THE MATTHEW TIPTON COLUMN

The Matthew Tipton Column

The Matthew Tipton Column

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Warrenpoint Town boss and former professional striker Matthew Tipton has signed up to provide a weekly column on his views of a debut season in Irish League management and playing career covering 10 clubs across three countries.

"For past generations of footballers the lines dividing a manager and coach were pretty blurred at best.

The term 'coach' was probably not that common a phrase - for most kids you just had the older man in charge who picked the team and told you to run laps at training before everyone got together for a game at the end!

The modern era is a completely different scenario of course and at all levels of football now there are clear objectives for each role.

I'm fortunate to have a foot in both camps - most of you know me as an Irish League first-team manager with Warrenpoint Town.

But I also coach after-school clubs and holiday camps as part of my Soccer School business plus have a dual role at Ridgeway Rovers as 2002 team coach and overall position for the club's 2001-2006 age groups.

Each of the three roles gives me something different and, as I've found since stepping into first-team management this season, helps me on all fronts.

There is a pure sense of enjoyment at helping nurture a love of the game in schools; the role of development coach really kicks in at Ridgeway when the only focus is on helping players maximise potential; then it comes to 3 o'clock on a Championship matchday and the motivation, personal and professional, is all about the win.

Each area is rewarding and with Warrenpoint I get to experience both roles.

I take After-School Clubs four days a week in primary schools and this is mainly an introduction to football for 90 per cent of the children who attend.

My role during these sessions is to make sure the children are building up their love for the game by being constantly active with the ball.

My sessions are all based around ball manipulation, one v one games and dribbling techniques due to the fact that if the children are trying football for the first time they need to be in constant contact with the ball to be able to improve.

For many of the children these sessions might be their only hour of physical activity during the week so I like to make sure that everything is done in a fun environment (and they don't notice the amount of running about that they do).

During the weeks of these sessions my greatest delight is when a child masters a skill or a move that they were unable to do when they started. These sessions are my least stressful as all of the children are coming to me for enjoyment and to try to gain some basic skills.

It's brilliant for me to see them all improving week on week and playing football with freedom.

My role at Ridgeway is a level above what I do in my Soccer Schools.

I have a couple of roles within the club, firstly I help with the coaching and running of the 2002 squad in the National League.

I work on the four-corner model of Technical, Social, Physical and Psychological.

This is basically a coaching approach designed to cover all bases - from ball mastery to self-esteem.

During my sessions with Ridgeway I am trying to prepare our players to go on and become the best that they can be.

Whether that's going to England to be a professional, moving on from us to play at Irish League level (hopefully Warrenpoint) or just playing socially with friends in the future - our aim is to provide them with the Technical, Social, Physical and Psychological skills to move forward to be well-rounded individuals.

With our year group now it's a big focus for them to go forward to SuperCup NI (formerly Milk Cup) trials so we are trying to prepare them for what could prove, for some, the pinnacle of their football career.

I also have a role within the club as a coach mentor to our 11-a-side teams and I get around to each squad once or twice a month to put on different sessions and try to assist the coaches in any way possible.

Within this role I also deal with clubs in England who might be looking to take any of the boys on trial or sign deals.

You may have noticed that up to now I haven't spoken about winning matches or trophies in any of my roles and this is because I believe that there is only first-team level where results matter.

Below that it's all about the development of players to get them ready to play at the highest level they can achieve.

When I'm taking the Ridgeway team on a Friday night or a Saturday morning my weekend isn't ruined by the result of the game as I have my development hat on during these games and I'm looking at team and individual performances to please me.

I want to see if the players have taken on board what has been coached during the week and applied it in the right manner. This isn't to say I'm not disappointed when the teams lose but l, for me, if we have worked on something specific in training and the players replicate that in the match I'm more than happy.

Now my role as first-team manager at Warrenpoint is the complete opposite of what I have already talked about!

I still try to concentrate on the four-corner model but now my focus is purely on winning matches at the weekend.

Interestingly, the pure unadulterated joy of winning a match as manager is a completely different feeling than the one I got as a player.

As a player I often felt on a "high" for a couple of days after a game but as manager I often feel that the feeling subsides very quickly, often 15-20 minutes after the final whistle.

As soon as I'm home from the game I'm then planning for the week ahead and looking at the opposition. I generally have our training sessions planned out for up to six weeks in advance, however, they can be adjusted to cover anything that might have come out from analysing our game with my coaching staff.

As manager I'm trying to look at all of the players in my squad to see who has been playing regularly against the players who haven't had much game time in case we need a wee bit more intense training or, even on a psychological level, a chat to explain why they haven't been playing.

My job as a manager (and my responsibility to Warrenpoint Town) always comes down to results. But both roles are crucial at Warrenpoint and blend into one overall job.

Everything we do is geared towards getting results but obviously work on the training pitch plays a massive part in that goal.

It's the managing of the individuals in our squad that I really enjoy. I love getting inside of the players' minds to try and work out what makes them tick and how I'm going to get the best out of them as a unit on matchdays.