Throughout the lockdown period coaches have been challenged to be creative when working with their players not only online but also when working with individuals and small groups too. In this blog, we are going to explore the benefits of one on one coaching and how it can help players but also what some of the challenges can be too.

One to One Coaching provides you with an opportunity to give an individual an experience where they are at the centre of the session and solely focus on their development and learning to provide them with bespoke work to meet their needs. As a result, you are able to build a relationship with that person as they know that you are solely focused on them and helping them to develop. Also it provides you with a great opportunity to get to know that player off the pitch too by informal conversations about other areas that may not link solely to football. Below we have outlined 5 benefits of one to one coaching and why you may consider it when working with your players:

1. Understanding and Evaluating the Player – The initial session or first few sessions with any player will provide you with an opportunity to gain a better understanding of who they are as a person but also as a player. What are they looking for from the sessions? Are they looking to boost their confidence or need to be challenged or stretch further? By speaking with the player about what they want from these sessions and what their objectives are, you will be able to tailor everything to meet their needs. In turn, this will help to build a connection between the work that they’re doing in your sessions and also how it will benefit them. As you begin your sessions with the player, you will begin to understand what they are best at and also what they need to improve. Depending on the players objectives, coaches should be encouraged not to focus on solely what the player needs to improve. People and players love doing what they are best at and one to one coaching sessions are a great way of enhancing their skills to improve their strongest attributes.

2. A Tailored Approach – Once you have a greater understanding of what the player wishes to achieve but also from your evaluations how you feel you can support them in developing as a player, now it is time to start thinking about how you will tailor the sessions to them. In order to do this, here are some considerations that you make wish to keep in mind:

  • How old is the player?
  • What is their football experience?
  • Do they have a position?
  • What is their objective?
  • What are they best at?
  • What do they need to improve?

It is essential that you don’t solely focus on the technical corner in these sessions. When approaching your sessions, evaluate the player across the four corners and begin to look at physically, socially, psychologically and technically/tactically what they need. Tailoring these sessions by considering the four corners are a great way to help you design sessions that help them across multiple aspects rather than just one area.

3. Building a Connection – Through evaluating the player and also speaking with them on what they feel they wish to improve on, you will begin to be able to build a connection not only to the work that you are delivering but also between the coach and the player as well. This connection will help you to stretch and challenge the player as they know the work that you are providing for them is solely to their own benefit. Throughout your sessions, continue to make reference to why the session is relevant to them but also get their feedback. Is there anything they really enjoyed? Anything they feel really challenged them? Anything they would like to work on differently or in the next session? The player will continually be reflecting on their own performances in training and games and may come back with new things that they want to improve or work on. If they don’t, that’s fine too. Continue to stick with what you have set out to work on and continually review it. As time progresses, you will find that you are not just a coach now but instead a mentor.

4. Check and Challenge – Checking your players understanding can be done by them showing but also by them explaining too. As you progress in your sessions, it’s important that you as a coach are continually assessing whether you are meeting the needs of that player but also whether they’re improving. An example may be them using their left foot. If you begin to see progress in this area in your sessions, use positive reinforcement to highlight the brilliant progress that they have made and then ask them, have you used this in your games etc? How a player appears to be developing in your sessions may be different to when they are in other environments, so if you manage to see progression with yourself in a particular area make sure that you are continually checking and challenging them to take this into their game when in other environments too.

5. Inspiring Them to Achieve – One to One coaching sessions are a great way of positively reinforcing the progress a player is making but also what they are best at too. If delivered in the right way, one to one coaching sessions are a great way to help build the confidence of a player and ignite their enthusiasm to learn and improve.

One to One coaching also has it’s challenges as you’re not working with the player in the team environment. With the reduction of players, traffic and game related opportunities to coach in your sessions, it is very difficult to provide players with the same type of sessions that you can with a team that help to develop their ability to make decisions in different scenarios both with and without a ball. Contextualising your work will have some benefits by relating it back to certain parts of the pitch or different situations that they may face in a game. However you will be limited in one to one sessions from exposing players to what they will get from in a team environment.

A great way of approaching any ‘constant’ practices that you may provide for your players (see previous blog) will be to look at the before, during and after of any practice that you are providing. For example, if you are working with a player on receiving on their back foot:

Before – What is their movement before they receive the ball? What are they moving off i.e. a trigger? The ball moving? A pass being played?

During – As the ball is travelling towards them how are they adjusting their body to receive on their back foot? Are they scanning and if so, what do they see and where are they looking to play?

After – After they have received on their back foot, what will their next action be? Will it be a pass, a shot, a dribble etc?

When looking at your practice design in your sessions try to apply the above to each practice. Create practices where players are going to have to make decisions based on what happens before they perform the skill, what happens during them performing the skills and what is the outcome after they have performed the skill. This principle to your practice design can be applied to any skill.

For more information and examples of one to one coaching, be sure to sign up for the ISP on the site: https://footballdna.co.uk/isp/

The ‘Individual Skills Programme’ provides players and coaches with a whole range of different individual challenges. On the site there are Over 100 individual challenge videos across 6 skill categories divided into three levels. Designed for players to practice and test themselves on their own, the ISP has been developed by our team of professional coaches. The main benefit is players can improve their technical ability in a small amount of space with limited equipment needed. Players complete the challenges and log every single one to unlock levels with trophies being displayed on their own ISP profile page.