As Coaches I think we all have our favourite little phrases that we use often with our players. I would like to share with you the continuing evolution of one of my phrases. I am going to go right back to when I started so please forgive some of the now obvious mistakes.
You may not agree but I think players rarely make poor decisions when they play. More often they make the best decision they can based on the limited information they took in. If, at training, I stop a game and recreate the situation then ask a player to look at everything and decide what to do invariably they come up with better decisions than the one they made.
I feel the problem is often more about the gathering of the relevant information rather than the decision making itself. Of course what I am talking about is a player simply looking around them and making a decision based on what they see and how much time they have to do it.
This blog is about the evolution of phrases I have used to get players to take in as much information as possible when they play.
I am embarrassed to say I started with the old favourite ‘stop ball watching’ but like many before me and since I neglected to actually tell the players what to I wanted them to do or even what I meant by ‘ball watching’. Thankfully no players ever took this literally and never looked at the ball.
Next I moved on to ‘check your shoulder’ and this time I did explain this was so you could see what was behind you and the only change involved there for a while was I changed it to ‘check your shoulders’.
Then I changed it to ‘Scan’ because I felt players needed to know more than just what was behind them and for me scan sounds like a word that means take in a 360 degree view.
The next change was asking the players to ‘Scan & Plan’ because I wanted them to realise they were scanning about them so they could make a decision on what to do next. I still use this phrase but I have now given it some more detail.
First detail I added was what the players should look for when they scan. I was at a coaching conference and the guest coach mentioned he likes players to look for 4 things. It struck me I had been asking players to scan/check shoulders/not ball watch for years but never made it clear or defined in my mind what I wanted them to look for. Yes another one of those moments. My coaching seems to be littered with them.
The four things I now ask them to scan for are
1 – Ball
2 – Opposition
3 – Teammates/Target
4 – Space
Next while watching either a Dick Bate or John Allpress video on YouTube (sorry not sure who it was) I realised I wasn’t giving any guidance on when to scan so I borrowed this
Scan when you think the ball is coming near you
Scan when you know the ball is coming to you
& if you can scan when it is on its way
A more recent addition was about the plan part when I realised that I only referred to what decision the players could make when the ball got to them. This meant I was completely ignoring a vital part of receiving the ball the players positioning themselves to their advantage before the ball arrived.
The latest detail is that I now ask players to Scan & Plan when their team is not in possession just as much as when their team is in possession. Previously it was something that was heavily weighted towards when their team was in possession.
I would love to hear from other Coaches about how I can further evolve my coaching about players scanning and planning or about phrases they use to get players to look around them.
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Look forward to hearing from you
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Till next time