Tuesday 7 March 2023

What Science Has to Offer the World of Coaching

It started, as these things always do, on Twitter. Someone posted a training drill they were excited about (kids kicking a ball against a wall) and I made a comment to suggest I didn't think this was the most football-useful activity I had ever seen. That's all I intended to say, but enough people (coaches, mainly) got mad at me that more was said, and it quickly devolved into the standard entrenched lines this argument lives between.

There were two related themes to the replies. The first was essentially 'how dare you'; apparently questioning a coach's practice crosses a line (I admit I had been a little snarky, but only a little, I promise!). I find this response quite hard to understand: if you share your practice then it seems fair to expect not everyone will love it, and some may have sound reasons to think it's a bad idea, and I think that should be ok. 

The second theme was then 'what makes you think you can comment?'. This one mostly showed up in the form of demanding to know how much coaching I had done, a question designed to get me to admit 'none' and allow them to simply dismiss my view as that of an ill-informed outsider. This one annoyed me more than the rest, so I wanted to explain how and why I, an academic non-coach, gets to be a part of the conversation around training activities. 

First, let's try to set a positive tone. I value the experience and understanding that coaches have by virtue of their practice. Of course this expertise places you in a key position in the conversation. All I want to develop here is some reasons why other people, including people like me, also get to take part in that conversation, because we have relevant expertise and things to contribute. So let's talk about what science and scientists have to offer to the discussion about training environments.