Coaching Day 8: Just fun.


Last night’s session was brilliant. Why? We had loads of fun.

The session started as usual with a warm up which was important on such a cold night. We use sharks v minnows as all the kids enjoy it, they all have a ball each and it’s an ideal opportunity to get them working on their ball skills from the off.

After the warm-up we split the kids in to two groups which is something we usually do (and something I prefer) and as we did this it was quite nice to hear one boy shout “I want to be in Simon’s group!”. “I must be doing something right”, thought I! Anyway, due to work commitments this week I hadn’t had chance to plan for the session so I opted to use a couple of simple games which would keep all the kids active.

Dribbling, Passing & Shooting (Ed – not the most creative name I know)

I knew that the kids love any game which involves shooting or scoring goals so I try to use games which factor in other skills whilst also incorporating shooting. I used cones to set up a game which required a player to dribble in and out of four cones to the side of the goal (i.e. being a winger) before passing the ball across to a player who’d be in a striker position. The player in the striking position would then control the ball and take a shot at goal. The players would then rotate so the winger went in to the striker position, the striker went to the back of the line and the next winger went.

So, What does this cover?

  • Dribbling
  • Passing
  • Control
  • Shooting
  • Communication (player in the middle had to call for the ball)

The game worked well because the rotation was quick, it challenged all players (even the goalkeeper) and the kids enjoyed it because they were scoring and keeping a record of how many they were scoring. The game also allowed progressions, as below…

Progressions:

  • Shoot first time
  • Shoot further out (for kids with a stronger kick)
  • Dribble with both feet when being the winger

I then changed to a different game which required the kids to play a wall pass with me before having a shot at goal. Although in my L1 course it was recommended that adults shouldn’t get involved in games as it’s not realistic, I found taking part in this game allowed me to work on their communication which is where some of the fun came in.

The Wall-pass & shot:

  • Each player lined up behind a cone about 10m out (5m to the side of the goal)
  • Each player would pass the ball to me and call for the ball back
  • Once they received it they could then take a shot

Progressions:

  • Providing a bouncing return ball for the better players to control & strike (or strike first time)
  • Asking them where they wanted the ball, getting them to point as they called my name

There were two key fun aspects to this game which the kids really enjoyed. The first was that after a while I had them shouting my name when they wanted the ball, which made them laugh but also got them all calling for the ball which is a habit I want them to get in to (I also refused to pass it back if they didn’t call my name). And, if they scored they had to come up with a goal celebration which had them coming up with all sorts of amusing moves!

I was able to use this game to challenge the kids to think about what side of the goal they were going to shoot at which quickly got them getting their head up and improved the number of goals they were scoring. Especially pleasing as one girl started scoring a few goals having scored none in her first few attempts.

The games were simple, but I managed to incorporate an element of fun in all of it and they also worked on a number of skills & techniques.

After we’d finished the final shooting game I got the kids together to ask them what we’d worked on and it was brilliant to hear them come up with all the answers. It also allowed me to ask them what I wanted them to do in the game, “call for it”, “pass”, “shoot”, they said. What also made me chuckle was one of the boys repeated what I’d said before Christmas to them, he said, “And Simon, you don’t mind if we lose as long as we pass it”. Quite!

As much as it’s important they know what you’d like them to do it’s also pleasing when you see them do it which is why it was pleasing to hear the kids in my group shouting and calling for the ball when their team mate had it – fantastic. Suddenly you see them taking what you’ve worked on in the session and applying it in a match situation, is there anything more rewarding?

The kids are great fun, I’m getting to know them better and leaving training knowing that you’ve improved them ever so slightly is a great feeling.

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About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

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