“A leader who is through learning is through. And so is the team such a leader leads.” -John Wooden
We spend a lot of time talking about player development but none of this would be possible without our coaches and trainers. To learn more about the topic of coach education and coach development we reached back out to Coach Kevin Donovan. Kevin is not only the Director of Coaching for community club Worthington United he is also an USSF Licensed Level 2 Instructor who leads local coaching courses for “Grassroots” and “D” Licenses.
Kevin shared with us this quote from John Wooden “A leader who is through learning is through. And so is the team such a leader leads.” He expanded by saying “This statement applies to all walks of life: your profession, your marriage, being a parent, and certainly to being a coach. Typically people want to improve upon the things that are important to them. As a coach, if you no longer desire to get better at your craft then you are probably better suited to step away from that role altogether. We ask our players to get better each season, each game, each practice session. If we as coaches are not pushing ourselves to do the same then we are hypocrites.”
Every coach doesn’t need a coaching license:
This statement is contrary to the statements I’ve previously made on this page. It's contrary to my whole previous school of thought around this topic, but like our players I am evolving as a soccer parent.
As I learn more about player development, levels of play and all of the varied needs we have as a soccer community I’ve come to understand that just like all of the various levels of players and programming we need a mix of volunteers, trainers and coaches committed to our players.
The most important characteristic in all coaches at every level is the desire to learn and grow as a coach. Coach Kevin adds “...credentials are less important than the constant pursuit of coaching education/development. Yes, certainly getting a license from the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) or United Soccer Coaches, or LaLiga Formation Methodology, etc., helps to bolster your resume, but more so in that it demonstrates your commitment to improving as a coach.” He pointed out that some of the best coaches in our communities have little more than a D License, but they are “constantly reading, or consuming coaching articles, insight and content.”
Conversely, some highly educated coaches with advanced licensing are shocking when they interact with players because of this Kevin concluded “It can be hard to take those credentials at face value. What coaching credentials do show is a commitment to your craft, and typically the higher your license/credential, the more time/money/energy you have invested into improving as a coach.”
“You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By becoming a little better each and every day, over a period of time, you will become a lot better” - John Wooden
Progressive coaching and a growth mindset:
To explain his insights on growth mindset and progressive coaching Coach Kevin introduced us to Kolb’s Learning Theory and shared with us another quote by John Wooden “You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By becoming a little better each and every day, over a period of time, you will become a lot better.” As a coaching educator Coach Kevin uses Kolb’s Learning Circle which is the cycle of experience, reflection, development and application. “Coaches should spend time reflecting on how they are doing as a coach; after a practice session, after a game, after a conversation with a player. What went well, what could have been done or messaged better, and then being intentional about how to address where they feel they fell short.Then you make adjustments and repeat that cycle all over again. The modern world does not stay in one place for very long, so if coaches do they will quickly be left behind.”
Things are changing quickly in our modern game. Technology is making it easier than ever to learn about the game but also for players, parents and coaches to always be developing and learning as we work to stay ahead. Progressive coaching not only requires experience and reflection but completing the circle by finding outlets for development and applying those lessons.
There are endless coaching apps and coaching resources available for coaches of all levels. Following their social media feeds is a way to keep up on new developments and trends. Coach Kevin shared “MOJO, Touchtight Coach, Keepitonthedeck, Coaches Plan, The Coaches Voice, are some Twitter channels I follow to name a few.”
Coach Kevin’s role in coaching education:
Coach Kevin is the Director of Coaching for a local club, a high school head coach, as well as a licensed instructor for the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). “My end goal is to see the game of soccer get better in our country, our state, our city and in our local communities. The best thing I can do to grow the game is to share my passion for the game with the people around me. I am fortunate enough to have a full-time job in soccer, and the opportunity to positively affect a large number of coaches, which in turn means a larger number of players.” He shared that his hope is “that those soccer people I interact with, in time, (will) share my love for the game and want to improve their ability as a coach, as a player, and so on.” He continued by saying “People who have a love for the sport, who can relate to and teach others in our sport, and who also have some level of competency in the game can have an exponential impact. I want to help create more people in our community that meet that criteria.”
Resources for coaches of all levels:
Kevin shared with us four organizations providing coaching education. Each organization takes a different approach to coach education. Kevin shared that all of these organizations “are doing great things on the coach education front. They all have a different approach from one another, and I don’t believe any of them are inherently right or better than the other.” He encourages coaches by saying “The important thing is that coaches find a pathway that suits their learning style, and also what they want to get out of the game and in their career as a coach.”