A Licence coach, and now author, Ray Power takes some time out to answer a few questions about his coaching journey and his brilliant new book ‘Making The Ball Roll’. We would like to thank Ray for taking the time to answer our questions.
Q – Ray, before we talk about the book, just give us a brief idea of your experiences as a football/soccer coach. Where did it all start, and how have you progressed to what you are doing today?
I came to England in 2007 to pursue a career in coaching football/soccer, having dabbled in grassroots coaching in Ireland and Switzerland, and having spent three years as a school teacher. I suppose it was a bit of a risk.
Once in England I immersed myself in the game, progressing through my coaching badges to achieve my UEFA A Licence in 2012. I have worked with various age-groups across Academy football and in college football. I am lucky enough now to be on the grass working with good players on a daily basis, and am able to implement my visions on developing youth players.
Q – You have previous experience in a teaching role. How has that aided your development as a coach, and more recently as a coach educator?
It has been invaluable. Although you are ‘teaching’ in a different environment, many of the essential traits remain the same – although on the training pitch your ‘learners’ are highly motivated and engaged for the most part. I refer a lot to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which says you need to cater for a young person’s basic needs before expecting to be able to teach them anything. Coaching styles for example, whether ‘Command’ or ‘Guided Discovery’, are used on pitches and in classrooms. There is a whole chapter of Making the Ball Roll dedicated to teaching and learning in soccer.
In terms of coach education, I get to mix the two things I love most – mentoring coaches in both a classroom environment and on the pitch.
Whether most will admit it or not, coaching is teaching. For me, both terms can be interchanged, something we speak about extensively in the book, which I think the readers will enjoy.
Q – So, we are here to talk about your new book, “Making the Ball Roll”. When is the book available for people to buy? Will it be available in different formats? E.g Kindle.
The book is available now! It is available on Amazon in print. We are working through some kinks with the Kindle version due to the diagrams throughout the book, but hopefully it will be out as an e-book soon also. It can also be purchased at www.bennionkearny.com/power
Q – Who is the book aimed at?
Myself and James at Bennion Kearny put a lot of thought into who exactly would be the main target audience would be. We settled on the word “aspiring” in the sub-title as it seemed just about right. It is aimed at those who want to be better coaches – whether you are an Academy coach at Liverpool, or an unqualified coach with a local, grassroots team. The book is designed to be thought-provoking, supporting theory with lots of examples from the professional game all over the world – it will challenge all levels of coaches, although maybe in different ways.
Q – Without giving too much away, can you give our followers an idea of what sorts of topics the book covers?
Aside from Introduction and Concluding chapters, there are 14 chapters in all, each dealing with a specific theme – from technical and tactical work with youth players, to communication methods and leadership. Other chapters include soccer psychology, age-appropriate coaching, developing syllabi and physically developing youth players. I have attempted to make Making the Ball Roll a one-stop shop for coaches – hence why its come in at over 350 pages!
To help with dealing with lots of topics, I reference lots of examples from the professional youth game and also consult lots of my fellow coaches who have provided their story on how they have worked with players around certain topics. I would like to again take this opportunity to thank those who have contributed to the book. There are quite a few, and others that preferred to remain anonymous, but I am grateful to them all! They know who they are.
Q – Give us an idea of the ideas and aims behind “Making the Ball Roll”?
The ultimate aim is to give youth coaches lots of new ideas when they are working with players, and also to dispel some common myths that are prevalent in youth soccer. The central theme is about helping coaches to help players achieve peak performance – and the optimum ways of doing this. The youth player is central to everything in the book – improving them by improving the coaches.
Q – We have read a few snippets from the book, it’s a fantastic read. What inspired you to put all your ideas together?
The inspiration comes from my own reading and development as a coach. I have spent lots of time (and lots of money!) reading and gathering resources, plus formal and informal coach education and study visits to clubs. I found myself having to go to literally hundreds of different places to seek the information and learning that I was looking for. I have books on technical practices, others about communication, tactics, physical development, psychology, handling parents and so on. For those who use Twitter as a coaching tool for example, they can download dozens of documents, articles and session plans on a daily basis, but may not have the time or energy to dissect them all.
I always wanted a book that dealt with everything. If readers want to learn more about specific aspects, then I have sign-posted resources and books along the way.
Q – We hope the book is a huge success, your experiences and views are sure to help and improve coaches at all levels of the game. What are your coaching aims for the future? Is this the start of a writing career?
When I arrived in England, I never could have foreseen what was to come. I passed my FA Level 2 on arrival and got a job in community football development. Now, seven years later, I am tutoring Level 2 courses, have achieved my A Licence and work full-time in football – and am a published author! Those were all targets of mine when I made the decision to leave teaching for football.
I am always keen to learn, develop and leave my comfort zone, so I am hoping to progress and challenge myself. Ultimately I want to work in a position where I can influence both youth players and coaches, whether that is with a national association or a major Academy. Working abroad also appeals to me. I guess I am open-minded!