Some have the spatial awareness of a Johan Cruyff, knowing instinctively where to run and when, even in the most complicated drill. Others are like a character in a Samuel Beckett novel. They don’t know where they are, much less why they are there; any request to move results in futile chaos.
Starting out as a coach can be an intimidating experience. Irrespective of how illustrious your playing career was, if at all.
The metamorphosis from player to coach is not always simple and seamless. Faced with a sack full of balls, a stack of cones and a group of enthusiastic adults or children, I’ve seen terror strike the most self-confident and enthusiastic gael. It needn’t always be thus.
Now, thanks to Elevate Sports Solutions, help is at hand in an easily usable deck of coaching cards that can help any coach run a well planned and effective session, whether they are a beginner or an experienced bainisteoir.
There are many courses now for coaches run by provincial councils, county boards, colleges and so on. Much more than there used to be. But still, learning for yourself how to run a session that is well planned and well executed can be daunting.
There is information out there on the Internet, the difficulty is knowing what to use and what not to use. Things like what equipment to use, how long to run drills for etc; who runs where and who ends up where. When you try to replicate in training what you have read or seen can be tricky.
Elevate have this fairly well cracked in this excellent product. The cards come in a robust package, well branded and designed. The pack includes 52 coaching cards, and a number of explanatory cards, slightly larger in size than the standard set of playing cards you’d see at the rear of any self respecting teambus. They are action packed with detail, user friendly and produced to a high standard.
Any coach from basic beginner to All Ireland winner can pluck the pack from their pocket for an instant training session.
Designer Donal Leahy was motivated to create his cards when after returning to gaelic football after an absence of years, he realised he had difficulty remembering what exactly he was supposed to be doing.
His idea, supported by an easily accessible and highly usable mobile phonie App for iPhone and Android devices provides a very valuable coaching resource for any standard of coach. I found myself engrossed in reading through the various drills and routines. Some were familiar, others less so. As someone who has been coaching for many years it is an immediate thumbs up to find new ideas.
The pack is handily colour coded into four suites covering passing, skills, defending and attacking. Each card sets out how to run a specific drill. It includes a graphic illutsrating the ideal layout of players, marker coners, goals etc; the main coaching points to be emphasised (I’ll come back to this as it is a fundamental point of coaching in my opinion); the specific quipment required to run the drill or game, typically this includes the number of participants and also crucially, the number of footballs! Finally each card has suggestions on how to change, condition and develop each drill if required.
The first question I posed to myself when I opened the cards is how exactly would I use these. For every session I am taking I plan out the session in fine detail so I have a printed sheet with me for reference and timings etc.
Having the Coaching cards does not remove the need to plan a session in advance. It may be the case the the coach might bring say six or eight cards to training have planned the session in advance, able to use the cards to jog the memory.
If several coaches are involved, each having their own cards, each coach can literally work from the same sheet. It can help a group of coaches with a large squad split their charges into smaller groups, each working a specific routine. Whatever the choice there is sufficient flexibility for any number of quality sessions.
The cards themselves are reasonably robust but how they would stand up to a good soaking tucked into pocket remains to be seen. I have taken to inserting my coaching sheets into Poly Pockets to keep them dry during a session. There’s nothing worse than going to check your notes and pulling a clump of porridge from the jacket.
I would certainly not recommend turning up at a session, whippng out your cards for a game of dealer’s choice and running the session from there. The cards are very helpful in planning and executing a session, they are not a replacement for preparation. That is because some of the drills are very straightforward, others are advanced, requiring several reads through as instructions are very detailed. If they are read in advance, you will have at your fingertips everything you need to know on running a particular drill. This is not a criticism, it means the material is pitched at the right level.
As mentioned earlier, the specific coaching points are an invaluable addition. Sometimes you can watch fellas running a session and it is clear that they have borrowed the idea but don’t know the point of it. That means that they cannot correct weaknesses, bad technique or poor decision making.
I showed the cards round several friends. One is a ladies football coach just starting, She wanted them there and then. Another, a senior championship winning coach was highly impressed. A third, one of our underage coaches wanted to know where he could buy them.
The answer is go to www.elevatesports.co.uk/home/. The cards are priced £14.99. Initially coaches may recoil but in reality this is cheap. It is a the cost of a decent Sports book and it provides drills that will keep you going for a long while to come. You can opt for the phone App at the same price which has sime funky functionality. You can download a trial version yourself and get planning those sessions.
Elevate have raised the delivery of coaching resources to a new level with this innovative and handy coaching resource. I look forward to their next bright idea.