Coaching Day 17: Skills corridor with goals

Tonight’s session

  • Energy levels: Medium
  • Concentration levels: Moderate
  • Behaviour: Poor
Joke’s aside – tonight was one of those sessions where an influential minority have the ability to bring down the group – and by bring down I mean influence the group to misbehave. Generally our squad of players are pretty good but tonight, for some reason, we had one of those nights where a higher than average number of players seemed either tired & grotty, fed-up or intent on mis-behaving and as a coach this provides you with challenges.
It’s a challenge to keep the group’s attention when you’re trying to explain the next game, it’s a challenge when you have to spend time encouraging or paying attention to players who’re mis-behaving (rather than helping to improve those who are paying attention) and it’s a challenge to try and prevent the player(s) from adversely influencing the rest of the group.
I’ve found that ignoring a player who’s mis-behaving works quite well in terms of stopping the other kids from being influenced by it. If that doesn’t work then I’ll try to find the trigger which snaps them out of it but if they aren’t listening then it’s off to sit on the side of the pitch (if behaving badly).
Anyway, to tonight’s session. Having worked on 1v1 last week I wanted to focus on ball work and skill development tonight so I’d been thinking about different sessions which I could try – using YouTube and blogs to also provide inspiration. In the end I decided to amend the skills corridor game from the Youth Award Module 1 and use that.
Following our usual warm-up routine we split the players in to two groups and I had a group of 8 to work with.
Setup (apologies for quality of image!)
  • The white cones set out the perimeter of the skills corridor
  • The players started behind the goal and would dribble in to the corridor (1)
  • I asked the player to try a trick or skill in the corridor (2) and then demonstrated a turn for them to try when they reached the third cone (3)
  • Once they’d performed a turn I asked them to try another skill or trick on the way back (4)  before shooting in to the goal
  • I then progressed the session by adding two cones (light blue) and asked them to try and skill and take it round those cones before shooting
  • Finally,  I added a defender (5) to operate in the area and asked the players to beat the defender with a skill before shooting
It worked quite well and the players were trying a number of different tricks and skills whilst in the corridor. Some points I made/observed during the session:
  • I encouraged and praised the skill or trick attempted, no matter how adventurous
  • Without thinking about it, the session progressed from unopposed to semi-opposed and opposed which felt quite natural
  • As some of the players started becoming a bit bored I added challenges and awarded double-points for completing the challenge. For example, I demonstrated moving the ball past a cone by rolling their foot over the ball and said they’d get double points if they could score a goal doing it. This meant they all wanted to score double points and reinvigorated the session.
The players surprised me with their inventiveness during the session and despite the usual requests of “when are we having a game” I felt it was a worthwhile exercise as you could the players improving as they progressed during the session. That is, for some player simple turns were becoming more effective whilst others were doing turns with more speed.
I’ll continue to focus on 1v1 and ball mastery in the coming weeks but would welcome any ideas or suggestions for sessions which cover these competencies at this age-group (under 8).

About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

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