Last Wednesday we were joined by Director of Coaching at Seattle Sounders and Tacoma Defiance head coach, Chris Little. Chris focused his presentation on changing the point of attack and looked at the principles around the 'Unbalancing Phase' in the club's model, taking a look at the game cues they adopt and why. There was a huge response to this one as Chris shared the club philosophy, session design, videos of the teams using the principles in games, and then answered questions from the coaches in attendance.
There were two major takeaways for me personally during the discussion after the presentation. Firstly, I really enjoyed how Chris described the behavior of the coach changing throughout the session. The coach must wear a 'different hat' depending on what stage of the session, Chris explained. The technical aspect of the session may be where the coach demands high standards, whereas when complexity of situations increase, the coach steps back slightly and allows the player space to experience it and make their own decisions. It makes so much sense when you think about it. The intensity that may help in one aspect of training, but can be counterproductive in another. It also showed the level of detail where coach behavior was being linked directly to the environment that they want to create for the players.
The second aspect that I really enjoyed was around the subject of systems and principles. I think this is a very important point to make. "I think your identity and the principles that you want to see are actually more important than systems", Chris explained. As coaches discuss the benefits of different formations, Chris believes that the numbers of the formation: 4-4-2, 4-3-3 etc., are there to "supplement the principles". He also gave an example of having two national team center forwards at the U17 academy level so it would have made no sense to play with one striker. Therefore, when clubs are looking at building a consistent model from first team to youth team, a set of principles allow much more flexibility for the coach than simply having a designated formation for every age group to follow.
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