Technique and Tactics aren’t the only things in the playbook

Allow me to strong arm you here. Do you think because you know about systems, shape and patterns of play (maybe all of them in the play book) that you are a great coach? Do you think because you have a folder full of drills for every specific situation encountered on the pitch you are an accomplished coach? Note: I recently worked at a professional football club where a coach proudly showed me a crammed folder full of drills.

He was the same coach who refused to inform one of his senior players that he wouldn’t be playing the following week and failed to give the player an explanation why. He immediately lost the trust and confidence of that player. Who cares about his folder full of drills!?! Technique and tactics aren’t the only things in the coach’s playbook! I cannot deny that they are your fundamentals. A coach without a sound knowledge of these elements of the game is not a coach at all.


But ‘knowing’ is not ‘doing’ especially when the ‘doing’ part is an art and not an exact science. In coaching it is the brush strokes that mediate success not the palette itself. Tactical genius only travels so far. Knowing what changes to make at any given moment during a game is a must-have skill, but if the management of mindsets and the development of a coaching culture conducive to excellence is beyond the coach then the tactics board will have less impact.

Likewise an eye for developing technical wizardry helps build the modern player machine but helping footballers combine the technical skills to cope with the tightest and toughest of plays requires player buy-in and group confidence. Quite simply the coaching of technique and tactics in football are built on a foundation of mindset and culture. Let me explain.

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Coaches adhering to these philosophies deliver students of the game – they are enablers of a great learning mentality. Similarly, player competence is underpinned by individual confidence – a mental quality that coaches drive through patience, repetition, reinforcement, re-appraisal and relationship. Furthermore, coaches who apply techniques to develop player focus and distraction management help players perform under pressure.