Coaches: How to get to complete control of your team

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

Just like players need to continuously improve, so do coaches. As a coach, why not learn the strategies from the best of the best? And what better person is there to study than Sir Alex Ferguson? One of the areas Ferguson has been a master of is making his players fear him. However, his players never fear him to the point that they are afraid to play their game but his presence alone and the way he runs the team allows him to the get the very best out of each player.

I am in the middle of reading Football – Bloody Hell! The biography of Alex Ferguson and wanted to share one of the strategies Ferguson began to use early in his coaching career and continues to use to this day.

Unfortunately, something many coaches today fail with, is having complete control of their team.  This was the case (to a certain degree) with Sir Alex Ferguson early in his coaching career.

Early in his coaching career Ferguson was running the entire training sessions, doing all the drills and all the screaming. Then one day, one of his assistants told him that they (the assistants) should be doing this and he (Ferguson) should just watch and thus have complete control. Once Ferguson heard the word “control” he changed his strategies.

The next day he drove to training and watched training from inside his parked car in the parking lot. This was the beginning of creating that impression that he was always watching his players. Each player noticed this and knew they had better be on their game because the man in charge was watching. It was an entirely different approach than watching from the pitch itself.

What a great way to display who’s in charge and create that worry and or leave that thought in the back of each players mind. So instead of running the training sessions have your assistants do this. By creating the impression that you are always watching your players they will have a better understanding of the hierarchy within the team and ultimately having complete control. Also, the players cannot under perform or their spot will be in jeopardy.

Think about it. If you worry that someone is watching you without being present, you begin to behave differently. Perhaps more appropriately or in the case of soccer you had better be on your game. In addition, if you want the assistant coaches to speak highly of you to the coach you had better play exceptionally well.

So to sum it up, let the assistant coaches run the warm-up, shooting, crossing and technical drills whereas you come in and discuss the strategies and formations of play when you play 11 v 11 games or different variations of this. You, as coach, are present for the major decisions that need to be made. Otherwise, let your assistants take care of the smaller exercises.

And lastly, another way to get control of your team (and a strategy Ferguson uses less of today is “the blow dryer treatment” where he would get within an inch of a player (usually in front of the whole team) and absolutely ream him out. And then there’s the case of throwing (or in David Beckham’s case – kicking) a soccer boot at a player.

You better make sure not to jog back to cover your man knowing “the blow dryer treatment” or a flying shoe might come your way as a consequence.

More to come.

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