Name, age, where you are based?
Lloyd Miller, 27, Buffalo - New York.
My current role is Director of Coaching at GPS Buffalo. The role sees me assist in overseeing the running of the club.
I have my UEFA B Coaching Licence and also have a MSc Professional Practice in Sports Coaching degree (Northumbria University, England). In addition, I have several F.A qualifications, as well as a Australian FA Conditioning Licence.
How did you get into coaching?
My desire to coach, help, teach and inspire others was fundamentally down to having great coaches and role models myself. Once old enough to volunteer, I thought I want to do the same. As a 17 year old, I was still playing myself but I wanted to give something back to a coach, who wasn’t part of a organised football club but ran his own coaching company from a school field and had done for 7 years. So after picking up the phone, not even sure if he still had the same number, I reached out to my first ever football coach and a week later I was out on the field putting down and picking up cones for him. I loved it. Back where it all began for me.
What is your training focus with your current teams?
The focus for the teams I am coaching have a mix of different objectives which all center around enjoying their football and falling in love with the game. A second objective is to enable the players I work with to understand the game through learning the technical and tactical aspects of the game with appreciation of their age and ability. These two key objectives are fundamental in my planning for not only sessions, but each and every season.
What’s been the best thing for your personal development?
I truly believe that the best thing for my personal development has been a joint contribution of working with coaches around the world who have shown me what, how, and why they coach. This has accelerated my learning in some challenging situations around the world. A second fundamental contribution from working within a strong network of coaches at the Newcastle United Foundation over a 5 year period.
What things have been challenging?
Some of the challenges I have been faced with during my coaching journey entail working with coaches who have fixed mind sets and language barriers. Firstly, working with people who have open and closed mindsets both share their own challenges. On one hand, those with open mindsets will challenge you in a positive and productive way and on the other hand, those with a closed mind set will challenge you in transferring your knowledge and ideas to them whilst taking them on board. Also, their engagement in a constant learning environment is also linked to their mindset.
Finally, from working in English speaking countries to non-English speaking countries, I have been challenged with not only speaking slower and less ‘Geordie like’, but also learning foreign languages. This has entailed learning ‘football terms’ in their native language with a good level of pronunciation to enable both players and coaches to understand my communication. This has also been supplemented with demonstrations and video analysis.
Has anything developed you more than if you were working in UK?
My role as Director of Coaching has enabled me to really develop my off field skills, whether it be organisation, leadership, programming, communication and many other skills which aren’t demanded as much on field in my previous roles which were predominantly coaching based back in England. Instead, I have had to learn from the staff around me and learn on my own within the role
The demand to make decisions which ultimately effect key fundamentals within the club such as player development, staff development/recruitment and finances have been some of the many areas whereby I work constantly within on a week by week basis. These areas were foreign to me and now I have a much better understanding from working with those around me. The exciting aspect is that I still have so much to learn in these and other areas.
Has your development as a coach been hindered by not being in the UK?
The main hindrance is not being able to access high quality formal and informal CPD as often here in America. The English F.A are a well oiled machine in the frequency and quality of their CPD, and it is only once you start working overseas that you truly appreciate their work. There are learning opportunities in America whether it be observing colleagues, other coaches (inc other sports) however there is a huge demand placed upon travel and cost due to frequency and location of coach education.
Do you feel you need to move abroad to coach to work in football?
I think it depends on your overall objective as a coach. I think it helps broaden perspective and observing different coaching “cultures” around the World is a priceless learning experience. However from having countless friends and colleagues that continue to work in the UK, I firmly believe you do not ‘have to’ work overseas to develop as a coach.
How do you feel British coaches abroad are perceived?
I think British Coaches are perceived positively overseas. In particular, here in America, I feel they value our opinion from growing up in a football dominant country and respect the Coach Education systems we have in place. However, that doesn’t mean we are superior in knowledge, but we have an established reputation across the world within football. Several coaches want to complete their badges in the U.K. which is an indication of how well we are regarded. I do think we can learn a lot from other governing bodies such as the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).
The future - what’s next for you?
The dream is to continue creating a legacy within GPS Buffalo and working within the College game here in America. I would also like to complete my USSF B Licence in the not so distant future.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
There is inspiration all around me, whether it be like-minded coaches or the players I work with weekly. There are constant reminders that make me privileged to be in the job I am in, but to also motivate me to become even better. I also keep a close network of coaches around me who push one another to be better from conversations, sharing coaching resources or even sharing experiences within their coaching journey. These examples only drive me on to become even better - and there is no sign of slowing down.