Regular readers of EachGameAsItComes.com will be aware of our support for the Coerver Coaching method which has grown in popularity since its inception in 1984. Now a worldwide brand, Coerver was co founded by Alf Galustian and Charlie Cooke, inspired by the work of the Dutchman Wiel Coerver and focused on improving the skills of the individual to benefit the team, primarily the 5-16 year old age group. More recently, Coerver took to sharing their coaching methods with coaches with their Youth Diploma courses. I attended one of the first of these in 2011, and have since also attended follow up courses – Play Like The Stars and Play Like Spain, which appear to have been “beta” courses as Coerver worked towards building a learning structure for coaches. This now appears to be in place with the launch of the Youth Diploma 2 course, the first of which I attended at the end of June.
Like many, on first introduction to Coerver I had the misconception of what it was all about. It appeared to be all about teaching clever skills and step overs and little about the importance of team play. I have since learned differently, and Youth Diploma 2, which focuses on developing a positive and attacking team style, will hopefully go further to dispelling the myth. Not surprisingly, the Coerver team model advocates a 4-3-3 system or similar (the key here is to have at least three players in each of defence, midfield, and attack), with a positive mindset (no sitting back and parking the bus here). Without the ball, players press, and with the ball, it is positive possession, probing away and trying to penetrate the opposition defence.
As with the first Youth Diploma course, this one was held at Fulham’s excellent training ground at Motspur Park over two days. The course was a mix of lectures and practicals mostly delivered by Alf Galustian, and split into four sections. Firstly was setting up the typical Coerver coached player with a demonstration using Fulham’s under 12 squad. The following three sections that followed was an introduction to Coerver’s team play model which is entitled “Box & Trap”, the Box being the attacking element and the Trap being the defensive. Essentially, it focuses on focusing team play in the areas of the pitch wherever the ball is, where you may have a 2 v 1, 3 v 2, 3 v 3 etc… A Box becomes a Trap on turnover of the ball and vice versa, and much of Coerver’s teaching is done with drills that can have rapid turnover of possession – this makes many of the exercises excellent for teaching both defensive and attacking elements.
In addition to the technical and tactical elements of the system, there was also focus on building players in terms of their confidence and encouraging coaches to be positive. The method of repetition of core skills, building up the speed and complexity before introducing competition is believed to give players the self belief in what they are doing. This was emphasised by a new addition to the Coerver courses (which has also been added to the first Youth Module), with two guest speakers, one on each day. First up was Peak Performance Coach Tom Bates, who has recently joined Brentford’s new set-up, who spoke about Creating Performance Excellence as a modern day coach and focusing on what creates an optimal performance in a coach, including the ability to be in control while still showing warmth to the players and also on the human needs and translating that into what a player will require when being taught. The second speaker was Dr Peter Bain, a neurologist and from his long line of achievements, a fairly talented sportsman himself. I’d seen him on several courses that I’ve attended (he was on the same Youth Diploma course and is also a UEFA qualified coach), and his lecture was on the Brain itself and the basis of confidence and creativity, and was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the course – more details of which will follow.
There were various other highlights to the weekend. Coerver had brought along the Adidas MiCoach Smart Ball, which with the help of an accompanying app is able to measure the speed of the ball once struck. I managed a respectable 58mph (and kept the ball on target unlike many of my fellow coaches), the winner hit 72mph which apparently is harder than the likes of Kaka and Diego Costa strike the ball – impressive stuff. We were able to learn more about Coerver’s work which even over the four years since I first attended a course has come on leaps and bounds. They now have a Ball Mastery app, which assists when asking players to work on skills away from sessions. They also have various schemes including Partner Clubs, where clubs (both professional and grassroots) can receive specialist support and coaching on a regular basis amongst a host of benefits, and also the Coerver Performance Academy, which Coerver claim to be the UK’s Premier Grassroots Player Development programme for youngsters between 7 and 17 years. You can see a recent video of the Performance Academy’s visit to Madrid above.
Coerver’s original mission statement from 1984 was to develop skillful, confident and creative players who can combine effectively with team mates or go it alone if required. They believe that their methods, including the new team model, makes for an exciting and skilful game, develops strong, emotionally resilient and assertive players, and importantly, makes teams coached in this way tougher to play against. It is interesting to note, with the Women’s World Cup currently taking place in Canada, that the reigning champions Japan are recognised as one of the technically stronger teams, and they have several players and a head coaches schooled in the Coerver methods. Certainly further food for thought for the game in the UK.