It is important for coaches to try and conduct regular interviews with players in order to gain insights into their thoughts, feelings, and experiences on and off the field.
These interviews can help coaches understand the players’ motivations, goals, and challenges, and can provide an opportunity for coaches to offer guidance and support.
By regularly checking in with players, coaches can also identify and address any issues or concerns that may be affecting the players’ performance or well-being.
Additionally, regular interviews can help build trust and strengthen the relationship between coach and player, which can in turn enhance team cohesion and performance.
Conducting an interview
- Have clear outcomes in mind: Before the interview, coaches should consider what they hope to achieve through the conversation and what questions they want to ask. This can help ensure that the conversation is focused and productive.
- Link in individual development plans: Players should have some form of plan that helps them identify their goals, and the specific focuses they want to achieve within football. The interview should focus on this plan, where applicable.
- Create a safe and comfortable environment: It is important that players feel at ease during the interview so that they can openly share their thoughts and feelings. Coaches should make sure that the space is private and that players feel comfortable speaking openly.
- Use open-ended questions: Rather than asking yes-or-no questions, coaches should use open-ended questions to encourage players to share more detailed responses. Examples of open-ended questions include “What do you enjoy most about playing soccer?”, “What are some challenges you have faced on the team?”, and “What are your goals for the season?”
- Practice active listening: Coaches should be fully present and attentive during the interview, showing genuine interest in what the player has to say. They should avoid interrupting or finishing the player’s sentences, and should try to summarize and reflect back what the player has said to show that they are listening and understanding.
- Be non-judgmental: It is important that coaches approach the interview with an open and non-judgmental mindset. This will help players feel safe to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of being judged or criticized.
- Follow up: After the interview, coaches should consider any next steps or follow-up actions that may be needed based on what was discussed. This could include providing additional support or resources, or setting up a follow-up meeting to check in on progress.
When to do interviews
Coaches should consider at least one formal interview process during a season. This should take place before or around the halfway point of the season, so that players have the opportunity to implement the feedback provided.
More advanced programs in the NWSF pathway may provide more than one formal interview process.
In both cases, interviews should be scheduled through a team manager. Players younger than 18 should attend the interview with an appropriate parent or guardian. Interviews can be as short or long as required, although coaches should be mindful of being concise and ensuring the interview outcomes are achieved.
In some environments, a formal interview process may not be appropriate or overwhelming. More casual conversations, either with parents, players, or both, can replace this process. Alternatively, the coach may identify alternative ways of providing individual feedback.