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Training Institute: creating better trainers


by Rutger Oosting | 4 November 2021

PASS Sports Coach Academy wants to create better trainers through coaching, in cooperation with Ubuntu Sport, which organizes sports camps for kids. Here the trainers can put theory to practice. Marco Neuvel is one of the initiators of the training institute. When working for Koninklijke HFC and KNVB he learned that there is more to training children than just coaching and teaching them how to play a sport.  

How are kids coached these days? What works best, positive or negative instructions? How do kids take that? Those are the key questions in PASS, which stands for Personal Athletic Social Skills. “We noticed that coaching and training often focus on improving the skills of children, but not on creating relations with the children’, Neuvel explains. ‘It is important to teach children certain skills through sports: coping with emotions, setting goals, working together and evaluating. Science shows that children find it easier to pick up social skills if they are purposefully coached. If you fail to address this as a trainer, kids will not learn how to handle their emotions. It makes sense, but in practice it is not done enough.’


‘Trainers really play a key role. Trainers are educators in a child’s development: in terms of sports, but also at a personal level. People tend to forget that. Their role is much bigger than just teaching kids how to play football or hockey’, Neuvel emphasizes. ‘That is why we join trainers on the pitch to give examples and show them how to do it: what questions do you ask? What instructions do you give?’

Negative feedback
As an example Neuvel mentions trainers who often say to kids ‘how could you do that’ or simply make gestures of disapproval. ‘We’ve all been there. But you first have to get to know yourself before you can coach someone. If you know that this is your primary response, can you change your behaviour proactively and consciously? For instance, by asking a player to come to you and asking him or her what just happened. That way you don’t condemn their actions. We usually give kids feedback, and don’t talk about how they could do better next time.’

"We went to see Foppe to explain our vision, and how we would like to help trainers and children. He was convinced this is the way to train trainers.’

One of the faces of PASS is Foppe de Haan, who for many years was trainer of sc Heerenveen and Jong Oranje. De Haan believes in the PASS method. ‘Stijn Schaars (former player of PSV and SC Heerenveen, ed.) put us in touch. We went to see Foppe to explain our vision and how we would like to help trainers and children. He was convinced this was the way to train trainers. He does not give a full training, but occasionally joins in. There could be other top coaches in the future.’

FC Utrecht and Kampong
At the time of writing PASS, together with Ubuntu Sport, is active at football club FC Utrecht and hockey club Kampong. ‘At FC Utrecht we work with partner clubs from the area. We hope to raise the level of local amateur trainers. We have two levels. One for trainers with little experience and one for more advanced trainers. If FC Utrecht has better trainers locally, they will attract more talent, which means more growth for FC Utrecht.’


‘And the same goes for trainers. One trainer taking part in the PASS program has meanwhile become active in some sort of entry program of FC Utrecht s youth training. By evolving within PASS, he could eventually become a youth trainer at FC Utrecht. That would complete the circle. There are plenty of opportunities for trainers to grow. And ultimately it gets back to the kids and that’s the main thing’, says Neuvel.

‘You could copy this to basketball or volleyball, for instance’.

What are PASS’s ambitions? ‘We could definitely do with a few more clubs. We are in negotiations already’, says Neuvel. Could PASS be applied to other types of sport? ‘What we do, is fairly generic. Currently we train football and hockey trainers, but you could copy that just as well to basketball or volleyball, for instance. We like the idea of expanding.’

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