||An explanation of some of the science and psychology that lies behind the success of “Player Focus Coaching”
By Merfyn Roberts
Player Focused Coaching develops the role of the coach in empowering players in decision making. Coaches who are prepared to give involvement and ownership to the players can develop the skill of decision making in those players.
Recent research on how the brain learns shows that the most effective decision making takes place in the neo-cortex; the thinking, calculating part of the brain. Unfortunately, before reaching the neo-cortex the messages to the brain can be hijacked by the limbic system where the emotional aspects are dominant. Through Player Focused Coaching the connections in the brain can be enhanced to allow the neo-cortex, thinking part to dominate the limbic, emotional part thus facilitating more effective decision making.
The application of this Player Focused Coaching will have three positive impacts:
- Correct decision making results in improved self-discipline both on and off the pitch. Giving the players a genuine voice empowers them. This reduces the chances that a player will be intimidated by match situations, parents, supporters, opponents, etc. The player will be in control. A coach whose style dominates the players can also result in intimidating situations.
- Applying the skill of decision making in a game situation produces more effective players. In the last minute of a cup-tie the player is through on goal; the player needs their neo-cortex to dominate to allow the practiced technique to come through. If the connections haven’t been developed the limbic, emotional part will take over with predictable results.
- The coach as role model is key here particularly when dealing with stressful situations: “The only person’s behavior we can control is our own”. The coach has to match their behavior management with their coaching style. The impact of an open Player Focused Coaching style is diminished if the coach’s behavior management approach is not also Player Focused. The skills for such an approach to behavior management can be learnt and often build upon current good practice. When players and coach are tuned in to the same attitude the sessions are more fun. Adoption of such an approach guarantees less behavior problems leaving everyone more relaxed.
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