“I wrote a document that never is going to be published. It is my “training dossier”, where I keep all my training guidelines. That is, all my training goals and the way to achieve them through my methodological principles”
Any minimal amount of investigation on the internet will lead you to a document of Jose Mourinho’s first team drills that were supposedly mastered by all players playing in the Chelsea first team. In the quote above, Mourinho is clearly referencing more than just “drills”. The important point to see, however, is that he is a master coach who has continually developed his coaching goals, methods, and activities over the course of his career. Similarly, legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, worked on improving his coaching methods and practices each summer before the start of a new season. The goal of Teacher in Shorts is to help coaches who are interested in evolving their own practice, genuinely reflect for the purpose of self-improvement in a way similar to that of master coaches Mourinho and Wooden.
The Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule has been well documented in the work of best selling authors Tim Ferriss and Doug Lemov. Lemov uses a great soccer example, but let’s take this concept and apply it specifically to the activities that a coach decides to use in training. Coaches (like teachers) are notorious in begging for, borrowing, and stealing the material that they use. Even more true today, in a time when coaches can access more drills and activities than ever before. We know that through their own experiences and various other sources, coaches have access to a multitude of coaching activities. One can even argue that there is so much content, that coaches today are in danger of being “distracted” from activities that are really important. How many coaches are truly using their set of personal activities to their advantage in an efficient way? The tool, Personal Coaching Bible is a word document modeled after the aforementioned Mourinho drills that asks you to create your own “coaching bible” by identifying the 20 training activities that will produce 80-90% of the desired soccer outcomes for the given group you are working with.
Sounds simple enough, right? Define the top training activities you have in your arsenal, that will teach your most important training objectives. In other words, if you were limited in choosing your training activities, which would make the cut? As Ferriss states, “simplicity requires ruthlessness”.
Choosing to include an activity in your “coaching bible” is a reflection in of itself that helps you to better define your coaching craft. Irregardless of where you are at on your own coaching journey, it is a useful investment of time to put some thought in to this area as a coach. It could take on the form of simply listing the activities you would choose on a piece of scratch paper (who has the time to put them in to a document, right?). If it is something that you choose to genuinely take on and find difficult, embrace the difficulty as improvement (that is the point), and possibly use the DiSSS approach from Tim Ferriss to make it more manageable.
Similar to the Mourinho first team drills, a coach can easily access the famous Pill’s Drills online which were developed by US Soccer staff coach Jeff Pill. This is another example of a master coach who has developed a set of activities that work to teach players specific training objectives and help them get closer to the mastery of important concepts. Having had the privilege to watch Coach Pill run numerous sessions, it is immediately very apparent that there is much more going on in his coaching mastery than just having the “activity”. Another coach could run the same activity with the same players and the results would differ. The success of teaching comes not only from the activity itself, but also a host of other factors that the coach simultaneously integrates into their work. These other factors will be the subject of future posts and tools.
“But after a while your coaching development ceases to be about finding newer ways to organize practice. In other words, you soon stop collecting drills. Your development as a coach shifts to observing how the great ones motivate, lead, or drive players to performance at higher and higher levels.”
-Anson Dorrance- Excerpt taken from Training Soccer Champions