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Leading From The Front - Rob Jones

'...input some of what the player wants, add what I believe the player needs and incorporate what the player needs to have accomplished at the end of the session'.

Name, age, where are you based?

Rob Jones, aged 40 Yarm County Durham

Current and past roles:

Head Coach American Academy

Cat 1 Academy Coach Middlesbrough fc

U12s coach Grimsby Town

U14s coach Sheffield Wednesday

U15s coach Hartlepool United

U17s coach Hibernian Fc

Player/ manager Doncaster Rovers

U23 Head coach Doncaster Rovers






How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?

I started my coaching pathway at a very early stage in professional football. In early 2004 I started in the academy at Grimsby Town u12s, coaching alongside playing.

In every club from then on, I coached within the academy at various age levels until I played at Doncaster rovers, where I firstly became the joint player manager and then whilst still playing took over the clubs u23s squad This is where my philosophy and coaching style began to become much more structured and driven. Throughout it all there was no doubt in my mind that coaching was going to be my career after playing.

I have now since retired and have been a head coach to over 80 players per season for the last three years, where I have been able to collate a coaching syllabus of session plans of which I know work.

Any Major achievements?

Whilst player manager at Doncaster we won League one on the final day of the season.

U23 runners up in the final third development league.

Two league titles as Head Coach in Lancashire league semi-professional status.

And along with this i'm proud to have been involved in running a grass roots team every season, for the last 7 years coaching my oldest son in the TJFA league.

Can you share more about your role with RIASA, what is the playing level like and are there any major adaptions needed to make as a coach, as opposed to when coaching British based players?

Coaching American players is very different to British, many times I have seen how American based players are quite a way behind the British and European players in terms of Tactical understanding and physical presence. As a result, my coaching style needed to be stripped back and become much clearer, focusing on specific traits as we progressed through the seasons.

The style that I have taught is a passing, flowing and controlled way. Very different to the way grass roots is coached in America.

How would you say this compares in terms of player development with British professional academies and what opportunities does it provide for coaches to develop?

Having been in the professional academy environment most of my playing career, it teaches you the simple traits which positively affects how you coach as time progresses. The introduction of the premier league PMA has been an invalid tool in being organised, disciplined and much more computer literate in reference to correlating player performance. It also gives you the coach a focus on the specific task/theme needed to be coached in a given session.

Having started coaching when you were still playing professionally, did this have an effect on your understanding of the game from a coaches point of view, and what experiences was you able to take away from this and put into full-time coaching?

I set out to have my UEFA A licence completed before I retired from playing and thankfully I attained that target. Understanding the coaching side of the game whilst still playing is I believe an enormous advantage, not just for the player, but for the team and coaching department too. I was a player who coached within the game and along with being captain for every club I played for, it also helped to encourage players to listen and administering my ideas and thoughts.

What’s been best for your development so far and how do you ensure that you are constantly developing yourself in all the areas required?

Having attempted to do all my coaching badges within the same education program ((SFA) I believe this has given me continuity in my style and vision as a coach. Throughout my career like many coaches, I had the opportunity to play for a numerous amount of mangers, all with their own styles, and as I was coaching already, I would take specific traits from each (good and bad). I was always studious and never shied away from asking questions or disagreeing if I thought it was needed. This has helped transform me into the coach I am right now.

My philosophy for creating my own session plans are as follows, input some of what the player wants, add what I believe the player needs and incorporate what the player needs to have accomplished at the end of the session.

What have been the biggest challenges you had to overcome and how did you get past them?

Having been a defender and leader all of my career, sometimes there is an expectation that my style would be a defensive one with a structured defensive unit, stopping teams attacking our goal. The reality is, my style is the complete opposite.

As a leader it is perceived that the leader does not need any help from others. This again is wrong and I presently have a great coaching staff who all have an input into sessions, team formations, ideas for future games and an open-door policy.

But the biggest challenge is that of trust, after coming out of the playing environment trust was very difficult for me as I have certain expectations and a vision of how I want things done, I fell foul of this when I became interim manager of Doncaster Rovers the second time - I did everything myself and overloaded on what the main focus was. I did not trust the staff I inherited. Big learning curve for me.

What’s next for you, any thoughts on the future?

I really enjoy passing my knowledge and expertise from my fruitful playing career onto players, regardless of ability or standard. I just love coaching.

In the future I would like to return to the professional environment as a coach/manager, as this is my real passion now that I have retired.

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