Gary, As coaches we measure loads of stats but how can we gage the immeasurable and use them to help design sessions to win – team spirit, desire etc?
Wow… great question! This is an interesting one for me because it's an area that I've recently pinpointed to improve and gain a better understanding of how to implement within a team environment. Working with Oliver Gage recently on the Player Development Webinar Series with MSC and CoachTech Soccer, he gave excellent insight into the benefits of an evidence-based approach to coaching and ways that you could measure things that ‘traditional’ metrics like possession don’t necessarily do. Oliver suggested clear KPI’s in some areas of the game, but in others he advised coaches to create your own by challenging what you are prioritizing in your game model and being creative and flexible with how you can measure it. Although this is not a tactical question per se, you could adopt a similar approach to team spirit and focus on areas like retention or even by asking players individually to assess or compare aspects like personal motivation or team spirit within the team. Ultimately, because aspects like desire, courage, attitude and selflessness are so important to team culture, performances should improve, along with results. Or you could go one step further and develop a tactical system that aligns with all those immeasurable values as well, as Oliver detailed in the webinar with NY Red Bulls under Jesse Marsch.
During a discussion with a coaching colleague last week, he advised me that “you cannot turn an art into a science” and I think that can also apply here. I think we want to utilize spreadsheets and technology because, to a large extent, it means organization and control. But some aspects of coaching are messy and it’s important we learn how to operate in that space also. If we had a measuring tool for team spirit would we look at the numbers and stop paying attention to our players? Would we take for granted that it’s under control and therefore spend less time on it? Maybe we would. So I love the fact that there are still elements of the game we cannot have full control over, because that challenges you to spend a little more time on the informal elements of coaching and awareness. Coaches should be always on the lookout to gauge team spirit because it can change from one day to the other, as can desire and motivation. Therefore, I think it should be a daily battle to address and work on. This can absolutely be extended to session design in order to keep it competitive, enjoyable, and fun. Then perhaps when you see the team arrive a little earlier for practice or stay a little longer, you know that they want to spend more time with one another and the game and you are making progress in both your team and environment. Hope this helps and please let me know how you get on!
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