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Handball training: 7 tips for training an older player


Coaching is a delicate sport, and it can get tricky when you manage someone older, more experienced than you. In these situations, coaches can quickly lose confidence or experience impostor syndrome.

The difference in age, experience and seniority can make relationships complex to manage. Do not panic: if you are the coach of the team and not someone else, there are good reasons. Having experienced this when I trained the pros in Créteil, I know that we can have some doubts at the beginning, I give you here 7 tips that will help you I hope to be the best possible if it happens to you.

1. Trust yourself

Become aware of your comfort zone, list the missions where you are comfortable, be aware of your qualities. What makes you a good coach? Your wisdom, your ambition, your ability to listen, your ability to get a whole team on board behind you, to give confidence, to take risks, to bring out young players? One thing is certain, avoid comparing yourself to your predecessor: age, experience, seniority...

Instead, try to focus on your specificities, on what makes you unique. Are you competitive, pragmatic, tenacious, available, creative, observant, open, pedagogue, honest, realistic, reliable...? What are the adjectives that best define you? Have your qualities in mind! Do not hesitate to ask those around you for help if you find this exercise too difficult. There are surely colleagues, people in the club with whom you interacted, who can help you. I remember having a discussion with a young coach of the club where he had spoken to me about the way in which he perceived my coaching which had done me a lot of good.

2. Be in a learning dynamic

Learning goes both ways: from the coach to the players, but also from the players to the coach! Do not forget to be in an open posture, to remain curious and to listen to your players. Ask them technical and thoughtful questions to better analyze the workings of the team, but also to learn from each person's expertise and missions. There may be some of your players who have experienced higher competition: playing nationally while the team today is in the region, for example. There are bound to be ideas that can help you.


Issam Tej had played 9 world championships and 3 Olympic tournaments, as much to tell you that he was a great help when I trained him.

3. Give your players autonomy

Avoid micro-management, abusive control of your players. Incessant and intrusive control will tend to frustrate or annoy your players who will not feel trustworthy. The best gift you can give them is to adopt a cooperative attitude. Don't withhold information and above all, don't forget to delegate: it strengthens group cohesion and proves that you believe in the goodwill and hard work of the team. Everyone will then feel involved.

Become aware of your qualities, of what makes you a good coach

Also adapt to their way of working. If the youngest use and abuse new technologies, understand that their use is more often synonymous with constraint for their elders. Make sure everyone is comfortable with the tools used and consider changes gently and flexibly, easier said than done...

4. Admit you don't know everything

The role of the coach is not to know everything about everything. You are there to support the team, encourage it, give it ambitious but achievable goals. You have the right not to know everything or know everything. Even if not everyone agrees with that in sport, I am convinced of it!

There is nothing to be ashamed of and it is even normal. Think of the CEO of a company: he is probably much less expert than his managers on their areas of expertise, yet he is the one who directs them.

5. Challenge your team to help them excel

Give him the opportunity to progress. Set ambitious but achievable goals with her. Each member of your team has been recruited for an expertise and you are there to remind them. Such a player has been recruited for his arm, another for his defensive qualities, another for his game intelligence... Also help them to progress in their game. career: “Where do you want to go? What do you want to learn? How can I help you to achieve this personal goal? All players have...

Do not hesitate to remind your players of their qualities, help them achieve their goals, everyone has them, even the oldest.

6. Ask them for feedback

You say to yourself, he's crazy! Well no, I did it when I was training the Nationale 1, I regret not having done it with the pros (probably because it was not "done"...).

Stay open to discussion, encourage the sharing of ideas and information. Give feedback, but also accept feedback. Try to accept blame and don't try to protect your ego. Confront, with benevolence, the players who could question your legitimacy, between adults the discussions must be used to progress!

7. Be the one managing the whole project

Your role is to step back and coordinate the skills and members of your team. This is how you will help your team move in the right direction and achieve their goals!

Of course there is the "technical" part in training, but getting the best out of each player on a managerial level is what will often make the difference in a match...


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