Half-term: A chance to take stock

We had a week off from training last week as it was half-term and it gave me a chance to have a quick recap and think about how the first part of the season had gone from a coaching perspective.

When we returned to training at the end of August I’d decided that I’d put my focus in to helping to develop the players technique and comfort on the ball whilst ensuring any session I put on was both fun, engaging and relevant. There’s also a desire on my part to experiment and try different sessions to see what works & what doesn’t – the risk is always that you feel the session wasn’t a particularly good one but I feel a trial & error approach is important to a developing coach.

So, to summarise some of the areas I’ve covered so far this season:

  • 1v1 – providing players with lots of opportunities to try to beat a player, understanding what does/doesn’t work
  • Unopposed skills practice – allowing players to try new tricks & skills in a no-pressure situation (could range from a heel-flick to a step-over or simple turn)
  • SSGs – 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 and a range of variants in between (1v2 etc). Allowing players just to play in these situations but sometimes stepping in to reward a player’s ability to beat another with a trick, or a team who score a goal having ensured each player passed it.
  • Dribbling & Turning – using different feet & using different parts of the foot to turn (inside step, outside of foot, sole of foot)
Week-on-week it can feel like not much is changing but when you take a minute to reflect you start to realise how much you’re covering with the players and the only real shame is that we only get 1 hour a week with the kids. In addition to covering the above areas we’ve always ensured that a player always has a ball and that we avoid drills and lines of players queueing up to partake in a game, so I think we’re doing a lot of things right.
As we return to training this week we move on to an all-weather surface and so it’s even more of an opportunity to work on the player’s ball work as it’s a great surface – the real challenge is ensuring that the sessions remain engaging and that the boys just feel that they’re playing football, rather than training.
Finally, for me as a coach I’m continuing to do the following:
  • Ensure I plan sessions which cover key points whilst being engaging, fun and relevant
  • Using resources (Blogs, Twitter, Academy visits & other coaches etc) to develop my understanding of what good coaching looks like and to provide ideas for sessions
  • Review sessions to learn from both the positives & negatives
Coaching 8 year olds is a lot about providing them the freedom to play and learn but there are other factors such as dealing with bad behaviour, ensuring fairness and comforting upset players  and the latter certainly remains as much of a learning experience as the former!

About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

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