One of my main passions as a football psychologist is to help our industry move forward by helping coaches become better at the psycho-social aspect of developing players. I believe all soccer coaches need to be psycho-social coaches. In this article English FA Skills coach Dom Edwards talks about a model of coaching that he is learning, developing and using with young up and coming players.
Coaching is a humanistic process and therefore it is about people and I believe that if we are to develop as coaches we must be able to justify why we work in the manner that we do. Therefore, researching coaching and understanding various strategies should be becoming more and more important to modern coaches.
If we want to meet our principle aim of developing the person then we must create sessions that allow the learner to explore and understand the process of learning. One way in which to do this is to use the ‘Cognitive Acceleration’ (CA) approach. This blog entry will try to offer a brief explanation of the approach and answer how it can be useful within our roles as coaches.
The CA Approach
CA is an approach that has been used in schools for lessons such as science or maths, however there is not a reason to suggest that we cannot set our football sessions up in the same way. A science lesson for example offers problems to solve and the opportunity to experiment and record/share ideas. If this is the way learning is developed within education then we as coaches must be able to recognise the importance of the method within sport.
CA recognises there are stages in intellectual development and that we must transition from concrete thinking (facts and descriptions) to abstract thinking (any thinking which involves a mental process such as explaining ideas).
It requires a mediator (in our case a coach) to ask questions that allow guided self-discovery. A mediator however could also be a child within the group as it may be effective between peers to promote ideas and allow them to have ownership over their own learning.
Structuring a CA Session
A potential session structure to develop abstract thinking may be as follows…
After reading the above structure of a CA lesson/session you may be asking ‘So what does this mean to us as coaches?’
The answer is that through an understanding of using this method we can develop the future player who not only understands football as a game but can also understand their own learning and are able to articulate their ideas in a positive manner. To many, particularly those coaches who work within the grassroots, developing players who are good learners is a very worthwhile skill to teach.
In my next blog post I will share an example of a session plan focusing on how to develop the players understanding of attacking using the cognitive acceleration approach. With a justification of why I used the particular technique at that given time to meet my goal of developing the child as a player but also as a learner.
Any questions/comments or if you have tried this approach: @domiedwards
Dom Edwards is an English FA Skills Coach based in Cornwall, England