Coaching Day 14: Progress

Wednesday’s session was, by recent standards, fairly uneventful. We had no tantrums, no fighting, no teeth lost and no kids sitting on the sideline! The warmer weather also brought the parents out in force so we carried out the session with something of an audience, rather than the usual two or three hardy souls who stay to watch.

The recent chats with the kids about them being a team appears to be paying off because there was less of the boisterous behaviour we’ve seen in recent weeks, perhaps the arrival of their new kit & the announcement of our first fixtures has helped. The team’s first three games are coming up very shortly and it’s slightly disappointing that I’ll be in India for the first two, but I can’t wait for the tournament we’ve got in early June as it’ll be great to see them up against other sides.

What was fantastic to see on Wednesday was that the boy I’ve discussed in recent weeks took part in the whole session and looked to have a great time. Yes, he spent most of the match at the end with the bib over his head and yes, he’d spent one of the games running round with the ball under his shirt but the fact he engaged and had fun is, I think, progress!

It was good to hear the comments from the parents on the sideline were positive, I was nervous about “get rid of it” type comments but any comments were purely positive and that’s encouraging.

So less to deal with than recent weeks and the next time I coach the boys I’ll have two days of Youth Award Module 1 coaching under my belt.


Coaching Day 13: Decision making

Our coaching session tonight was much better and I think it’s fair to say that if you as coach have enjoyed the session then it’s fairly likely that the kids have enjoyed it as well. The manager & I worked together on the games (rather than splitting in to groups) but I had to make a decision during the session tonight and I’m happy to say I feel it was the right one.

I’d spoken in a previous blog post about a child who tended to sit on the outside of the group and lose interest in the football which meant he’d walk or sit on the side of the training area for long periods. This happens regularly and as I’ve said before I’m working to try and integrate this child, although it isn’t easy because the other kids notice he’s different and treat him like so.

The child in question didn’t have the best of starts to the session tonight because we hadn’t even started the training properly when he had a ball kicked in his face and this led to lots of tears which meant he didn’t want to take part in the session and so chose to lay on the floor in the corner (we’re in  a fenced astro-pitch).

I’d been working with the other players whilst this child lay in the corner but after 5-10 minutes I decided to make a conscious decision – I went to talk to the boy and tried to get him involved in the game. He wasn’t interested so I asked him if he wanted to just do some passing with me, which he did – excellent. I told the manager I was going to step away from the main session and work with this child 1-on-1 and it proved a success. We started with passing, then turned it in to a little game (thatI let him win) which had him running around, controlling the ball, passing, catching and most importantly – laughing. I’ve rarely seen this boy smile, let alone laugh, so I was delighted to get him involved, active and having fun.

We then managed to get him involved with the bigger group of players during the final game we played and he then took an active part in the match, something I haven’t often seen.

I thoroughly expect that next week we’ll be back to square one, but I feel I’ve got a way of engaging with him now and I can continue to try and help him enjoy coming to training and integrated in our games. It’s a very small thing but it felt great to see him having fun – even if that came at the expense of helping others tonight.

Coaching Day 12: Theory v Practical

I’d prepared for last week’s coaching session by looking to run a series of games which linked through and would culminate in applying to the final match we played, i.e. a gradual increment.

So how did it go?


My session plan looked like this:

  • Warm up: Either sharks v minnows or team-tag as shown by Dan Wright in his blog
  • First game: 1v1, or “On Guard” as is demonstrated on the Level 1 course
  • Second game: Waves, as taken from the Level 1 course
  • Third game: 3-game-SSG, as also shown by Dan Wright in his blog
  • Match

The theory being as follows:

  • Following the warm-up, get the players working on their dribbling skills via 1v1 games…
  • …then use Waves to get the players working in small teams, focussing on passing as a team and shooting…
  • …which they would need to combine with dribbling to help with the 3-game-SSG…
  • …which in turn would prepare them for a match situation

All of which, in my mind, looked pretty good.

What actually happened:

  • The group of 9 players I had to work with varied hugely in ability, so I decided to pull the 1v1 from my plan as I felt some of the players either wouldn’t grasp the concept or would lose interest.
  • Instead I set them up to play Waves, using competition between two teams (i.e. who could score more goals) as a way of making it fun. One team grasped the idea and did well, another had two players who were more interested in who was starting the game, or would hog the ball and this led to. Unfortunately, because the one team struggled with the game it lost its impetus and the other boys started to lose interest.
  • So I changed to one-team-SSG which started well but the teams were unbalanced which meant one set of players dominated  and this caused frustrations and one or two of the boys also began to lose interest.

So, despite my theory seeming ok in practice it was a very difficult 40 minutes of coaching and dealing with some of the kids was quite frustrating. I’d tried to run a session which flowed and which would be fun but perhaps in hindsight it was too much to ask for a (very) mixed ability group of U7s. Next week I think I’ll use some of the games which have worked well in the past and I guess if nothing else, this was an experiment which perhaps hasn’t worked but that I’ve learnt from.

Coaching Day 11: Football takes a back seat

Wednesday’s session seemed to be one of those where you spend more time managing the boys/girls than you do actually focussing on the football aspect of the session, which I guess is to be expected sometimes when coaching under 7s.

As someone who’s not a parent it can be far more challenging to ensure you’re dealing with children appropriately than it is to control & coordinate the games within a session. Knowing how to deal with the tantrums, the injuries, the tears and anything else which happens to crop up during a session is something which is taking time to develop and feel comfortable with – although it probably feels fairly normal if you’re a parent.

Wednesday’s session seemed to have all of the above and I’d only just arrived as the guy I coach with was walking a tearful boy over to the changing rooms as he’d lost a tooth when the ball hit him in the mouth! We then had one boy throw a major tantrum over something which seemed fairly trivial, there were two lots of tears caused by mis-timed tackles and a little bit of verbal bullying to sort out. Hence football coaching really took a backseat.

I’m hoping that my ability to deal with these types of situations will improve with experience, in fact I know it will, and I’m also hoping that the FA Youth Module is going to help with some of the “softer” side of football coaching.

As for the football? We worked on passing, control & dribbling throughout the session using a couple of different games and it’s great to see some of the kids starting to show signs of improvement as we’re another week closer to our first ever match! I think we’ll now look to start them thinking about formations and positioning on a football pitch so it makes the transition to a match situation much easier to handle.