Coaching Day 6: SSG Success


One of the challenges I’m finding with coaching so far is the need to be able to think on your feet and adapt to the numbers of players who either turn up, or the number I’m going to directly work with. For a new coach it can certainly be difficult to come up with a game which is appropriate to the level of players at your disposal, the equipment, the number of players and the weather (e.g. you don’t want them standing still for any amount of time in the very cold weather). So it’s something which is proving one of the biggest challenges so far.

We had 11 boys at tonight’s session which started in the usual way with a game of sharks v minnows to warm them all up. At this point I must point out that I still find the challenge of running a game or session with 12+ kids a bit daunting, especially given the presence of onlooking parents and Phil, who I joined to help coach these U7s. I find I’m far more comfortable with a group of 5 or 6 and although these smaller numbers make the games easier to manage it does mean there are certain games I can’t use. Undoubtedly, this is down to experience and I think with more experience and understanding kids will come the confidence to deliver larger sessions.

I only ran a couple of games with the 6 kids I took (Phil & I took half each), one being a small shooting game and the other being a 3v3 SSG. I’m seeing real value in SSGs and I continue to understand why so many people advocate their use. With a SSG, such as 3v3 tonight, I found the benefits tonight were as follows:

  • It was quick to set-up and with just 6 players I found it very easy to set my expectations for the game (rules etc)
  • All of the players got plenty of touches and lots of opportunities to dribble, pass, shoot, take throw-ins, corners and so on
  • As we played on a relatively small pitch I, as coach, had ample opportunity to keep talking to them and either offer them help or challenge the better players
  • Because it’s continuous action it gave me lots of opportunities to catch them in and offer praise
  • They enjoyed it

The rewarding part, as ever, comes with helping them improve in small ways. For example, I had one boy who’s excellent at talking (asking for the ball) but is a bit greedy and so I work with him to get him thinking about passing it when faced by a couple of players infront of him, and then I have another boy who won’t talk so I work with him and encourage him to ask for the ball when he hasn’t got it. In amongst that is more generic advice, such as helping them to be more aware of who they could pass to, when to pass and also how to take a throw in etc.

If we split the group up we also keep the same sides for a small match at the end and I’ve realised this gives me a great opportunity to take the things we’ve worked on during the session in to the game. Tonight I pulled together a quick huddle with the boys and we talked about what we’d worked on and what we were going to do in the match (focus on passing & calling for the ball were the main two). I’m going to use these pre-match huddles to build more dialogue in to the sessions (as I’d mentioned in a previous blog).

So another enjoyable hour with the U7s tonight, more experience gained as a young coach and more opportunities to help develop young players with some small tangible success stories in there! Roll on next week!

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About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

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