FA Level 2 and Under 8s
February 27, 2012 9 Comments
Last week was an interesting week from a coaching perspective as the two Under 8 sessions I had were the first I’d run following my participation on the first week of the FA’s Level 2 course. Of course, when I say “interesting” what I really mean is I felt there were some highs & lows.
The session I ran on Tuesday went pretty well I felt. I had 8 players which is a great number to work with and we did a game of tag to warm up (with footballs) before I worked with them on their dribbling (using L2 coaching points) before progressing in to an SSG with 4 goals and finishing with a game.
The smaller number of players makes it easier to gain everyone’s concentration for the 30 seconds I needed to get a point across or progress the session. I progressed the dribbling work we did in to a SSG with 4 goals (two at each end) as I felt that gave the dribblers more opportunity to succeed as there are multiple targets. This seemed to work well and also saw a couple of the players demonstrate a good awareness of space by taking up a un-marked wide position.
The session as a whole went pretty well but once you’re in to an SSG at U8 level I think it becomes quite difficult to stop the session (to praise/correct) because the kids just want to play and it’s one of the areas of the L2 syllabus which I think is quite difficult to apply to this age group. With that in mind, I only stopped the session once to positively praise something which I was really happy with.
The other part of the L2 syllabus which I think is hard to apply at U8 is that of recreation, e.g. getting a player to try or practice something before resuming the session. Having been on the Youth Award Module 1 I was very aware of the impact this may have on self-esteem so I avoided opportunities to help a player correct what they were doing wrong if I could see they were reluctant to do so in front of the group.
The second session I took last week was supposed to be the first Level 2 practice session I needed to run in between our course and our next catch up day. I planned a session around dribbling and had parts where I included the whole group (18 players) and parts where we split the group up (albeit doing the same exercise) and I don’t think this session worked particularly well.
- Firstly, 18 (Under 8s) is far too big a group to do any kind of Q&A or guided introduction of coaching points.
- Secondly, the area we had to work with (we’re on an astro pitch which is essentially 2 x tennis courts) wasn’t big enough to allow success in one of the exercises.
However, I did still feel there were benefits to the session. The warm up we did meant each player had LOTS of touches and they were constantly having to dribble in different directions and were frequently turning. The game I progressed to also had lots of decision making and dribbling but I think there are better ways of doing it in the future.
The week’s demonstrated to me that I need to work with a smaller group if I’m to effectively practice my Level 2 understanding and I also need to alter sessions & games so that a) the information is relevant to the age group and b) the practice is still fun and ultimately, a game.
Any coach will empathise with how you feel when you know a session hasn’t gone well but as per some of the great advice I had on Twitter last week, it’s given me an opportunity to learn & re-plan for this week with that experience behind me.
The Level 2 syllabus IS difficult to apply to an under 8s team but I’m confident that with some tweaking it can be applied to benefit the players (main priority) as well as my progression toward passing my Level 2.