Ryan Giggs has made his debut as a manager. The result? A 4-0 win – an emphatic result. Whether this proves a false dawn or the genesis of one of the world’s finest coaches remains to be seen – either way Giggs (and others starting out their journey on the managerial/coaching game of snakes and ladders) needs to develop his coaching culture. Here are some ideas for him.
I’m going to shamelessly borrow the structure of my book ‘Soccer Brain’ for this blog post. After all, it is about coaching culture. And it is an effective coaching culture that all managers and coaches need to build, develop and maintain to be successful.
A Culture of Creativity
There can be no standing still. There can be no backward steps. There can be no return to the past. World class coaches, twenty first century coaches move with the times – and they ensure their organisation does as well.
They leave no stone left unturned to be the best they can be and to help players be the best they can be. They explore the 1%’s, the inches and even the centremetres. They go that little bit further to develop a platform for success.
And they don’t have to believe in what they’re delegating to others. I’m sure Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t naturally believe in some of the sport science that was delivered under his watch. Yet he believed that players needed an environment that helped them get the best from themselves. And if that meant breaking his own belief system he would create a culture that contained exactly what they needed.
For those of you at grassroots, with no money and little time – don’t despair. Creativity doesn’t always require large bank accounts or long days of brainstorming. Steven Spielberg wanted an electronic shark for his famous film Jaws – yet the studio couldn’t afford to provide him with one. So what did he come up with? The idea of seeing the world through the shark’s eyes – which led to even more suspense.
A brilliant, creative solution is usually around the corner…if you take a little time to problem solve and to stretch your mindset.
A Culture of Confidence
You must work hard to believe in yourself – in everything you do and everything you say. And you must work hard to help others believe – in every action they take and every motion they make.
For many (and I agree with this notion) it is belief that separates the best from the also-rans. It is belief that governs potential, and belief that ultimately determines success. When you watch a champion in any sport there is more than hard work at play. There is a certainty, an all knowing absorption of belief in self that drives world class technique and tactics and ultimately world class performance. You, the coach, must contribute to this – for every word you say, every sentence your players hear impacts upon their focus, their learning, their self-belief and subsequently their performance confidence.
Build your culture of confidence solutions. These can be as small as a word here or there and can be as large as full scale individual player programmes. There are so many methodologies to help players believe in themselves. The questions is – do you have any?
A Culture of Commitment
Mr. Giggs and other like him have to help their players commit – to commit in training, to commit under pressure and to commit when things aren’t going well and when adversity strikes. True commitment doesn’t know of form and streaks.
Do you know how to help players stretch their comfort zone in training? Do you give your players a mental structure to deliver excellence in every game – to deal with distraction and to play with confidence?
Your culture of commitment is largely mediated by your own attitude towards your profession or your hobby. Cut corners and your players will too. Arrive unprepared and late and your players will too. Leave early and your players will slow their trajectory of improvement. Your culture of commitment needs to squeeze every last drop of ability out of them.
A Culture of Cohesion
As I say in Soccer Brain – “Great teams think together, predict together, and move together. Individuals team when they see what each other see. When they know what each other knows. When they want what each other wants.”
That in essence is teaming. And as coach it is your duty and responsibility to get it right.
Of course this is tough. You start with a plethora of players with different needs, wants, dreams, hopes, doubts, cultures – and they’re just to start with! This kaleidoscope of characteristics is what probably makes coaching such a tough profession or hobby.
Not only do you need to develop a team of individuals with shared tactics, but you also need to build shared mindsets. And this starts on the pitch with you. It doesn’t begin and end in the pub over a beer or on an assault course. It begins and ends in training with your presence and with your voice. It begins with shape and pattern. It begins with team goals, shared voices and common goals. That is where cohesion begins and ends.
So there we have it – cultures of creativity, confidence, commitment and cohesion. I can’t wait to see how Giggs gets on. I can’t wait to hear how you get on – both are equally as important – because both you and Ryan Giggs are working with people – and no matter who they are, how much they make or where they come from – in coaching everyone counts!