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Content focussed on helping you take a holistic approach to developing your players.

In this article rugby coach and researcher, Jonny McMurtry discusses the importance of connection between athlete and coach taking a deep dive into an approach that is needs based and not just athlete-centred. Firstly, I hope this blog post finds you, your family and friends in good health; this is strange times and new territory for us all and I hope we can follow the advice of health professionals and leaders of our countries to “flatten the curve” and keep our communities safe and well,…

Ben Bartlett, Senior Youth Coach Educator at the Football Association, gives some fascinating real-life examples to explain the importance of aligning a team’s ideal model of performance with the capabilities and behaviours of its players and the practice of its coaching. There is a Japanese proverb, highlighted by James Kerr in his book ‘Legacy’, which states that “Vision without action is a day-dream; action without vision is a nightmare”. With this in mind, lecturer and coach developer Bob Muir proposed the model below, asking coaches…

In this article, AFC A licensed coach Andrew Oakley shares his perspective on a significant issue in Australian grassroots football. Andrew discusses the risks of trials, recruitment and talent identification, outlining the importance of belonging and cohesion in a young footballers developmental journey. Why do we keep shuffling the cards in hope of a ‘winning’ hand? At the end of every season in Australia’s youth football landscape, a ritual is repeated that isn’t doing our clubs or players any favours. The annual circus of retention,…

In this Masterclass Webinar replay, we host Psychologist and Motivational Interviewing Pioneer, Prof. Stephen Rollnick. Stephen is a world leader in psychology and recently co-authored the book, Coaching Athletes to be Their Best: Motivational Interviewing in Sport. Alongside him is UEFA Pro Licensed Coach and Assistant Coach at Crawley Town, Edu Rubio. Stephen and Edu will be hosted by the PDP Team, Dave Wright and Dan Wright for a wide ranging discussion on effective coach communication. We dive into a number of topics including: Coach…

Premature professionalism in youth sport is a growing problem. Environments created to replicate professional sport, ‘elite’ pathways at 8-years-old and coaches removing autonomy from the environment by exerting total control. In this article, PDP Editor, Dave Wright challenges the status quo and asks how we can break the machine that coaching is at risk of becoming. The world of sport is constantly evolving and new technology creeps into all sporting codes. Youth players wear tracking devices and GPS, while data can even now be captured…

Sideline support and direct instruction are two very different things. In this article, Founder of Working with Parents in Sport, Gordon MacLelland discusses the damage that can be caused from parents overstepping and instructing children while they play. Every weekend all over the world millions of parents, children and coaches set off for their weekly sporting ritual ‘Match Day’. Many will follow the same process each week and will never question their routine or behaviour. Many of these parents and coaches are well intentioned, trying…

In this Masterclass Discussion, PDP Lead Researcher, James Vaughan sits down with Professor Stephen Rollnick, an expert psychologist who has worked for the NHS & in sport. James & Stephen discuss team work and what opportunities sport provides to young people in expressing themselves, solving problems and learning. Stephen Rollnick is Honorary Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine, Cardiff University. He was a practicing psychologist in the UK National Health Service for 16 years, and then became a teacher and researcher on the subject…

Creativity values, culture, systems and control. What does it all mean and how does it impact coaching and sporting environments? In this Masterclass Discussion, PDP Editor, Dave Wright hosts Co-Founder of my fastest mile, Mark Upton alongside PDP Lead Researcher and AIK Academy Coach, James Vaughan. In this wide-ranging conversation, the guys discuss some of James’ Phd research and his recently published paper on creativity, as well as diving down a number of rabbit holes such as: Challenging the role of traditional sports science The…

In this chapter of John O’Sullivan’s new book, Every Moment Matters, John shares ‘Lesson 2’: You Coach a Person, Not a Sport. This excerpt dives into the youth development overhaul at the Belgian FA, cites the work of Steve Kerr, discusses athlete-centered coaching and gives coaches some practical tools to self-reflect. Lesson 2: You Coach a Person, Not a Sport You have to ask one fundamental question: who is in front of me? —Kris van der Haegen You coach a child, not a sport. —…

In this article, PDP Lead Researcher, James Vaughan reflects on how a history of linear, data-driven approaches are limiting player development. James emphasises the importance of understanding the complexity that comes with human development. Last month I finally published a scientific paper, Developing Creativity to Enhance Human Potential in Sport: A Wicked Transdisciplinary Challenge. After rejections and reviews, the paper was finally out there. Cue scientific revolution and practical evolution – next step Nobel prize ceremony in December. Not quite. Even so, I was excited…

In this Masterclass Discussion, PDP Editor, Dave Wright is joined by Gordon MacLelland, the Founder of Working with Parents in Sport. Gordon and Dave dive into a discussion which includes practical advice for parents on how to support their children in sport, how clubs can better engage with parents, how to manage the car ride home and much more. Gordon has vast coaching and teaching experience and this discussion is essential viewing for coaches and clubs looking to better understand parental influence in youth sport….

In this Masterclass Discussion Dave Wright sits down with motivational researcher and rugby coach, Jonny McMurtry. Jonny discusses his research into motivation and participation in youth sport. Jonny and Dave cover a number of topics including athlete motivation, autonomy supportive environments, talent identification and coach behaviour. This is another fascinating discussion around psychology and youth development not to be missed. Show Notes 0:00  – 2:00: Introduction and upcoming Rugby World Cup predictions 2:00 – 5:35: Background in Rugby and coaching 5:35 – 8:04: Why player…

Are learning and performance different? In this article, Nick Soderstrom discusses how teachers or coaches can enhance performance by stretching individuals and discusses the key differences between the two. You’re teaching a concept in class, working through examples and explaining the steps. You have your students do some practice problems and they seem to be getting it! After a while, the bell rings, you dismiss your class, and you leave for home feeling satisfied with your students’ progress and your teaching methods. The next day,…

What motivates young people to play sport? Why do some players like Zlatan Ibrahimović and Yannick Bolasie play the way they do? In this Masterclass Discussion, Dan Wright sits down with PDP Lead Researcher James Vaughan to discuss some of the complexities of player motivation. James has been studying motivation in football and shares some of his research to help football coaches working in the the youth development space. Big topics like Self Determination Theory, intrinsic motivation and social-cultural influences are discussed. Image Source: Pexels

When it comes to learning, development or performance, what is ‘The Zone’? In this article, motivational researcher and rugby coach, Jonny McMurtry shares some ideas as to how we can help athletes get into the zone. Driven by my on-going reviews of my current research and listening Coach Reed Maltbie’s recent podcast regarding Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximial Development, I wanted to look deeper into the theory, applying ideas against recent articles and incidents in the coaching world to highlight my perceived importance to this matter….

Coaching youth sport is complex, challenging and rewarding. In this Masterclass Discussion we speak to Founder of Changing the Game Project and youth coaching expert, John O’Sullivan. PDP Editor, Dave Wright hosts John for an in depth discussion which dives into a range of topics including women’s football, John’s work in the youth coaching space, specialisation, organisational culture and creating learning environments for young people. John is a leader in driving change in youth sport, a long time PDP contributor and has some fantastic ideas…

Communication is a crucial element of effective coaching. In this article, Professor Stephen Rollnick challenges traditional methods of coach communication and offers some practical solutions for coaches to improve player relationships. I went on this 4-year journey through sport to get a feel for how people communicate.  Giving feedback and advice to players sprang out at me from all corners of football. From having a quiet word, to looking at technical data, conducting player reviews, having heated exchanges in the dressing room and beyond, I…