Meet: Gérard Jones, MSc, PGCE
Current Roles: Director of Coaching & Player Development at John Jay FC in Katonah-Lewisboro, New York. Responsible for Staff Development in Connecticut and New York for UK Elite Soccer. Men’s Head Coach at John Jay High School (U19s). USSF Coach Educator.
Other: Business Owner, Author, Public Speaker, Coach Educator, Teacher
Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
Gérard Jones, 29, from York (England), coaching for over 14+ years across all levels from professional through to grassroots in the UK, US, Italy, Norway and NZ.
Coached as an Academy Coach at Rochdale AFC, U21 Assistant with Bradford City AFC and Head of Academy Coaching at Bristol Rovers FC within the Elite Player Performance Plan Academy structure in England at Cat 3 level. I have also served as a Head Coach/1stTeam Manager at non-league level with Eccleshill United FC in the North East Counties League Division 1, originally starting as the U19s Head Coach, progressing onto become the Reserve Team Coach and First-Team Coach and later 1stteam Head Coach/Manager. Other roles include working as a College Head Coach at Bradford College in the ECFA Cat 2, University Head Coach at University of Huddersfield and as Head Academy Coach at RIASA (American college academy), along with several roles coaching at grassroots youth levels in schools and communities to becoming a Director of Coaching at Arsenal Soccer Schools.
My journey as a coach has allowed me to work with adults and youth, professionals, semi-pros and amateurs, student-athletes and disabilities in the men’s and women’s game.
I am currently working as a Director of Coaching & Player Development at John Jay FC in Katonah-Lewisboro, New York in the US where I am responsible for the growth and development of the Club, it’s programs , players and staff – directly influencing over 800 players weekly across ages of 2-19 years old. This role is combined with being responsible for Staff Development in Connecticut and New York for UK Elite Soccer coaches working across different levels alongside being the Men’s Head Coach at John Jay High School (U19s) coaching full-time student-athletes during the High-School season.
As a coach developer, I have ran my own business called Premier Skills Yorkshire where I delivered independent coach education and player development centers throughout Yorkshire using a Play-Practice methodology that is now being integrated within US Soccer Federation’s Player Development Curriculum. I have tutored as a Coach Educator for the Football Association of Wales on the FAW C Certificate course in North & South Wales and I am currently one of only a few select individuals throughout the entire US to be identified and recommended to deliver USSF Grassroots Specialist Coaching courses at 4v4/7v7/9v9/11v11 and up to D Licence level as a USSF Grassroots Coaching Instructor.
I have also ran my own coaching business for more nearly 10 years, which has evolved over the years from originally starting as a coaching company delivering sessions in schools and community working with grassroots teams throughout Yorkshire to running Advanced Skills Centers for boys and girls aged from 6-12 year olds, to gravitating into Public Speaking, Coach Mentoring and Education including private One-to-One Training.
Gerard School of Football was originally listed as a Top 100 Best Business Start-up in the UK in 2010.
How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports?
Parents have a significant role to play where they have to offer unconditional support and ‘attention’ to their children and others which means, praise and encourage effort not the ability or performance outcome primarily. The focus should be on encouraging learning, enjoyment, friendships and seeing youth-sports as a vehicle to promote healthy activity, competition and challenges.
Parents should avoid placing unnecessary pressure on children to perform and see their role as the supporter and encourager of their love for sport.
What are the benefits of being a positive youth sports parents?
Young players playing sport for life! Retention is key! Whatever the game, it’s the players game to own, therefore if the parents are positive – we can hopefully achieve lifelong participation in sport which is huge across any format, level or role.
Positive encouragement will reinforce better communication between the coach-player-parent, foster greater relationships and enjoyment, creativity and recruitment of others into the sport.
What advice would you give any youth sports parents, with a talented son/daughter and ambition also drive to reach the highest level?
Offer unconditional support and attention, share advice when asked and only when you consider the following questions (will this hinder or help?) and encourage a relentless obsession and challenge them to be better and work hard but not at the detriment of learning, enjoyment, fun, or other factors in life that they may feel are important.
It’s their life, they are in the driving seat, we can guide but ultimately it’s the child who has to take ownership if they want to reach the highest levels! You can’t do it for them!
- Advice to the player
Identify what your strengths are and what areas you want/need to develop and create a plan to work on them! Identify who you may need to help you and seek them out, find support from whereever you can and surround yourself with individuals who are performing at higher levels than you, so that you can study their behaviour, rituals/habbits and actions to situations and see what you need to do to reach that level and above.
Never stop working at your strengths and areas of development, never stop learning! Build and manage key relationships with people, have a vision/target – write it down and stare at it every day to work towards it! Be aware of how others perceive you and how you can manage your reputation!
2. Advice to the parents
Do what you think is right, trust your ‘gut instincts’ and try not to the be expert in everything
In your experience as a coach, how does negative approaches from the parents, affect the player?
Ultimately you can become a distraction and turn the kids away from playing which is what we don’t want to do. Avoid coaching from sidelines, leave it to the coaches – let the kids figure out for themselves
What advice would you give coaches regarding youth sports parents?
A lot of clubs talk about ‘Parent Education’ and this should be rephrased as Parent ENGAGEMENT, it’s not about telling parents what you want, talking at them and treating them as if they are the enemy or naive, instead recognise that some of these parents are highly skilled and intelligent, some may be professors in their own right in skill development? Business leaders, lawyers or whatever. Use their experience, communicate with them regularly, don’t shut them out of the child’s life and engage with them!
What advice would you give youth sports parents for the car journey to and from youth sports practices and/or games?
Be specific with your information, encourage and tell them how proud you are and praise their attitude and effort and check their attitude and effort if it needs to be improved. Avoid focusing all your effort and attention on their ‘talent or what they did technically/performance wise’ as if you only praise the ‘no. of goals they scored for example and in the next game they didn’t score, you’re telling them that they didn’t play well’.
It’s all psychology! I would focus on setting them a ‘specific task’ within the game that is measureable and aligned with what the coach is working on and the Club wants as this is a great way to help your child meet the expectations of that program.
What types of behaviours/mannerisms/comments would you encourage parents to demonstrate?
Pre: work hard, if you make a mistake don’t worry it’s all learning, see it as credit, if you make a bad pass for example, how can you get yourself back in credit? By making a simple pass or action next time and build your confidence in the game.
Post: How did you think you did? Did you achieve your objectives? What did coach say? well done, I love how hard you worked, proud of you! Love you! etc
What is next for you as a coach /club /organization?
Complete my training with US Soccer to become a Licensed Grassroots Instructor and impact on millions of players and coaches by sharing best practices and methodologies to develop better coaches and better players who are independent thinkers, self-learners.
Work towards completing UEFA Pro Licence and reflect on experiences as a Director of Coaching, Coach and Coach Developer to work at the highest levels of the sport.
You can find more about Gerard on these social media outlets:
Massive thank you,Gerard for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.