Football Cowboys, Clowns and Dutchmen!!

Football Coaching – Who’s wrong, Who’s right…..who cares???

Cowboys, Dutch eggs, clowns, clueless, charlatan. All phrases used in popular debate and discourse among the online football coaching community. Trawling through Twitter, FB and to a lesser extent Linkedin will unveil episodes of character and professional assassination to rival anything seen in what are considered the more aggressive online communities.

Adults perfusing to have a level of expertise in coaching, fitness, sport science etc are either amazingly smart at generating irate responses (thereby generating click-bait) or they are insecure and not living what they profess to be – life-long learners. In fairness, much abusive labelling comes from a few sources – a little ironic when one of the same sources posts that “Coaches are lifelong students of the game”.

Who is right or wrong isn’t important. Nor who is the best sales-person for their wares or being the one who can shout loudest. What is important are the players we work with. Placing ourselves in a place where we are getting closer to the truth about how best we can prepare them for life during and after their sporting careers.  Neither Confirmation bias or cognitive dissonance serves this – the truth is that everybody knows something. If we’re all ‘lifelong learners’ isn’t it time to remember we have two ears and one mouth and to listen a little more than we talk??

There’s a grain of truth in many of the processes and approaches that are posted and proposed – it’s a matter of listening carefully and processing what we’ve heard. Then look at it through the prism of our own environment and context to see if it delivers a better way for us and our players.

It’s not about mine-is-better-than-yours exchanges. Performance is multi-faceted and the truth is that we’ll likely get more wrong than right. Many good coaches (and their performance teams) who have win rates of less than 60% – does it mean that for 40% of their time they are 100% wrong and have a flawed approach??

We’ll all proclaim to be player-centred, open to new ideas etc. Better to live it than talk it – it’s not about being right or wrong or married to ideas and approaches…’s about getting better every day for the benefit of those we work with. As soon as you see the world through fixed mindsets and paradigms we’re in the realm of ideologies. This is where learning ends. Philosophies? Absolutely; but reality and ideologies/fixed opinions are not great bedfellows. Being wed to an approach or belief set is formulaic….chaotic, random events (football and most field sports) are not formulaic.

Your best friend, whether you are a cowboy, clown or Dutch-man?? Doubt. Question yourself and questions assumptions – a naysayer to you is an evangelist to someone else. We’re all after (coaching) wisdom — but it can only occur when the barriers of concepts and conditioning are dropped!

Paul Clarke operates performance & coaching consultancy, Match-Fit. Paul hasn’t written any books (yet!). He’s also made more coaching & performance mistakes than most!  Our new website at details how we have been creating custom solutions in the areas of coaching, coach education, player/athlete monitoring and creating player-centred, coach-driven performance cultures. Get in touch today and we can have a chat on Skype to learn about your program and to share the useful outcomes others have gained from working with us. Better again let’s grab a coffee!

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Paul Clarke

Since 2002 Paul has developed a reputation for expertise in the vital performance-related areas of coaching, S&C, sports science and performance analysis. Teams, clubs, organisations, coaches and players from Ireland, UK, Europe and beyond have benefitted from the insights offered by the Match-Fit business as a result of the tailored and customised approach taken to creating a performance solution specific to each client. Through keeping performance and the player at the heart of all solutions, Match-Fit clients have realised that the solutions delivered not only benefit competitive performance but also the club/organisation as a complete sporting business entity.

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