Technique Without Direction is an Empty Shell
Rowden Fullen (2003)
Many coaches seem to spend most of their lives focusing on the technical side. Sound technique in itself is a worthwhile aim but of course not the be all and end all – indeed many coaches do not seem to know where to go next after the technical phase is coming to an end as it surely does. In fact one aspect which most top coaches in Europe do agree on, is that the technical development should be completed by around last year cadet or at latest first year junior.
Technique of course forms the basis for the evolution of tactics and ultimately of style development. Unfortunately bad or incorrectly developed techniques can cripple the player’s future progress as he or she does not have the right tools to execute the required tactics or to fully cultivate the chosen style.
Good technique is nice, to be effective is better, to understand how you perform at your best and get optimum results is best of all. Each player has to understand how he or she wins as an individual and all individuals are different. It should therefore appear to be fairly obvious that direction along the right path for you the player is of some importance and that this needs close contact with coaches and other members of your support team and some considerable and on-going discussion. You the player must also have an input and in some aspects of coaching this should be more pronounced than others – for example only you know whether you feel comfortable or not with the way you play or how positive or aggressive you will choose to be under pressure.
Nor is there as some National Coaches seem to think ‘a style of play’ to which our players must conform if they wish to reach top level. This is a recipe for disaster for we start to move players away from areas where they have a natural talent and often into areas where they will only ever be mediocre. It is the natural talents of the player which we must direct into the appropriate channels for his or her style, so that the individual player realises full potential. We cannot effectively force players into styles of our choosing.
The content and method of training of players, especially girl players, assume rather more importance than we may have initially thought in the formative years. Why ‘of girl players’? Quite simply because there are many more styles and many more ‘material’ players among the ranks of the women. To play at top level in the women’s game requires a high ‘adaptive intelligence’ and this is not something which happens automatically – it is a capability which must be carefully nurtured and cultivated right from the early years.
It is of course the function of the coach to foster self-sufficiency so that in the long run his services are no longer required. However it is above all vital that with each and every player there is ‘continued progress’. Perhaps the single most critical aspect of the coach/player relationship is to promote an awareness that without progress there can only be stagnation. In the final analysis winning or losing is not really important – we learn from both – but the process of growing and evolving is.