Coaching ● Jun 26, 2020
Local coaches benefit from Elite Coaching Applications webinar series by Ivan Jolic
SINGAPORE, 26 JUNE 2020 – Over the course of two weeks, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) held the two-part Elite Coaching Applications webinar series, which concluded on 10 June.
Helmed by Ivan Jolic, the current Assistant Coach of the Australian women’s national team and the A-League’s newest team, Macarthur FC, each session was attended by close to 100 participants. They comprised a mix of Head Coaches, Heads of Youth Development, Centre of Excellence (COE) Coaches from the AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) clubs, as well as other local-based coaches.
Jolic, 45, was identified to helm the sessions due to his extensive experience in elite coaching methodologies and mentoring expertise. The former National Soccer League player, who holds a Football Federation of Australia (FFA)/AFC Pro License, is also a FFA Coach Developer and drew on his extensive research and experience at top clubs in Europe and Asia to provide insight for the participants.
The webinar, which is part of the FAS Technical Capability Development Series that aims to upskill local coaches and technical staff, began last Tuesday afternoon (4 June). Throughout the hour-long session, Jolic touched on the current trend of possession-based football and its implications on teams’ successes. Trends from Europe’s top five leagues since 2015 till present were analysed, along with annual reports from FIFA’s Technical Study Group to highlight how the most successful teams tend to adopt a short and quick-passing game.
In the second session, Jolic then demonstrated the importance of planning – this meant having a properly detailed schedule set up for the team, both on and off the field, so that players and staff know when and where they need to be and what they need to do. “The players understand that as a professional footballer, you have to work professional hours,” he said, drawing on examples from the Westfield Matildas’ recent friendlies against Chile and his time as assistant coach at A-League sides Melbourne City and Central Coast Mariners.
“The primary aim of the first webinar was to expose coaches to some objective facts relating to current trends in the modern game,” Jolic told FAS.org.sg. “The data clearly showed that teams controlling the game via possession are most successful. If we use a simplistic metric of measuring controlled possession (known as Pass Per 90), we see that the most successful teams average well above 600 passes. The average of all teams across the top five leagues in Europe is approximately 440.
“In the second webinar, I wanted to share my experiences (as I was) hopeful of exposing the coaches to ‘Best Practise Workflows’ of a professional coach and how this process can be used effectively to bring a playing style to life.”
Hougang United Head Coach, Clement Teo, reflected favourably on the series and described it as “very useful and applicable” for current coaching methods. “Ivan’s first session on tactical possession was good and while it focused largely on the basic aspects of the game, it was refreshing and reminded the need to get back to basics forms the fundamentals of being a successful team,” he told FAS.org.sg. “The second topic on planning of training sessions and preparation for games, had many pointers which are (also) very helpful.” He suggested that a potential topic for future webinars could be on player psychology, as he is interested in understanding how players react to adversity.
Joseph Ng, Under-15 Head Coach at Tampines Rovers, offered his own reflection from the first session. “In trainings and games at youth level, players definitely learn much more with the ball as opposed to not having it,” he told FAS.org.sg. “However, I see possession and number of passes as only tools, not an objective or an end goal… completing a high number of passes or having a huge percentage of possession does not necessarily equate to a team scoring or creating good scoring opportunities.
“The ability to play forward is key (as well). In other words, if a team can play more forward passes that result in (for example) 10 possible assists and goals in 200 passes, they will definitely understand and execute possession better than a team creating only five possible assists and goals for every 400 passes.”
Such critical thinking was seen throughout both sessions in the high level of engagement between the coaches and speaker, with Jolic often encouraging participants to voice their thoughts and opinions – something that the 45-year-old was “really happy” to see.
“The level of questioning and dialogue clearly indicates the Singaporean coaching pool is on the right path,” he said. “The level of football knowledge was pleasing to see. I thoroughly enjoyed presenting and would love to reconnect with the coaches in the not-too-distant future.”
FAS Technical Director, Joseph Palatsides, noted that the series helped to facilitate “constructive discussion” among the coaches and helped them to compare the methods used in local environments to global best practices.
“We can (think about how we can) possibly take some, or all elements, to improve our training structures and therefore improve our footballers and teams across all our elite leagues – therefore raising the standards of football in Singapore,” he said. “From the feedback and conversations I have had, both webinars achieved the goals that were set and I am sure all coaches left with some valuable information to help them prepare for football after the Circuit Breaker.”
Jolic emphasised that the learning journey for coaches is a constant one. “I always suggest coaches continue to watch top level football and analyse games,” he concluded. “Also, always try and validate subjective thoughts with objective data analysis. Coaches also need to continue to challenge their current staff, players and processes on a daily basis in an attempt to drive continuous improvement.”