A 'player's game'...?

One of the pieces of conventional wisdom regarding coaching soccer is that it is a "player's game." That events on the field are largely dictated by the level of player's, and that it is so free-flowing and random that it's not worth attempting to intervene, and some may even actively discourage any type of coaching from the sideline or during an exercise.

I am firmly opposed to this idea, and as a coach, I am very proactive and energetic during both trainings and games. I believe that a good coach should be able to read the events of a game, and relay appropriate instructions to players. During training, I believe it is the coach's responsibility to establish a style of play to provide the team with an identity, along with insuring performance standards are met.

In the first part of the following video, I stepped away during the team's warmup rondo to discuss an exercise with my assistant coach. This is not an uncommon occurrence at trainings of every level, from youth to pro. Predictably, the mood was very relaxed, and the quality was extremely low. Upon my return, and with an active presence, the level predictably rose.

Of course context is crucial when evaluating this scenario: with seasoned pros, or even a mid-level club team with the appropriate culture, the level may not differ in this type of exercise whether the coach is present or not.

The question coaches need to ask themselves is: what's happening when we aren't watching? What am I missing? And of course the next logical step in this line of questions... What do I want to see?