Coaching is a multi-faceted, complex art which does not simply come down to the technical and tactical content taught on the court; what is taught off of it is just as important. The environment created off court can be a leading determinant of a team’s success on it. (RL Jones, Potrac, Cushion & Ronglan, 2010). Power, interaction, knowledge and learning are key fundamentals of a club, and the values instilled give an indication of the mind-set and skills needed to be an integral part of ProFutsal London.
The core aspect of being a Pro player is to be open, to have a growth mind-set, and be willing to learn. Players from six years old up to the first team will have a diversity of experience, and each player, parent and coach can learn and help develop the club. It is therefore important to make players feel valued, but we must not compromise or abandon our core principles in the process. We believe we are a little less wrong today than we were yesterday, but we are always learning, and it is important to keep growing.
‘We attempt to create a culture of ‘belonging’, and this applies to every player at the club and at every level.’
Culture trickles down from the top. Juan, the First Team manager at ProFutsal London puts an incomprehensible amount of time into developing his own knowledge, and the level of commitment he shows towards the First Team is clearly evident; he sets the bar and the standard that needs to be adhered to in order to gain the maximum development of an individual and therefore for the team to thrive. This gives a direction, values and a philosophy for every player to follow, from those of a young age who enter the academy, to the First Team; everybody has an identity and is singing from the same hymn sheet. We attempt to create a culture of ‘belonging’, and this applies to every player at the club and at every level. We have sought to create an identity that gives clarity and detracts from ambiguity. Whilst structure is important, flexibility in that structure is where we really see excellence thrive. To stress this, we try to teach players to work as hard as possible on and off the court, first as a person and then as a player, in order for them to have the best chance of success both on the court and in life. Commitment is a core value, and attending training is the only way to learn. When commitment and the will to learn are a staple within a club, how we coach is really inspired by leaving a positive change and impact on these players on and off the court.
"Coaching the Pro way"
Players need to understand the ‘why’ of what they are practicing, otherwise there will be no transference of knowledge and no autonomy or responsibility of a player in a Pro shirt. There will be times where our coaching staff of any age want players to discover elements for themselves, especially in foundation and early youth development phases (6-13), and anything tactical is served in a really indirect way through tailored practices and designed games.
Some players are only receiving two formal hours with us a week, and so we have looked to create a coaching culture whereby players are given the autonomy to take their development into their own hands and practice in their own time (particularly in terms of ball-mastery and technical components). This process is something that we have tried to instil as we have evolved, and we are always exploring ways to make it happen. From the age of 14 onwards, more direct tactics come into play – from systems out of possession to systems and patterns in possession. Patterns, and learning why and how to move and execute their ideas is vitally important in understanding the ‘why’ of what to do in situations, but every situation in a game will have multiple answers and this is when it is up to the player to execute the right decision. We don’t want robots and we don’t want lazy players that are only ‘position-specific.’ We see futsal as a team game that has many transcendent moments, and we want fans to get off their seats when they watch us play.
First Team Manager Juan in conversation with England international and Pro Starlet Russell Goldstein
To achieve this, we need to play with high-energy in and out of possession. Therefore, the intensity in training sessions has to replicate this. The central idea behind our coaching philosophy replicates the school playground; play like you only have 10 minutes to play at break time. At this age, winner stays on and you give everything for 2-3 minutes; no-one sits half court and counters; everyone wants the ball and everyone wants to score. This is a concept lost to us as we grow up, but we want to recapture this child-like mentality – we want the ball and we want to score.
"We have sought to create an identity that gives clarity and detracts from ambiguity."
To create opportunities to score, we attempt to create an environment to break lines and create overloads in possession as quickly as possible. Whether this is quick vertical transitions (as we think this is the easiest way to score), quick horizontal transitions to create 3v2 and 2v1 opportunities, or an attempt to create 1v1 isolations that we work on tirelessly, the patterns and the ‘why’ of how to create space are based on three principles: the space, where your teammates are and where the opposition is. Out of possession, we attempt to create the same environment. We want to score and to do that, we want the ball. We try to get the technical elements of defending implemented to allow players to hold their own and become a beast individually, but also as a collective to hunt in pods (we use the killer whale/orca analogy). This allows us to create the best opportunities to score and means whoever is the closest player to the ball is able to leave it all on the court and work tirelessly for their 2-3 minutes on it.
From a competitive perspective, if you are playing but not being very productive in your minutes, what’s the point in playing those minutes? We believe in the principles of effectiveness and making the most of your time, which will help players to grow as people and take these aspects into their everyday lives. Players need to give everything in their time on court. This creates a winning mentality at senior level, and even at the higher spectrum of youth development (14/15/16 year olds). For the younger players in the academy, it develops a focus on hard work as a core principle; we want our players to be productive when they’re on court and to go and effect the game in and out of possession.
We have a podcast with Director Jon Kurrant, First Team Manager Juan Tapia-Owens and First Team starlet and our #2 Russell Goldstein, who has recently acquired his 50th cap for the England Senior Futsal squad, where they will be discussing the “How we coach” concept in more detail – below! Have a listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify:
Click on the picture above to be directed to our Podcast: How we Coach on Spotify