Former Rugby European Cup Winner and current Magic Academy Director discussed with Rush Soccer’s Developmental Director, Chris P., how we plan, perform and evaluate player centered sessions.
As part of our Monthly Educational Campaign on Player Centered Session Design, the newest episode of our Webinar Series -hosted by Chris P.- counted with the stellar presence of an expert on the subject: Russell Earnshaw. ‘Rusty’, who currently works on the Magic Academy, is a former Rugby player who won the European Cup and played for England and also worked for England Rugby and developed CARDS (Creativity, Awareness, Resilience, Decision Making, Self Organized) for the players.
‘What should Player Centered Sessions look like?‘ was the cornerstone on this fantastic interview. ‘Rusty’ explained how he spent a day shadowing a child to understand their perception and feelings around the daily activities. The conclusion? It was a really, really boring day. So, Russell came up with a simple, yet not always acknowledged concept: We must see sessions/lessons through children’s eyes.
“If we are really player centered, then why aren’t the children running lessons and sessions or at least being part of it?”Russell Earnshaw.
Self-Reflection concepts started to arise during the following minutes. How do we, as coaches, find out what are the players needs? Are we empathetic to their needs? Are we noticing, using pauses, replays and finding different things within the coaches tool box? “Behavioral change is what we are looking for“, Chris stated.
What challenges a player? Finding ways of supporting players in line with their needs, and changing the game to get the best out of that player by placing demands on the players that meet their needs. Those are our challenges as coaches.
What makes them wobble? Can we build in our planning what makes the player wobble (stressed out) and help him/her by co-creating coping mechanisms? Even with simple things, like pulling up socks or smiling! We want to be able to challenge players, but we need to be able to figure out ways to help them through those challenges. We can’t just put them in those hard situations and not know how to help them.
“Players will be as good as the problems we set them”.Danny Newcomb, quoted by ‘Rusty’.
“Are the coaches ready to release control -Chris P. wondered-, or will ego continually get in the way? We as coaches always want to show them what we know as opposed to meeting them at the bus stop as they are getting on and off at different stations”. We can squeeze every drop out of players by using whiteboards, which gives permissions for conversations to occur. We want more players thinking, developing themselves, coaches having better conversations and kids approaching to them.
Having an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and finding questions that help connect players to coaches and coaches find out where the players are will be helpful. As coaches we have to know who is in front of us and it is our job to know what they are motivated by. We can teach motivation by involving players in the session. A few examples: Putting different numbers on the ball and making those goals worth more, or using one ball like the golden snitch that wins the game! We can also assign players secret missions in line with their IDP and see what they accomplish with this. There are infinite options and new ways to connect and motivate our players, wouldn’t you agree?