Prominent German coach Thomas Schaaf gave a wealth of invaluable tips to coaches studying for their UEFA Pro licence at the latest UEFA coach education student exchange course in Nyon.
He provided a fascinating insight into his own coaching career and philosophies, and talked about the life and work of a top club coach on and off the field, firstly in an interview with UEFA head of football education services Frank Ludolph, and then in a question and answer session with the student coaches from Armenia, Finland, Serbia and Sweden.
Schaaf spent 14 years in charge of Werder Bremen – for whom he was also a long-serving player – and led them to a series of domestic trophies in Germany, as well as making regular appearances in UEFA competitions. He has also coached Eintracht Frankfurt.
What a coach must be and do
"A coach needs to be well-prepared and has to know what he is talking about," said Schaaf. "He has to be authentic and be himself, develop his own philosophy and have a clear line. He must have a strong personality as well." Schaaf expressed support for the view that coaches should avoid short-term studies in favour of a long-term, profound education. "Coaches nowadays do not just focus on the team," he reflected. "They are like top managers who have to work together with the club's management, and they must know, for example, how to deal with the media."
The course, overseen by members of the UEFA Jira Panel and UEFA technical instructors, helps the students, many of whom are former professional footballers, further along the road in their coaching careers, and also affords an invaluable opportunity for national associations to exchange coaching information and expertise. The objective is to give UEFA Pro licence students the chance of international dialogue, as well as access to UEFA, its tutors and educational materials.
More than 1,600 Pro licence students have attended the UEFA student exchange course. Sessions include analysis of the personal characteristics that a modern-day coach requires in this demanding profession, current trends and talking points in top-level football, building a successful side, specific coaching for goalkeepers, and how the coach handles the media as part of his everyday work.
The agenda for the 20th such course since 2011 also featured technical and tactical analysis of a UEFA Champions League group-stage game from the third matchday, and practical training sessions.