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Player and Coach Interventions

Player and Coach Interventions

Player and Coach Interventions have developed over the last 20 years of the coaching and teaching process. Below is a breakdown of the process below and I believe that it will help you understand more on how to interact with your players.

The concept of constructing individual contextual and domain specific knowledge for athletes has been outlined as a effective key performance indicator. Techniques to support this process have been theorised in the form of coaching styles on a continuum based. The cognitive engagement diagram helps show how coaches are engaging with athletes using the ‘Guided Discovery’ approach to ‘Command’.


As Coaches

First of all as coaches, within a group we face varying ability levels and prior experiences not just based on the game in general. For alternate topics; a player may demonstrate a great ability when dribbling with the ball though struggle with passing  skills based on there learning experiences. This demonstrates their level of understanding of how, when, where, why and in what context they perform the skill.

Therefore it is a must for us as coaches to match our intervention/coaching style to individual needs. This is in order to add or develop their knowledge base within a session. However, as we all have found individualising this process can at times be problematic. For example, do we begin with ‘Command’ and instruct players on what they need to see. Where and how they need to perform the skill? Or a ‘Guided Discovery’ approach in which they assimilate potential new information individually. Attempt to fit and make sense of it based on there pre-existing knowledge and learning journey.



In adopting a ‘Command‘ approach to develop knowledge at the beginning. The argument is that this style provides a brief amount of insight into a players experiences. Which may result in the progressions of the  session being non inclusive to the learners’ needs. Therefore, as coaches we must allow ourselves to discover as much of this information as possible. Furthermore, progressing and regressing the session outcomes to suit individual needs.

Intervention Ladder

I have found that adopting a ‘Intervention Ladder’ has proved to be very successful to supplement this process. Beginning with ‘Guided Discovery’ and setting group/individual challenges we can begin to enquire and observe players technical execution and contextual understanding of the topic through there subsequent success and the decisions that they make. If participants display greater success within the practice we can then progress the practice through further individual challenge based around the session outcomes. Or if you’re in a technical block of 4 sessions focussing on a specific topic such as ‘Support Play’; Potentially drop seeds of the next session or what’s to come to challenge and add to there learning process.



However, if a player is displaying a lack of success or greater difficulty due to a lack of understanding. We can then move down the ladder to ask a potentially more specific question. Take ‘Support Play‘ as an example, if we begin with a broader question using ‘Guided Discovery’ such as;

Create a way as a team to move the ball through the practice quickly where possible and discuss what may help you

We can then regress to;

“What support positions can you adopt as a team to help you retain possession and move the ball quickly”.

Finally if participants are still experiencing a lack of success or contextual understanding we can move down the ladder to a ‘Trial & Error’ or ‘Command’ in which the question/challenge can be rephrased as ‘Can you try to move into a position either in front, to the side, or behind the ball when your team is in possession’.


Step by Step

In a step by step process, we’re aiming to discover based on there cognitive and physical recall on there prior experiences of the topic, there knowledge around;

1) When to support the ball

2) Where to support the ball

3) How to support the ball



We need to judge our interventions and coaching styles around there decision making and success within the practice. Furthermore, a lack of knowledge will be evident from participants who are potentially experiencing limiting success filtering there thought process. By progressing up the ladder and engage in more complex actions.

R. Ensor


Recommended Reading;

Performing Under Pressure by Simon Noakes

Performing Under Pressure

Emotional Intelligence by Simon Noakes

Emotional Intelligence – Leadership


20th January 2018

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