Coaching Day 15: Whiteboard unleashed

Tonight’s session went pretty well and I’m pleased with that because it was the first session I’ve been at since completing Youth Award Module 1 and it also saw me using a whiteboard at training for the first time!

Due to being away I hadn’t had a chance to implement some of the things I’d learnt from the Youth Award and I was keen to trial a couple of the games which the course introduces.

Session Plan

I’d planned my session out in advance and had it printed and folded inside my sock for reference. After watching the tournament on Saturday I’d decided I wanted to work on the players technique and ultimately, allow them to become comfortable with the ball at their feet which is what tonight’s session focussed on.

The plan:

  • Warm up (Phil our manager took this whilst I set up the parts I wanted to run)
  • The Great Escape (Youth Award Module 1)
  • The Skills Corridor (Youth Award Module 1)
  • Work on turning with instep, outside of foot etc
  • SSG – 4 v4

How it went?

The Great Escape

I used the board to demonstrate the game and started with the players simply trying to run past the guards. I then progressed this by asking them to run backwards through the gates before introducing a ball. Once the ball was introduced we allowed them to focus on getting through the gate normally before progressing it to award “2 point” for going through with a skill or trick. This game went pretty well, although it wasn’t as clean as the demo in the YAM DVD by any stretch of the imagination – I was worried at one point that it looked like organised chaos but I remembered what Tom Bates said at the Grassroots Demo so I allowed it to continue rather than stop it). I think most of the players enjoyed the game and we had fun hearing how many points the players had scored  – one boy doing particularly well by scoring a thousand million points (credit where it’s due!).

Skills Corridor

I really saw the value in the whiteboard when I drew what we’d be doing for the skills corridor game because the players all sat around me as I drew it out with the whiteboard on the floor. They started to ask questions and probe about what they could do with the football which was fantastic. I started by simply asking them to take as many touches as possible before progressing the game to them needing to visit the sides three times (and trying different turns) before finally doing start-stop-start-stop with a change of direction.

As with ‘The Great Escape’ it wasn’t always neat & tidy but the players were trying step-overs and a variety of turns which Phil & I were quick to encourage & praise. As with the previous game it was also important that it provided more time where they’re dribbling with the ball, keeping it away from other players and trying new skills. At one point I had 3 players asking me to demonstrate a step-over which was great fun.


I didn’t do this as I felt the above two had provided more than enough time on their technique, we were running out of time and they were itching for a game.


Rather than finishing with one big game I setup two pitches and we played 2 x 4 v 4 SSGs with the teams swapping over at 5-7 minute intervals. I wanted to do this so that each player had more time on the ball and encouraged them to try the skills they’d practised earlier in the session. It was great that one parent who helped us said he really preferred 4v4 as it allowed “them all to be someone”, I think that’s a great statement.

What will I change next time?

  • The whiteboard was really powerful and it was most effective when the players were all sat down. When I progressed a couple of the games they were standing up which meant some of them weren’t paying attention. I think in future (during the summer at least) I’ll ask them to sit down whilst I explain any progression so I can ensure they all understand what we’re doing.
  • Make the skills corridor a bit bigger – slight adjustment but it was probably a bit too short tonight which meant it got a bit crowded as they all piled in at one point. Not a big problem but a larger area will increase their space and allow them more opportunity to try new skills.

So, overall I was pleased with the session and felt it had the right balance of ball-work and game-time. A couple of the players didn’t enjoy the Youth Award parts but I’m less inclined to worry about that (although it does play on you at the time) because the majority enjoyed them.

As we packed away at the end a passer-by commented that our session had looked quite professional and that her son would like to join in next time, it’s amazing what a few cones do!


About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

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