Coaching creative vs. logical thinking through the generations

I read an article today by Ralph Ammer on He spoke to the differences between seeing vs reading and the respective impacts on our thought processes. The idea of logic and precision is attributed to verbal thinking, whereby we assign a label to something in order to quickly move to the next stimulus. The example he uses is identifying a tree, acknowledging this is a tree and turning our attention to the next stimulus now that we have ‘closed the loop’. Contrastingly, visual thinking stimulates our creative side. We do not merely label the tree, but rather notice its attributes, its connection to the environment, we imagine how the bark might feel, how the leaves rustling might sound – and more.

Ammer’s article was a lovely surprise on my quest to find some coaching materials. I was prompted to consider how we are conditioning ourselves today. As I take on a new role coaching U10s, I am now considering what is the best way to engage these kids in a world that now reduces information to a 5 second video loop or a status post. Through several privileged positions of coaching, I have seen the pre-social media minds of an older generation, my own Generation Y and now an insight into Generation Z. There have been many debates on the impact of social media and the digitization of us, I’m just stirring the pot some more.


Prior to starting up any new coaching gig, I am often asked what my background in coaching is. I give the usual spiel of my experiences, but I am generally questioned about the key differences between coaching adults versus children. To date, my answer has always relayed the same generalization that kids are far easier to coach because they’re obedient. Whereas, the questions that I am asked by my 25+ ladies are sometimes so obscure that I am taken back because I’ve never actually made the consideration myself. It’s fantastic because it really keeps me on my toes.

Rarely do I get the same depth of questions from kids. It’s often more shallow questions with yes or no answers; Is it a race? Can I be on that team? Can we do shooting? Sometimes they absolutely do come up with great, unique ideas, but I can’t help but feel that they are being constrained somewhat.

In a roundabout way, I am coming back to Ammer’s piece to propose the idea that children are losing their ability to creatively think. As with everything in modern times, we are speeding things up, streamlining processes, working with efficiency and precision. Why would we imagine that the upcoming generation will be anything but efficient, precisely focused and logical – when they are immersed in a culture devoted to these values? So perhaps I am mistaking kids’ obedience for a condition of efficiency verging on autonomy.

Will guided learning become absolutely necessary in coaching moving forward in order to stimulate creative thinking? Will kids need to observe unique skills before they can apply them in games, always? If this becomes the case, can Canadian or American children ever reach the heights of Europeans or South Americans who are born into football fandom? So many questions threw themselves at me from Ammer’s article, which had relatively simple messaging.

I would love to hear feedback from anybody, agreeing or disagreeing. Particularly if you’ve been coaching for a long time or had similar variety of experiences!

– F

Decision Making for Players

The WWWWWH of playing soccer. Download the PDF with task:

Decision Making in Games

Collaborative Coaching Model: Getting all major stakeholders onside in player development

PDF Version

Collaborative Coaching Model

Collaborative Coaching Model Diagram showing relationships and questions to ask as a party to development

Once a lament of Louis van Gaal, Philosophy has become a mainstream must for modern coaches. We are encouraged to know why we do what we do, what beliefs provide foundation for our actions and overall how did we get to where we are. If we do not have a clear picture, how can we paint a clear picture for players?
Through philosophizing, I came up with a concept of Collaborative Coaching. This model allows main stakeholders/parties involved in player development to get on the same page. The model provides guidance for Players, Parents, Coaches and Stakeholders (a catchall for Board Members, Officials, Managers etc.). My belief is that we must all be involved and aware of what each other’s role is within player development. Coaches must buy-in to club ideals. Parents must buy-in to coaching methodologies and approach. This, in turn, make it easier for coaches to gain player buy-in. Club’s must understand what parents & players expect. Ultimately, we as coaches have responsibility to a few different parties – which can sometimes put us in the firing line.
The model was created to rid the development process of ambiguity, pose difficult questions and create transparency between parties. Sugar coating what we’re doing may provide short-term relief from pressure, but if you can provide honest insights, long-term success is more likely. Linkages show the relationship associated with a question. For example, the Stakeholder might ask themselves “am I creating a good environment/organizational structure for player development?” which pertains to the Stakeholder/Player relationship.
Let me know your thoughts – are there other questions you would include in your model? Are there different parties you would establish communication channels for? Do you agree with the idea of Collaborative Coaching?

Coach FM


Applying Competitive Intelligence Models for Coach Reflection

This post proposes the use of 2 layered business models as a means of coaching self-reflection. This post explains how to approach and fill two of the most basic models to bring about actionable insights.

Applying my Business Intelligence background to coaching has enabled more objective reflection on my performance. I applied a variety of models and frameworks to my personal reflection in hope of eradicating some biases.

The SWOT model in business identifies strengths (internal), weaknesses (internal), opportunities (external) and threats (external). I actually changed the framework to be SWOTT – which gives action items through use of tools.

Strengths and weaknesses are the foundation for thinking in this model. When I fill the model, I often revisit the strengths and weaknesses even when considering opportunities and threats. Here is a sample of my self-reflection:

swot coaching

The creation of the above SWOT analysis was a step in the right direction for me. I engaged honestly and openly in self-reflection to see where my coaching performance is deficit and, contrastingly, where I excel. However, I looked at the filled model and felt it did not create a call to action, it did not address the deeper meaning for each strength, weakness, what makes an opportunity or a threat.

For the purpose of this post, I conducted a 5 Whys analysis to dissect my top weakness; concision of speech. The premise behind 5 Whys is extremely simple. Steps as follows:

  1. Identify problem
  2. Why is that a problem?
  3. Why is the former statement a problem?
  4. Why is the former statement a problem?
  5. Why is the former statement a problem?
  6. Why is the former statement a problem?
  7. What is the root cause based on this deduction process?
  8. Identify a solution based on the root cause

See my sample 5 Whys analysis here:

Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 21.57.21

This sample layering of SWOT and 5 Whys just scrapes the surface. I could easily conduct a 5 Whys Analysis on my strengths, opportunities or threats. For example, strengths can be strung out to identify the positive characteristics to continue focusing on.

Combining these methods is both a corrective measure of performance, but also a quick quality check for complacency, standards and overall coaching performance. For example, a strength of mine is empowering players – however an opportunity for improvement might be to manage the environment better, maximizing intended outcomes of player empowerment – just an example. 

As I said earlier, the combination of these two frameworks merely scratches the surface of what can be accomplished with competitive intelligence tools and coaching. Watch this space for further use cases. 


Coach Fawn