Can you help

When I was 16 I got a ‘B’ in my French O Level at school which I was quite pleased about. In my early 20’s I spent 3 weeks in France and I was no better at speaking to the locals than my girlfriend who had never done a French lesson in her life.

However, my girlfriend had Dutch parents who although by the time I met her rarely if ever spoke Dutch at home did so quite a bit when she was little she told me. When we were in the Netherlands for 3 weeks within a few hours she was able to hold conversations with her relatives and by the end of the stay was chatting away comfortably.

Why am I telling you this?

Well I can see lots of parallels with coaching football.

I had done 4 years of French at school with the volcanic Miss Black but it was proving useless to me when I was actually in France needing to speak French. For me to impress my girlfriend I was going to have to bump into someone called Mr Bertillon who had forgotten to wear his watch and wanted to know the time so desperately he was prepared to ask a tourist. To really cap it off Mr Bertillon would have to be prepared to stand there while I asked him “where is the train station”or my personal favourite “where is the library” although I probably wouldn’t have understood any of his answers.

My girlfriend on the other hand had never had a ‘proper’ education in Dutch. She had simply been in an environment where Dutch was spoken.

The parallel comes from the current debate about whether a proper education in football involves a sizeable amount of time spent doing drills or isolated technical practices compared to a games based method of training.

Just so you know I am a firm believer in learning how to play football with as many elements of the actual game involved as possible.

Now the reason I am writing this blog is I feel I keep finding ways to back up the fact I prefer games based training. I have even managed to see a trip around Europe in the late 80’s as proof it works.

What I would like is to hear from Coaches or read articles that have the opposite view.

Could anyone point me towards articles or studies that challenge my current thinking. It would be most appreciated as I feel all I do is read articles that back up what I think and so may simply be looking in the wrong places.

Love to hear from you

As always please leave a comment or email me

Or follow me on Twitter @SeanDArcy66

Till next time


8 thoughts on “Can you help

  1. Hi Sean,

    Been enjoying your insights on the blog. I thought I might send something back to you since this is something that I’ve been doing plenty of thinking about recently and I’ve been enjoying discussing.

    I’m also finding it difficult to find many opinions that challenge the movement towards game based training. I think that there are many, many examples in the football community where a games based method is not employed and it is reasonable that many coaches and people around the game are trying to change this hence more articles/blogs/writings/musings re: game based training methods (not a bad thing tbh).

    My opinion is simply that everything that is in coaching is a tool box including isolated practices and drills as well as game based training. As long as there is balance and the players are engaged and can transfer skills and technique to games then I see no problem. There is a time and a place for everything if used appropriately and can only benefit players by exposing them to many different aspects of football.

    In terms of your analogy it is one thing to be able to casually speak to people in another language but to be proficient you still need to learn and practice reading and writing, and understand the formal grammar of a language to truly be adept. I can speak of this from my experience growing up with Cantonese being spoken around me – while I can casually converse with my family, my vocabulary is limited and my reading and writing of Chinese is practically nonexistent!

    One person who has interested me in this regard is Romeo Jozak, current technical director of the Croatian Football Federation. He has spoken about the use of “dynamic and functional technique” in order to progress elite players – plenty of inteviews and articles with him from searches on Google.

    One of the most interesting things I’ve seen is his presentations at a NSCAA conference:

    To a certain extent grassroots guru Tom Byer is also an interesting person to follow in regards to the importance of practicing technique. However, Tom-san is probably more about promoting self-driven learning and practice outside of the training environment.

    Keep up the great work.


    • Brilliant. I will try to look up Romeo Jazak to see what he has written.
      I did look through I think the Croatian B Licence Manual with someone who was translating it for me. Felt it looked a lot like the old English FA stuff from the 80’s.


    • I have seen clips of Romeo before but didn’t initially recognise the name. I watched the first clip you sent a link and I found it quite hard to watch.
      The players didn’t look to be enjoying the session much and in my opinion then will probably get little out of it.
      I agree with your thinking that probably a mixture of both isolated and games based could be the best way.
      I suppose there are two questions that remain from the clip I saw. Romeo said the game is eventually the best teacher I would have liked to have heard more about that such as when is eventually as you can keep making isolated practices more and more difficult to almost any extent so at what point do you allow the game to be part of your coaching.
      The other is using the game as a teacher doesn’t really mean go and play and you will get better. You can correct technique inside a game as well. Or you can create games that mean only good technique will bring success the majority of the time.
      I follow Tom Byer on Twitter so have seen lots about him before.


    • Had a look at it and yes it was very interesting. I don’t think it questions a games based approach I thought it questioned the ‘just them play’ and they will get better approach.
      I tend to agree.
      With the younger ages (U6 – U9) at the club I wouldn’t say they are coached but they are guided when they play to get maximum benefit for the time we have them.
      I can think of a number of times I have thought without some intervention this child would not improve or would not attempt a new movement.
      Thanks for sending.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it does question a games based approach, but only in that solely a games based approach isn’t comprehensive enough. Perhaps I’m approaching this from a PE perspective rather than a Coach perspective though. That there isn’t a right or wrong approach, but the decision making on the best one for learning at that moment at time, with those children in that context.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The PE Playbook – October 2016 Edition – drowningintheshallow

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