The success of each football team is a result of hard work and dedication of all members. That includes not only players and their effort in the game, but also the entire staff that supports their endeavours. The coaching staff also helps them reach their potential and develop key football skills through appropriate training sessions. This is because the coaches are responsible for designing tactics and formations that players will practice and implement during the match.
The professional staff consists of several football coaches: head coach, assistant coach, goalkeeper coach, fitness trainer and physiotherapist. The basic precondition for quality work of the professional staff is that they cooperate well with each other.
The head coach must respect and accept the ideas and views of all members of the professional staff. There is a head coach in all football teams. He/she is the person who manages the team and makes the final decision for the players’ line-up that will enter the field. Furthermore, it is his tactical ideas that players put into action. He is an active participant of the game, giving advice and instructions to the whole team.
Role and Responsibilities
His role is to teach his players the right values. Football coaches must teach the players to win, but also how to accept defeat in sports. He/she must be creative, responsible, dedicated to his work, communicative, authoritative. In one word, he/she is a leader, on and off the court. The players are rivals in training, they want to impose themselves on the coach at all costs. Thus, he/she must be the one who knows how to motivate them to be team players, and to subordinate their interests to the interests and the goals of the entire team. The coach is responsible for establishing a reward system, how to prize or punish, which means that he/she must be not only a good connoisseur of the game and tactics, but also a good psychologist.
In addition, a coach must be able to create a vision and then transfer his ideas to the other staff members and players. As a person of integrity and right attitude, he/she must work on building relationships with players.
The football coaches and assistants plan training sessions on an annual level, depending on the ambitions, but also the capabilities of the club, and on a weekly basis, depending on the form and results of the team. The professional staff headed by the head coach, at the suggestion of the team manager, selects tournaments, preparation destinations, schedule of team obligations, training conditions, discovering young talents, bringing in new or departure of old players.
Football coaches decide on many things, but he/she also carries a lot of responsibility. The unwritten rule in sports is that coaches are always attributed to all failures and the first one to take the blame.
In addition to football coaches in many senior-ranked teams, an assistant coach exists to make things easier for the head coach. Very often, the assistant coach spends more time with the team than the head coach, monitoring their development at the training sessions and repeating formation drills several times until they are performed successfully. The assistant coach sometimes leads the training, while the head coach observes from the side where he/she has better perspective and overview of what is happening on the field, noticing the mistakes in the game and correcting them later.
Moreover, the assistant coach is the one that is included in all assignments in the team and the one that is responsible for communication with both, the players and the rest of the staff. He/she/She is accountable for delivering all the information of interest to the head coach and especially for team analysis reports.
The goalkeeping coach is an expert who works only with goalkeepers. He/she conducts specific training drills and very often the head coach does not interfere in his/her work. In addition to physical exercises, the goalkeepers’ coach works psychologically with the goalkeepers, helping them with the mental aspect of the game considering the burden they have on their shoulders, especially when they do not record good results and can’t keep the clean sheet.
In many cases, the goalkeepers’ coaches are former goalkeepers, who have mastered the movement and positioning to perfection, which they can convey with quality, demonstration and knowledge. The goalkeeping coach often organizes “goalkeeping training” in which other players also participate and contribute with shooting on the goal, passing in the box and simulating match like situations.
Optimal physical fitness is a basic prerequisite for success in any sport. The development of football in the tactical sense has led to the fact that fitness preparation is an important factor in any training.
Fitness trainer, with other members of the professional staff football coaches especially with head coach and assistant coach, determines the physical status of the player. Therefore plans training programs and implements scheduled drills. Furthermore, he/she is responsible for planning and executing preventive training drills, which are aimed at increasing physical strength and strengthening player’s weak spots. In addition to everything, rehabilitating injured players and introducing them to the training process is an essential part of his/her job description.
The cooperation between the fitness coach and the head coach is crucial for team plans and training schedules. The fitness trainer should participate in the management of the competition and training process, and evaluation of the players’ form.
Football coaches at this level face a number of organizational problems, such as a lack of resources for work, the problem of conducting planned sessions with an insufficient number of players eligible for training, and a number of other circumstances that accompany amateur clubs. In addition, the coach must have a number of backup plans for conducting training sessions as the number of players available varies.
The players have no obligations to the club and often come only to matches, so the coach is in trouble to implement his/her plan and work program. Of course, everyone who dreams to become a coach wishes to train at professional level and to be a part of the biggest clubs in the world. But the best way to start a coaching career, is to train with small teams, where the requirements and coaching standards are not so high and you are able to work on improving yourself. That’s why working in amateur clubs can be a good starting point for young football coaches who want to reach the top.
Similar to amateur level, players at semi-professional clubs are not full-time players. But, unlikely to amateur players, they receive regular payment from the club. This means that football coaches at semi-professional level have players with higher levels of motivation and dedication, so they can count on more players present at training sessions. Therefore, coaches can plan training drills more accurately, because they know the exact number of players available.
The players’ wage is much lower than the payment at professional level, which is one reason why players at this level often decide not to continue their career but to seek employment elsewhere. Sometimes, players would find a regular job and play football as an employee of their company. This puts a lot of pressure on semi-professional level football coaches as they have limited options for motivating their players. They have to reconcile limited resources of the club with players’ wishes, and to try to keep the talented players in the club.
This is totally opposite to amateur football. Players receive regular wages for their playing and are directed to the development of their skills, which are regularly monitored. Professional coach is responsible for entire team activities. The coach knows all the players and schedules their training obligations, which are mandatory at this level. The players’ development is carefully planned and controlled, and the goal is not just to be prepared physically for the next game, but to constantly improve the players’ abilities and specific football skills.
The responsibilities of professional football coaches do not include only managing a team, but also the entire staff around players, coordinating their activities in order to fulfil designated goals.
Formations and Tactics
Formation and tactics are two key concepts in football. Finding a balance between defence and attack is the most important task of every coach. Modern football characterizes attacking philosophy. As a result, various attacking formations have been developed by coaching staff:
The most popular formations in modern football. A 4-4-2 alignment was the formation of choice and became so domesticated that the famous football magazine FourFourTwo got its name from it. A formation with four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers allows the team to have an important advantage in the midfield, but also strength on the flanks.
System 4-3-3 and this distribution of players on the field enables attacking football with a large number of offensive solutions. This formation perhaps creates the largest number of offensive actions, both in the central and lateral parts of the field.
The 4-2-3-1 formation became most prominent in Spain in the 1990s and early 2000s and it is now used by many teams around the world. The two players in front of the last four, known as the “double pivot” (double pivot) in Spain, provide support to the defence, with one player dismantling opposition attacks and the other placing more emphasis on ball distribution of the attackers. The formation should ensure that the teams are not cut in the middle of the field and with so many advanced players, there is great flexibility.
Pep Guardiola was an innovator of tactics 4-2-4 in Barcelona. With players who are technically perfect, he made a real revolution in football with this formation and introduced a new philosophy for other football coaches to follow.
The modern version of 3-4-3 came on the scene in the late nineties as a revolutionary response to the classic variant of the 4-4-2 system. The 3-4-3 system guarantees an easier way out of the opponent’s pressure because the goalkeeper in the initial phase of the action has one more solution compared to the variant with only two central defenders. The 3-4-3 system is not inferior in any line of the team. Behind are three defenders against two of their attackers, in the middle is an equal and in front, you have three who can make a surplus with an individual move.
Formation 3 5 2 allows easier escape from the opponent’s pressing. In this formation, the team should have good side players. The advantage of this formation is that you have as many as five players in the midfield.
And finally, one of the most legendary formations ever. The famous French champion team from the 1984 European Championship, in which Tigana and Fernandez; together with Platini and Jores, formed a creative and technically superior midfield.
To sum up, managing a football club, especially at a professional level, is a difficult and complex task. That is why it cannot be done by one person, but it takes the entire staff of coaches. Their cooperation is vital for successfully governing the club and arranging training sessions that are in accordance with their needs and development requirements.
This can only be achieved if they communicate effectively and discuss team vision, ensuring the use of appropriate tactics and formations that will get the best out of their players.