Coaching Spotlight: Josh Lazarus

Coaching Spotlight: Josh Lazarus

Josh received the NSFA Coaching Scholarship in 2018 after his commitment to coaching within the region, taking on the St Ives FC Womens All Age and a Program Leader role with NSFA’s XLR8 Player Development Programs. 

A local lad, with lots to give and a deep passion for teaching!

How did you first become involved in football?

Football is something that has always been in my family. My parents love it, my grandparents love it, it was hard for me to not fall in love with the game. I remember being very little and my dad taking me to Vicarage Road in Watford to watch them play Arsenal in the Premier League and loving everything about it from the match itself to the atmosphere in the crowd. That later translated to a love of the game on the pitch when I was old enough to start playing and I’ve been involved with the game ever since.

When did you step into coaching, how has this benefitted you?

A couple of years ago I started playing in a mixed 6-a-side futsal team and the women in the team all played in the same weekend team which needed a coach. They heard I was very vocal on the field and asked if I would be interested in becoming their coach and being vocal on their sideline. I agreed but decided I needed to learn a bit more about coaching so went on a grassroots coaching course. This then lead to me coaching with XLR8 and later becoming a recipient of one of the NSFA coaching scholarships in 2018 to complete my C Licence. Since then I have coached not only the women’s team but also multiple players and teams from under 6 to all age.

Through coaching I have been able to share my passion and playing experience with multiple other players. It’s been really enjoyable joining a team and being able to help them grow both as individual players and as a whole team and being able to see the results. In my first season with the women’s team they improved out of sight and won the competition, and this year they have stepped up another level and are pushing every opposition team to their limits in a new, higher division.

You have recently taking steps towards becoming a coach presenter/developer, what do you value as key coaching skills?

It’s been really exciting having the opportunity to work towards being a coach presenter/ developer! It’s fascinating to see different perspectives of coaches and all their ideas.

I think the main thing I talk about when I’m working with coaches is confidence, clarity and flexibility.

You need to be seen as confident in what you are doing, even if you are not. If the players believe you and buy into what you are saying and doing then it will be a successful session.

Clarity is important, not only in what is said, but also in what is set out. When communicating with our players, we need to be clear and concise in our communication so that they understand what we want from them, but don’t confuse them with too much or too little information. Think about how long you would want someone talk at you for! For our sessions, colour coding cones and using bibs can be vital tools to explaining a drill, game or coaching point and are often under utilised or used poorly. A parent should be able to walk up to your session and understand boundaries and teams without asking anyone.

Finally, flexibility is my most important value as we cannot write a session and stick to it word for word. How often do we start a conversation thinking it will end one way and it ends up somewhere completely different?!?! Football is a complex, chaotic game. If we don’t recreate that chaos then we aren’t training our players in a game realistic way. Often when we are flexible and adapt our trainings and drills, that is when we have the best sessions or come up with new ideas or drills that we couldn’t have thought of starting at our pad of paper. Be flexible, try new ideas and if they don’t work, then try something else, you might stumble across something really amazing!!

What would you describe as a perfect environment for junior players?

Honestly, the best environment for juniors is one where learning to love the game is priority and winning is just something nice on the side. If our juniors are given the opportunity to learn the game in a positive and constructive manner then they will play the game for life. I think too many people are focused on winning games and intense tactics when really they should focus on building the love of the game to want to learn that content, practising the basic skill set to develop later to that point and learning the game rules. There is too much pressure on the younger players, LET THEM PLAY!

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