Updated: Jun 1
The foundation of IFK Stocksund rests on two pillars, having great coaches to lead and an environment that is both fun and effective. IFK Stocksund, based in Stockholm, Sweden are leading the nations way in youth development. Their sustainable approach for both coaching and player development drives their philosophies on and off the pitch. Using MatchPlay Cards weekly in their youth programme IFK Stocksund are putting the game at the centre to support their player's development.
Unlike repetitive drills or practices, the decisions that the players make are in the realism of the game. These decisions are not pre-determined by the practice or the coach, with many outcomes being uncertain, very much like the game we are preparing players to play.
"The players love them and want them every session!" - Simon Olsson, IFK Stocksund Dames Coach
Preselecting MatchPlay Cards that fit within the session theme or within players IDP (Individual Development Plan) coaches are able to connect players with the game they love, immersing them in an environment where there are continual opportunities to make decisions, solve scenario-specific problems and work collaboratively to #ChangeTheGame.
Developing tactical adaption and game awareness, coaches face the preselected MatchPlay Cards down inviting players to randomly select one (sometimes two!) before giving teams time to build their game plan.
How often do we go into a game knowing what the opposition will do? Yet, how many times do we give each team exactly the same challenge? IFK Stocksund players were challenged to play, identity and adapt to their opposition's MatchPlay Card, creating an environment where players need to think strategically as they consciously seek to find relevant information from the game that will influence their own tactical decisions.
"The most effective players resolve problems in-action and with intent to outwit their opponent, driven by an understanding of how the game is designed" Rethinking teaching games for understanding, Bunker, Thorpe and Almond, 1986
To problem solve on the run through the game extends players awareness of their own problem-solving abilities, facilitating player ownership and increased tools (skills!) to use for each situation given that the solution is not predetermined and publicly known, turning the coaches role from a problem solver to a problem setter, designers of learning.
"We have been using them with our youngsters. Each team draws a card that changes the game conditions. They add challenge and lots of fun" - Simon Olsson, IFK Stocksund Dames Coach
We can't write about IFK Stocksund without mentioning their guiding value of "Be alive", with their website putting it perfectly "Values are not just empty words written down on a piece of paper. It permeates the business and describes what it means to be "IFK Stocksundare". It must be kept alive in the association's daily work, in training, during matches, during long tournaments, inboard decisions and relatives' comments alongside the pitch."
Teams need to understand how living their culture influences behaviours. Each age group has a "values manager", a cultural architect some may say. People follow people, making decisions based on a sense of identity about both themselves and the group.
Founded on 4 principles of design 1) Transfer responsibility 2) Ever-changing environment 3) Train above the game 4) Be reflective, the MatchPlay Card series works with coaches to coach through games, developing the individual within team and checking and challenging learning.
Designed to support you, coach, through games, think more tactically about how you deliver information to players and create an environment that looks and feels like the game, MatchPlay Cards are giving environments choice, challenge, ownership and the opportunity to be a problem solver and problem setter.
How will you #ChangeTheGame with MatchPlay Cards? Join coaches from 33 countries and put the game at the centre with MatchPlay Cards. Shop the full range right here - https://www.thecoachinglab.org/shop (They're totally multisport!)