Coaches Corner | Coach Interview: STEVEN DILLON
ETS would like to introduce you to STEVEN DILLON (Coach Development Manager At NEW ZEALAND Football). We are very privileged to have Coach STEVEN as he has been doing some sensational work in NEW ZEALAND. This week in the COACHES Corner, Coach STEVEN shares some insights and his coaching journey so far.
Q: CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE US A BRIEF INTRO ABOUT YOURSELF PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE:
A: Being involved in football coaching from the age of 16 in a variety of community coaching programs both domestically and overseas, really fuelled my ambition to be involved in football in a full time basis and lead me in to a completion of a degree in BA (Hons) Football Studies. I am now 29 and have been involved in full time federation (county FA) football since 2010 as a Football Development Officer for Auckland Football Federation before moving to New Zealand Football at 26 as National Coach Development Manager and have been in that role ever since, helping provide access and opportunity for over 20,000 coaches nationwide through their ongoing coach development.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR COACHING PHILOSOPHY AND HOW DID YOU CREATE YOUR PHILOSOPHY?
A: Mine is ever evolving and is constantly influenced by my own experiences as well as interactions with others. The first distinction to make is to separate your coaching philosophy, the way you coach, from your playing philosophy, which is the way you want your teams to play. Its influenced constantly by the way I work in my role and the content we produce as part of the NZF Coach Development Pathway and is supplemented by observing and studying the coaching behaviours of other coaches both domestically and overseas.
Q: IN YOUR OPINION WHAT IS THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL SKILL FOR A PLAYER/COACH TO MASTER?
A: In reference to a coach, whilst I don’t think there is a fundamental skill, there are particular areas that are an easy way of sorting and categorizing your coaching knowledge and expertise. The first is having a Vision & Philosophy, everyone has one, some clearer and more articulated than others, however everyone has beliefs on how the game should be played in their eyes and subsequently a method on how to bring this to life. It would make sense to look at the match as one of the core competencies, where coaches should look at how they operate in the lead up to, during and post-match. Other areas to consider are how coaches operate in the training phase, on the training field and all the processes around it. The area which I feel is seldom considered in any great detail is around Management of Self and Management of Others. Football coaching is a people business that relies on strong interpersonal skills and therefore understanding yourself and the way you think and operate is vital before you can then start to understand and influence other people’s behaviours, whether this is players, coaches or staff. It is difficult to find many top coaches who do not operate with a detailed process of coaching in all these categories and therefore is vital for coaches at all levels that they start to explore these.
Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE NEW COACHES STARTING THEIR COACHING JOURNEY?
A: To start coaching and to coach as much as possible. Research and desktop study are vital components of ongoing exploration and development however nothing can replace the experiential learning you get from being out there on the training field or on the side-line during the game. Beyond this, be comfortable enough to try new things, make mistakes, create new games rather than copying from a book or from YouTube and take risks. Mistakes and errors that result in reflection and action will continually enable coaches to refine their craft and make the experience for their players as enjoyable and as beneficial as possible, regardless of their age of level of competition that they are playing at.
Q: HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH SET BACKS (POOR PERFORMANCES, INJURIES, LOSING, ETC)?
A: We have to accept that set backs are part of any organisation, any sport and any team. We sometimes make these out to be bigger than they really are and the emotion of the event heightens the sense of disappointment and lack of perspective in the bigger picture. The beauty of set-backs, is that while naturally no one wants them to occur, is that they provide as a coach you a chance to learn and take action on how best to deal with these situations or positions of adversity next time this comes around. Over time, you will start to notice particular patterns of behaviour and will create mechanisms by which to approach these scenarios in the future.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST LIFE LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT FROM FOOTBALL?
A: To not try and copy anyone else and be comfortable being yourself. When you are starting out in coaching especially, you tend to try and replicate another coach who you hold in a position of esteem. You soon pick up on mannerisms, sayings and even start to copy their session design or the way in which they approach games. Whilst this may be necessary in the infancy of your coaching journey, the point in which I started to move from this copy approach to the creation of my own way was the moment where I felt I flourished the most as a coach and now have the ability to create my own opinions and beliefs on how the game is played and coached and have my own way of approaching and thinking about football.
Q: WHICH COACH/MANAGER INSPIRES YOU?
A: I have many. Many from in football, many outside of our sport and provide inspiration in a variety of ways. I have found myself naturally being drawn towards people that have similar beliefs than myself however it is important to not dismiss others. Everyone views the world in a different way, based on their experiences within their perception of reality. One of my core beliefs is that there is no one way to coach and therefore shouldn’t rule out seeking inspiration from you, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. I am a firm believe that you can pick things up from every coach, either to strengthen your own opinion or to learn new things that you may not have seen before.