Blog post – Michael Richardson, Owner & Academy Director of M.R.F.A.
I am fortunate enough to have spent a number of years (20 to be exact!) working in the professional game, both as a player and now as a coach. As a mid-twenties coach, that is a huge chunk of my life. The people that coached me as a young player have shaped me to be the person I am today, both as a coach – but more importantly, as a person. These coaches inspired me from a young age and ultimately, I feel like I was destined to take this career path.
As I have been fortunate to learn from other quality coaches, I wanted to share some tips for young coaches starting out, or even those more experienced to think about.
As a player, I was coached by Tony Hume (ex-Colchester Manager), Richard Hall (assistant to Tony Hume), Steve Greaves (FA Coach Educator), and Andy Edwards (who now works for England at youth level). When I think back to these days, I truly did listen to every word that they had to say. I was always thinking about the sessions delivered and the benefit it had on me as an individual and the wider team.
I remember a meeting with Andy when I was still only 17 and his words were “you will be a coach one-day." Eight years later, he got it spot on.
We all know how important this is, but do we really understand the impact it can have on our sessions? As coaches, we are challenged to achieve 70% BRT in all sessions, which can be tough, even for those with experience. Why is it so important? Place yourself in the shoes of your players; why do they come to training? To play football. The theory and explanations of the game are important, of course, but it's important to find the right balance between them both to keep players engaged and consistently learning throughout.
Everyone reading this will be able to remember their favourite teacher at school; why? Simple, their enthusiasm for the lesson they taught made you love every minute – spent in the class or outside. Almost in its entirety, it's the reason we at M.R.F.A. live by the vision of "Using sport to change lives." I personally owe a huge amount to sport and football in general for the person I am today – and as someone teaching others. It's hugely important to remember this when teaching young players. Sport is their passion and their drive – and it's fun!
Leading me nicely to the next point; why did I like the teacher/coach if it wasn't for tip number 2? It was because they had so much knowledge that I wanted to absorb. During the two years that I was a Youth Team player, I learnt so much about my game and how I could be better, and that was all down to the expert knowledge from my coach. Don't go onto a field of eager players without taking the time to prepare beforehand – it's important to know your game, how exactly your session is going to run and what you want the outcomes for your players to be.
Concluding thoughts – there is so much more I could put down here for young aspiring coaches reading this, but as a starting point, these points will hopefully help make your sessions memorable for the players you are coaching.
Thanks for taking the time to have a read. We would love to hear from you if there are any other topics you would like to read.