach that you trust them to manage themselves safely and effectively.
We all know the benefits of having self-motivated autonomous athletes but how can we develop this in the current situation?
- Set creative tasks – Set your players a challenge. Asked them to plan a stability session to share with the group. Or, analyse a video that you’ve sent them, using the worksheet that you normally use. With a video analysis task, you can broaden their skills at analysing the game which will allow them to become autonomous.
- Give them a broad plan with flexibility for their own ideas. With this, I refer to physical training. If you set a periodized weekly plan but also give them a choice of sessions within the plan they will take more ownership. They need to asess themselves every morning and decide on their plan for that day.
- Introduce role models that they can follow independently. It’s important that your players seek information from any sources. These are some of the people I recommend that they investigate
In an ideal world, players would know how to develop themselves and coaches could sit back and watch. In reality, there are so potential speedbumps that are best avoided!
- Send a weekly structured plan – organising their day at home can be very difficult for young players who are used to being at school. Making a structure for the day really helps. Example – morning stability – school work – afternoon running session. Plus, some players need more structure than others. Do you know your players that well to identify which need you will prompt.
- Use social media – send motivational videos. Use Zoom or a similar platform to have group training online ie. Core training or Tabata sessions. Follow up on the creative tasks using individual Skype calls or Zoom group sessions. Why don’t you workout with them following their plan 🙂
- Promote good role-models. Mobilising the parents as key role models is especially important with the youngest players until age 13-14 when players can be a lot more self-guided. People to follow on YouTube, click on the links below to visit the sites
My hope is that through these difficult times players will increase their internal motivation and ability to take charge of their own learning
Perhaps a naïve hope is also that they come back to training in the future with a greater desire to train and an appreciation of what opportunities they have available to them. If this happens, I promise that you and them will enjoy the sessions far more and maybe the environment changes in a positive way.
A final wish would be that they increase their appreciation of the importance of the coach-athlete relationship that is a key part of their development in their normal training.
Let’s get back on court soon! 🙂
He role includes works an as Assistant Coach to the German U19 Squad and Project Leader for the German U19 Players
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More posts from Ben
How do you maintain a cohesive productive training group?
The simple answer to this question is that it can be really difficult to maintain a productive training environment with a group of players who play singles (especially) and who regularly compete against one another on the circuit.
Here are some suggestions about how to try and manage this type of situation. Possibly using the competitive individual spirit to push the group as a whole to greater heights and belief.