118 Sessions!

118 Session Plans

The session plans were all used over two seasons of working with the Under 11 age group. Adapted for a smaller number of players if any were not available for training, so please feel free to use and adapt anything you see!

As I am sure a lot of them were sessions I had seen and then changed for the needs of the players 🙂

Workshop – A Head for Talent

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This was the second workshop in a series of four around Talent, specifically designed for The FA Girls Centre of Excellence coaches. This was therefore a mix between Sports Coach UK and The FA staff.

The first workshop focused on ‘What is Talent?’ with plenty of debates around what each person saw as talent and if it was mainly nature or nurture.

This workshop which this blog is going to focus on is “A Head for Talent?” the following aspects were explored on the workshop:

  • The concept of mindset
  • Mindset and your athletes
  • Mindset and the talent environment
  • Mindset in your coaching

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Reasons Coaches Should Play FIFA 15

Recently everything has been focused on the release of FIFA 15 and if you work with children/young people then I am sure they have been talking about playing on this new game. That happened with me and I have not really ever properly played FIFA so for a lot of things I had no idea what they were going on about. That combined with doing a course on ‘Coaching Teenage Players’ which we mentioned and focused on technology and again FIFA was mentioned. Both of these factors inspired me to go out and buy the game, to have a go and understand what the kids are playing.

Having now had it and played on it quite a bit (I’m not addicted I promise …) I have decided that from a coaches point of view it could be a good thing and could help you design different and new sessions which link into the game and how the young people will respond to it, don’t forget they are pretty fantastic at playing this game. I am not so much but have tried a lot of the different game play.

So let’s have a think about how this can help engage the new generation who just love playing on these games.

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My plan for this blog!

I have had this blog for quite a number of years now but never properly used it. I have transferred across some match reports that I have written from a different blog and it has a few session plans and my general thoughts about football coaching. Going forward I am going to try and put forward my views on all the football matches that I watch, that may not happen for each World Cup game as I don’t think I really have that much time. I will start with some of those games those and general opinion on the players and games, this will come more from a coaching point of view.

I also plan to post more session plans and explain what needed to be adapted when the session took place, for example when less players turn up than you expect to a session. Sometimes this is more difficult to deal with depending on the session type. So that is something that I will look to press on with this blog as well, but this will probably start more over the next few months for new sessions. Every now and then might just post some of my favourites as a coach we all have our favourites.

Then when the 2014/15 league season kicks off expect both match reports on Newcastle and Sunderland as I attend games for both of these teams. May even try to get to some of the lower league teams matches if time allows this to happen!

Looking forward to the challenge of really getting into this blog!


Last night with my U13 boys team, crossing was the aim of the session. However the session I had planned had to be adapted slightly with having only 8 players for the session. It still went very well and the players enjoyed the different challenges. I am curious to see if we manage to get many crosses completed in our pre-season friendly on Saturday.

2 teams 4v4 

  • Playing inside blue cones
  • No goalkeepers

Parents on the line

After a very interesting discussion on Twitter last night with members of the coaching family – that’s something for coaches on Twitter to help each other out in the world of football coaching.

The subject was brought about after Anth had made comments about being shocked with the way parents had behaved on the line for a U11 game at the weekend. This then started a discussion with Chris, Rich, Chris, Nick and John which I also joined in too.

We touched upon some very important problems which occur when coaching and on match days. Not that everyone has problems, a lot of parents are fantastic support towards coaches and let them get on with it. However, that is not the case for all of them. Every coach out there has probably had some problems whilst coaching at grassroots level.

I have very recently too, which in all honesty was a good job it was not my introduction to coaching as I would probably not have wanted to coach anymore. But with the experience I have now, I decided that the best thing for myself to do was step down as nothing worked in order to stopping the problems.

The respect campaign from The FA is supposed to have the parents not right on the line, which has been brought into place throughout the different leagues. But does it really make much of a difference? If they are going to shout they will be heard even if a few feet from the touch-line.

The parents are supposed to be supporting their child and the team, nothing but encouragement and well done should be shouted from the sideline. Thinking about the younger players u10s and right down to the start, if everyone is shouting and telling them different things the players easily become confused and then have no idea what to do. They start to become scared about making a mistake and getting told off afterwards. This is something that we as coaches must try to stop and do the most important thing . . . develop players. Therefore trying to help the players understand that they have to just play their own game and try not to listen to shouts from the side-line (other than the coaches of course).

Match bans could also be something to think about if they are very abusive towards any of the players (on either team) or towards the referee as well. While some people may just be beyond help, for some of them a couple of games being banned from watching might just help them to see a bit of sense and remind them that it is kids football – and it should all be about the boys and girls who want to just play.

I think personally after coaching at the girls centre of excellence last season, I actually forgot what it was like at grassroots games. It is the total opposite end of the spectrum and I really cannot understand why! Isn’t it all about the kids enjoyment as well as helping them develop skills as players? Some people need to remember that more.

Passing – Teamwork

For an interview for a coaching job last week I had to make sure the topic of the session related to employment. I decided to go for Passing and relate it to Teamwork and Communication skills. All of these are very important in the work place as well as on the football pitch.

I tried to keep the session as simple as possible, splitting the group into 3 teams from the very start. Each team is given a ball and have to make as many passes as possible using all of the space.

Then gave them a challenge of beating the number of passes the other team can make. See who can get the most, whilst keeping good quality and using the entire area (to stop a static triangle occurring).

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Types of Practice

A small part of the FA Youth Module 2 takes a look at the types of practice used in football sessions. It also asks a question about saving the more game like practice until the end. Why do we have to wait until the very end of the session to start playing a more match like practice?

Well the answer to that after the module 2 course is, we don’t have to wait. We can always start with the game like situation and then go back to a more constant or variable practice. Nothing wrong with seeing what the players do naturally before coaching them to improve, and if that means we have to go back to a more basic practice containing a lot of repetitive then that’s fair enough.

Constant Practice

Practicing an isolated technique in constant conditions – example, passing over the same distance and angles. Predictable, unopposed or very limited pressure. Narrow focus but a good feeling of success. Massive focus on good technique, lots of touches and repetition of the same movement. Only downside is that not enough movement of directions, lack of angles and realism to the game. But still a good practice to help good technique.

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The FA Youth Award – Module 1 & Module 2

The FA Youth Award is still in its first couple of years. With three different modules making up the Youth Award, if you decide to then be accessed for it. In March and June/July of this year I started the Youth Award by taking the module 1 and module 2 parts of the course.

The format of the courses are so different from anything that the FA has done before. They are very interactive and involve a lot of debates about the world of football coaching. I was lucky and had fantastic people on both of the courses, a lot of the people on module two had been on the same module one course as well. Which I think made it an even better experience, due to everyone being comfortable with each other before the course even started.

Both courses overlap as we go back to things discussed and learnt from module 1 on the module 2 course. As it’s all about building up the sessions and different ways you can do topics which you have probably coached for years. Also trying to move everyone away from the “stop, stand still” method. The focus being more on the players, whether that be as the whole group or individually.

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Why the launch of the WSL is great for girls football!

The WSL launches today with the first game being shown live on ESPN from 5pm. Not only is this a massive stepping stone for women’s football it should aid the development of girls who play football too! If they are encouraged to watch the WSL of course! It is a must though, while obviously watching any football is good so they can see what to do (and at times, what not to do) in games. But now for the girls they can eventually watch women’s game easier with the TV coverage.

It is more important for them to watch the women’s games that it is the men’s games. Not that I am saying stop watching it, just watch all of it! But this will give them better role models in terms of what they can achieve from football.

Let’s hope that we see more games live on TV!