• handballalberta


Joystick coaching, as you might expect, is when a coach controls and instructs the players through a game, thus restricting players from making their own decisions that could run the risk of the team not winning the match. It happens when the coach knows best, often when the necessity to win outweighs the fear of losing. By the coach making the critical decisions on behalf of the players the team will be helped to greater success.

The problem with joystick coaching is that done well, it wins matches. It therefore creates the illusion of increased player ability because winning teams are regarded as successful. Sadly, joystick coaching removes the opportunity for players to develop these critical decision making and creativity skills for themselves. In a sport like Handball that is very fluid where the action happens so quickly, players must be able to think on their feet and solve or address problems immediately.

The difference between good and great coaches is that good coaches often instruct their teams to success. But great coaches, well they develop creative Handball players, critical thinkers, effective decision makers; players who have the ability to know the best probability for success in every key decision they make, whether that be a shot, whether to pass or feint, which space to attack, which defenders to engage, how to create more space for a team-mate, which system to play and why. So when it comes to the game, the coach doesn't need to 'help' his players to victory, but allow them to find the correct solution themselves.

Training is crucial to develop these key creativity, decision-making skills, and gameplay skills. And matches are the platform for players to nurture these skills, even if it means losing!

Coaches must construct exercises that require problem solving and that give players the responsibility of choosing from multiple decisions at one moment. This stems from a school of thought called ‘Teaching Games for Understanding’ and focuses on teaching players tactical awareness; leading to effective skill selection and skill execution. Its done using small-sided games, where players have more opportunity to have the ball in their hand and make these important decisions. Instead of telling players the right decisions to make, coaches can instead use a questioning approach to check and challenge understanding. It means, rather than telling players what to do and where to play, ask them how and where they should be playing. Let them think of the answer and assist only if they don’t know the answer. These techniques will develop the mental skills required to be successful later on."

So coaches, leave your joysticks at home, and allow your players the freedom to play for themselves.

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