Do players develop better without a coach than with a coach?

Do players develop better without a coach than with a coach?

This question is provocative, almost outrageous.

How can players without a coach develop better than players with a coach? Besides, we do such good training that the players automatically have to learn something and get better, right?

We came across a study from the school sector that led us to this question. Prof. Sugata Mitra (Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences) from the University of Newcastle investigated the question of how far learning can go - without a teacher - and whether children can develop through self-organized learning alone be able to acquire the basics of the school subject of molecular biology using a computer and without external help.

For this purpose, a computer with a learning program on molecular biology was installed in the marketplace in the Indian slum of Karnataka. The children received a short introduction in which the experimenter told the children about “interesting results” that could be achieved with the help of the computer. The children in the village then dealt with the computer independently and looked for the “interesting results” in the learning program.

The first results from this study were shown after 75 days. The experimental group, which consisted of 34 of approximately 100 children in this village, delivered an incredible result. In a multiple-choice test, the experimental group far exceeded the level of students of the same age at a neighboring village school where the subject of molecular biology is taught. They have also reached the level of children at least two years older than them in a rural school where the subject has been taught for some time.

Prof. Mitra then immediately pursued another question: What significance do adults have as “friendly mediators” in the children’s learning process? To do this, in another 75 days he brought in a person who was not the students' teacher and had no specialist knowledge of the subject. The task of the “friendly mediator” was to ask important and motivating questions, then to withdraw and limit himself to encouraging and praising the children for their results:

“Why do we breathe and what happens to the air we breathe?”

“How did you find out?”

“I wish I could do what you can do.

At the end of the second phase, Prof. Mitra was able to present the following result: The students in the experimental group achieved a level of performance that corresponds to students of the same age in a well-equipped private urban school and far exceeds the level of the students at least two years older in the neighboring village subject is taught.

What does that mean for us coaches?

Players used to be able to develop freely at “Bolt” without anyone calling in and demanding how certain things had to be implemented. Through successes and failures, players were able to quickly determine which actions worked and which didn't. Self-experimentation, failure and victories have created multifaceted experiences.

Today we coaches give the players less and less freedom to develop their own patterns of action and demand solutions developed by us. In the future, we coaches must give our players more freedom again in order to develop the football field mentality and individuality of future generations of players that many demand.

This does not mean that you accompany the training without paying a contribution. Quite the opposite:

If you have a clear idea of ​​“your” football game, you can use open questions to get your players to reflect, question their solutions and develop new ideas.

“Why did you choose this pass and not dribbling?”

“What would have been another solution?”

“How did you do that exactly?”

As a coach, you are the mediator with a clear goal of guiding your players in a certain direction without telling them anything! When they come up with new ideas, it increases their curiosity to try it out. Now you can also start experimenting yourself, trying out what leads to success and what leads to failure. In this way you bring the football field mentality back a bit and your players can develop freely.

To return to the initial question: Do players develop better without a coach?

The answer to this question is highly individual and depends on you as a trainer. I wish every player to have a coach who does not focus on himself and his desire for rigorous knowledge transfer, recognition and success, but rather on the long-term development of his players. I am of the opinion that we coaches need to be trained much better in communicating with players! Because through correctly chosen communication we can convey our gaming philosophy without prescribing it. Interesting questions that make you think, self-experiments, joint reflection, “independently” developed solutions and praise. These are things that are needed to spark curiosity about football. If they don't get that from you as a trainer, maybe "bolting" with friends is the better alternative.

So the crucial question is: Would your players develop better without you?

Sources: Mitra, Sugata, and Ritu Dangwal. “Limits to Self-organizing Systems of Learning—the Kalikuppam Experiment.” British Journal of Educational Technology 41, No. 5 (2010): 672–688. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01077.x

Author: Tammo Neubauer

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