Values, from the top down?

Shared values?

The company I work for have a published set of values and these values are shared throughout the business, from the top down.

There are six values which were set by the Exec Board a number of years ago and they’re shared openly and widely, both internally and externally (with customers). The directors are expected to “live the values” and they in turn pass these down to department managers, group leaders and team leaders who then pass these on to the staff. Everyone at the company is measured against their ability to live the values and this forms part of an overall view of an employee which then ultimately impacts on their salary, bonus etc.

Now, I’m not qualified to talk about this if I’m honest because I’m not a coach, nor have I coached at a football club before (I’ve played for plenty and organised a few training sessions but it hardly counts). However, from the reading I’ve done it seems that there can quite frequently be a disparity between various people at a football club and most notably it’s between the coaching staff.

You would expect a club to be a collection of teams and more often than not it is the name of the club which carries an outward facing perception rather than an individual team within the club [i.e. I would expect all of Arsenals teams to play good football and all Leeds teams to be dirty*]. So with this in mind you would expect there to be unity at a football club, both with regard the way the club is run & managed and the ethos behind the development of players within the club.

I would imagine that disparity in the ethos of a club would hinder the ability for a child to develop as a footballer within that club, especially if coaches are assigned to age groups rather than teams. You can picture the scene – the U11 coach works really hard to develop his players technically and focuses on passing & movement before the U12 coach chucks all that out of the window and harbours intentions only of winning matches & playing directly [complete contrast helps the argument!].

Therefore, shouldn’t there be more happening at clubs to create a shared ethos that each and every individual connected to the club buys in to? The child, the coach, the manager, the secretary and the parent all bought in to one view of how the club approaches it’s football? “Player development over winning”, that sort of stuff…

Alas, I am new and naive so I may be talking in the land of the fairies but it is worrying to think that such a simple thing could have such an impact on young players.

Am I in cloud cuckoo land here? Am I making the problem sound worse than it really is? Or am I on to something with this perception I’ve built? Interested to hear your thoughts…

*P.S Only joking Leeds fans.


About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

5 Responses to Values, from the top down?

  1. Simon, an interesting thought. It sounds as though you may work for the same company as I do – not a multi national travel and financial services company by any chance?

    Anyway, I digress. Your assumptions are correct – in my view a club should have a shared ethos (and values) which should be promoted, nurtured and adhered to by those who serve its members.
    However, in reality and at community based clubs where volunteers are the lifeblood it is often the case that there are a group of individuals doing their own thing with a common appearance (badge). At our club we have such a wide variety of approaches that it is almost unimaginable that we come from the same club. Coaches who see the game as about winning (for them as a coach – and the parents, to be fair) even at the youngest ages and some who are desperately trying to teach the players the game so that they will be more capable players when they are older.

    But, with volunteers, we find it difficult to dictate an approach – however, they do this pretty well from what I have seen from a limited visit to Holland. Some of this is down to education / awareness and some is down to the traditional English approach that the game of football is some sort of attritional combat rather than a combination of art and science which is required to be consistently successful.

    At the club at which I coach (my kids don’t play there – my son plays elswhere as did my daughter until she packed it in) the coach goes up with the age group. Primarily this because most are parents who got involved because their son or daughter played in the team. I’m a bit of an oddity in that I don’t have any familial connection with the club.

    It’s a big club and a couple of us are trying to set up a series of “quality circles” where we can discuss coaching / development ethos and put on practical sessions from which we can all learn. It is hoped that this ‘community’ approach will make every coach feel valued as well as accelerating the accumulation of knowledge and from which we hope to be able to take a more continental rather than a typically ‘English’ approach to youth development in football for our club and for the benefit of all the players.

    • Simon says:

      Thanks Steve – the idea of the “quality circles” sounds like a good idea (again, said as someone without much experience of these things!).

      Was your visit to Holland a football coaching related visit? How did that come about?

      P.S No, I work for an education company. I think company “values” must be the latest fashion!


  2. Gary Whitton says:

    When i started my club 2 years ago my vision was to develop a club which could be the centre of the local community and whose teams and coaches all sang from the same hymn sheet. I wanted it to be a club rather than a group of teams playing under the same name. However, as the club has evolved and increased in size dramatically (went from 9 kids and one coach in 2008 to over 50 kids and 12 coaches now) it has been increasingly difficult to ensure that this ethos has been successful throughout. All the coaches have different attitudes towards the game, training, etc, As the coaches tend to be parents they stay with the same team through the age groups. I’m not convinced that this is the best thing, but it’s the way it is. I’d given up trying to ensure that all teams and coaches did everything the same way, as long as the kids were enjoying their football and keep coming back, that’s enough for me. i’m no longer involved in that club anymore, but both my sons still are.

  3. David Stuart says:

    I am a Welshman coaching in the USA and stumbled across your blog, and although a month late I would like to give some input on the question you ask in this entry.

    I have a strong belief that changing coaches every couple of seasons as players develop is essential to their growth. Often teams can become stagnant with a coach. Especially if he/she does not grow with their team. Also, sometimes a child just doesn’t “get” a certain part of the game when explained to them then when someone else explains it differently the light bulb goes on. Also, I don’t feel there is anything wrong with learning how to play directly. Not to have better opportunities of winning at the lower level but do we not need our top end players to be able to play a long ball?

    A way to counter your argument of one coach doing the right things and then another taking the team the next year and doing something different, is to do exactly as you point out at the beginning of your post. Having an overall club ethos. Furthermore, the heads of the club. They call them Director’s of Coaching (DOC) over here. Should be looking to set standards and priorities for each age group, and what should be expected of each child at the end of their time with you as a coach.

    Now these can vary depending on the level of the club. Although we all have somewhat of the same goal, that goal must be adjusted depending on certain factors. Are you the only club in the area? Are you the “biggest” club in the area? How high a standard of talent does the club typically produce? Can we make it higher?

    If the DOC, doesn’t feel that you are meeting the standards set by the club then questions must be asked. Was this a particularly poor age group? (it happens, sometimes a certain age group just seems to be a little behind all the time in every club!) Are you a coach who a has the qualities required for the level of ability of the children you coach? If not, can we help you improve? Can outside agencies help you improve? (The F.A, USSF, BFUT etc) Can you be successful at a lower age group? (I’m not saying that the worst coaches should go to the bottom of the age group because that could be counter-productive to the goal of the club, but maybe you are simply suited to a lower age group. Or a higher one for that matter) Do you need to go to a different club to be successful? Maybe the club and coach do not mesh well together.

    I wish you well as you begin your journey into coaching. Already, you are asking the right questions. Of course remember this, there is no holy grail, “one way” to coach and produce talented players. No doubt someone could come on here and scoff at my post. This is just the way I feel about how players should be developed. Take all that you learn and become your own coach. Cookie cutter coaches will produce cookie cutter players.

    • Simon says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your comment, it’s great that this blog is allowing me to receive the views of those far more experienced within coaching.

      I take your point on changing coaches because I can align it to my job – every time I’ve had a new manager or team leader they’ve been able to improve me in areas that others couldn’t and I’ve benefited hugely from having a number of various different managers over the last 8-9 years.

      Interesting concept the DOC role and I say interesting because I wonder how it would work in the UK where some clubs are struggling to find enough people willing to volunteer to run sides – so how would they react to such a person challenging them?

      Thought provoking.


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