Is Your Child Sleeping Correctly?


Is Your Child Sleeping Correctly?

I recently finished a really interesting book by ‘sleep coach’, Nick Littlehales.

Nick has worked with everyone from Cristiano Ronaldo to the GB cycling team to help them reach optimal performance through sleeping better.

It is a great read for anyone who wants to work out how to get a good nights’ sleep…how many of you parents have just clicked straight through to Amazon!

Back with us? Good.

So, the whole basis of the book is the fact we sleep in 90 minute cycles where we enter different stages of sleep. If we wake up inside a cycle we will get that ‘groggy’ feeling and if we wake up between cycles we should feel more refreshed.

Nick also talks about the fact you don’t need a really expensive mattress and how 30 minute naps through the day can also be great (if only!) to help us get the amount of rest we need.

Perhaps most interesting was the fact that we don’t necessarily have to sleep for long periods every night. He advises to pass through several 90 minute cycles but, let’s face it, life sometimes gets in the way in some way, shape or form.

Reassuringly, Nick says that as long as we stick to the 90 minute cycles, and wake up between them, we have a better chance of being more alert through the day. The idea is that we must try to at least get a good few cycles of sleep a majority of the week but that a couple of nights where we sleep less than we’d like doesn’t mean the next day is a struggle.

It got us thinking about the benefits this could have on children and how some sleeping routines may actually hamper their chances of being more alert for school, sport etc.

We hear from parents that sometimes they need to pretty much drag their child out of bed on a morning yet on other days they are absolutely fine. This might have something to do with the fact they are waking up inside or between cycles.

Nick advocates sticking to a routine but says we should count back in 90 minute slots from the time we want to wake up i.e. if you want your child to wake up at 7am the best times to fall asleep would be 7pm, 8:30pm, 10pm or 11:30pm.

The earlier the better but if, say, you have a family evening out and miss bedtime, it could actually be better to keep your child awake until they reach one of the above times.

Following the books instructions, if you get home at 9:15pm it would be better to let your children fall asleep at 10pm rather than rush them straight to bed.

If your child struggles to get out of bed on a morning check the hours and maybe give the strategy a try.

If it is good enough for Cristiano…


The book is called ‘Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours’.


Speed Coaching Coming Soon


It’s taken almost a year of learning, reading, planning, more reading, doing and even more reading but we are excited to say we are finally qualified to offer speed and movement coaching!

The SAQ Advanced Trainer qualification has been completed and we will be working over the coming weeks to plan our new specialist speed coaching courses that will be available very soon.

What is SAQ?

In short, it is a progressive system aimed at developing motor abilities, balance and coordination. Players become faster and better able to control their movement.

Speed is becoming more and more important in football and a lot of other sports – there’s a need for speed (couldn’t resist!).

We recognised we could help our players so undertook the course to gain the knowledge we needed.

We’ll be adding SAQ into our group sessions alongside the bespoke 121 speed coaching courses.

BIG thank you to Louis who has worked hard for over 2 months as our ‘test subject’.

The good news? He broke his 10m and 30m sprint times.

Check his SAQ work in the video for a snapshot of the training your player could receive.

Want to know more or register your interest in the speed coaching courses? Email us at

What Do Football Scouts Look For?


What do scouts look for?

Gala season has started and many junior football teams across the country will spend some of the summer weekends competing in tournaments.

Gala’s are great and it’s normally a very good footballing experience for the players, as well as a generally fun day all round.

With such a high volume of youth players all in once place, gala’s attract a lot of professional football academy scouts. Below we’ve listed a few things that parents can read if you’re interested in knowing what your player can do to stand out.

1. First, and possibly the most important thing, don’t make a big deal of it
Tournaments are meant to be fun and they give the players the chance to experience some competitive action. They’ve got enough on their plate without having the added pressure of worrying about getting scouted. Our advice would be to not even mention it. Word soon gets round when a scout is spotted so the players will be fully aware – if you’re relaxed about it, they won’t think it’s too much of big deal which should hopefully mean they play with less on their mind.

2. What am I doing when I don’t have the ball?
One area you can help with is encouraging good habits during the games. One big thing is what they are doing when they don’t have the ball. Encourage them to track back when the other team has the ball and find space when their team mates have it. Scouts look for intelligence out of possession – its not all about what they do with the ball.

3. Keep the ball moving
An old saying in football that still rings true today. When they receive the ball encourage your player to take a touch in a direction as opposed to stopping it dead and holding up play. It’s looked on very favorably.

4. Pass, dribble or shoot?
Decision-making is becoming more and more prevalent in coaching and scouts look out for what decisions a player makes when they have the ball. Many believe that the player who takes on the most players or scores the most goals will be scouted but that isn’t the case. Promote team play with your player but encourage them to take people on if they need to. If they see a chance for a shot then take it. But if it doesn’t work out – see point 1.

5. Confidence
As a parent you want to encourage your player to express themselves and be comfortable with the ball. Scouts look for players who want the ball and don’t shy away from having it at their feet.

6. Good discipline
Players who deliberately foul, are rude to parents/referees/other players are unlikely to be picked no matter how good they are. It comes down to the scout looking at how coachable a child will be. There’s no point wasting time with someone with a bad attitude. Smile, play fairly and enjoy it.

We hope that has given you a few ideas. As a parent you can help your child in so many ways when it comes to these situations and we feel the biggest thing is simply letting them play with no worries. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Note how many times the word ‘encourage’ is wrote above.

Enjoy your galas and let us know how your team does.

World Book Day – A Good One for Parents


Parents, don’t let your children have all the fun on World Book Day…get involved.

This one is an oldie but a goodie – Mindset by Carol Dweck.

Such an interesting book on, amongst other things, how our words can influence a child’s mindset towards areas such as sport and school subjects.

Your child may not reach their full potential in something because they have a ‘fixed mindset’, in other words they believe you are born with talent and no amount of effort will change their ability.

That is where they’re wrong and the book explains this with some great, real-life examples of how we as parents, coaches and teachers can help children switch to a ‘growth mindset’ simply by changing how we speak to them.

Something as simple as praising effort over the end result can have such a positive impact. This is something that we are big on at Foot-Tech.

We say it all the time, continuous hard-work and effort towards something will bring results. When a child recognises that, and is happy with the challenges that come with developing a skill/learning a new subject etc, they will have so much more chance of reaching their potential.

This book should be mandatory reading for all those, shall we say, more ‘vocal’ Sunday morning football Mum’s and Dad’s!

You can order the book online by clicking here


1v1 – Why We Do It & Why You Should Too


If you’ve ever been to a Foot-Tech Academy session you’ll have seen a lot of 1v1 football training. It is something that forms a big part of our curriculum, but what is it and why do we use it so much?

What is 1v1

Quite simply it is one player versus another player in an opposed practice. It can have a variety of aims – score a goal, keep possession – and you can do so much with it.

You can have a traditional 1v1 or you can do things such as 1v1v1v1 (think ‘Wembley’ or ‘Cuppy’ when we were kids!). You can adapt 1v1 sessions in a variety of ways to meet the aims of your session and the ability of your players.

Why we do it

This goes back to the conversations we had when we set up Foot-Tech in 2014. We identified a few areas that have impacted junior football in recent years.

  • A shift in mentality of young players. The rise of Pep’s Barcelona coincided with youth footballers becoming more interested in passing and creating as opposed to dribbling past defenders and scoring goals.
  • Grassroots football matches (to a certain age) were/are played mostly as friendlies.
  • Societal attitudes have changed. We don’t see as many kids playing football in the street or park anymore; particularly in winter time. The rise of in-home entertainment i.e. consoles, tablets etc has impacted this as well as increased child safety issues.
  • Th FA revamped their coaches training to ensure English coaches were aiming to make junior players technically better.
  • Diving and play acting has become prominent in the Premier League and young players will often see their hero’s falling to the floor with the slightest touch.

So, in my opinion, I found players were becoming better on the ball but losing some of that competitiveness/aggression that was synonymous with the English game. The ‘Street Footballer’ was slowly dying out.

My view was pretty much validated at the trials for our County Representative Team. I was coach of the u18’s at the time, who were probably around 11/12 years old when the obsession with possession football began and who all will have felt the impact of the above points. I can’t tell you just how much we struggled to identify strikers/forward players who simply wanted to score goals. On the flip side, we were spoilt for choice when it came to ‘number 10’s’.

Now, having players who were perhaps technically better than their same age-group counterparts of 5-10 years ago was great, but had we gone from one extreme to the other?

Could we create a curriculum that would develop both elements so we have a more complete footballer; technically advanced but with the desire to go win the ball, take players on when required and channel some positive aggression.

We didn’t see the point in being able to master a football if you don’t have the confidence to take on a player in a game situation. Add that to the fact that 1v1 situations happen all over the pitch – winger v full back, striker v centre back, centre mid v centre mid etc etc – it had us wondering why 1v1 drills were not more prominent in grassroots training.
We certainly aren’t suggesting that passing/possession practices be totally binned off. It all has a place – we love a Rondo at Foot-Tech! However, passing is as reliant on your team mates’ ability as it is your own, so we wanted to give the power to the individual. Be a good passer but have the ability to take matters into your own hands (or feet!) as an when required.

Pep’s Barca were the best club side I have ever seen. The football was beautiful to watch. Much was made of their possession style but not enough was made of the ability of the forward players to beat an opponent.

Iniesta, Xavi and even Busquets were masters of creating space for themselves with a drop of the shoulder to ghost past a man. And lets not forget what the little Argentinian fella upfront was doing to defences on a regular basis! How many games will Barca have won as a direct result of Messi’s dribbling? Passing will get you so far but there comes a time when you need some magic.

A recent article by a former colleague of Jurgen Klopp, Peter Hyballa, was really interesting. He talks about the rise of passing players and the decline of dribblers. In a time when defences are so organised – particularly at elite level – the need for confident dribblers is increasing.

Lastly, 1v1 is fun! Who doesn’t enjoy the thrill of trying tricks and taking on opponents? It is one of the most exciting parts of football so why not focus on teaching kids how to do it? It increases confidence in both attack and defence and they will experience 1v1 several times in a game so they need to be ale to handle it.

We have been going for just over 2.5 years and the results we have seen in our members has been fantastic.

It is the confidence factor that has really struck us. They are much more comfortable with the ball and are brave enough to want it under pressure. That has long been a trait of foreign players; they will happily take the ball with a man-on. We are pleased to see that happening with our members.

We have also seen an increase in desire to win the ball back if they lose it. In a 1v1 practice if you lose it, the opponent will invariably score…unless you work to stop that. It is black and white so, at the risk of losing, they will do all they can to get the ball back. Some of the ‘battles’ we see every week are amazing to watch.

For newer players we see a quick development. There is no hiding in a 1v1 so it is a case of get involved or get beat. They soon realise that just simply working hard and not giving up can yield results. Over time they increase their ability to beat their opponent but, for the less advanced players, they see good initial results from defending well and frustrating the attacker into mistakes.

A lot of it comes down to you as a coach. We allow the players to make mistakes and encourage creativity. We also praise effort on the defending side to help reinforce the hardworking mentality and we insist on fair play – 1v1 can sometimes frustrate some players into fouling so keep an eye on that. Matching them up ability wise at the start is a potential remedy for this.

All in all 1v1 works so many key areas in a junior footballers development. Adding them to your training sessions will yield positive results for the team and the individual from both a football and softer-skills perspective.

For any advice on 1v1 training please feel free to get in touch at

Football Academies & Time Frames

We are often asked by parents about pro academies and what their player needs to do to get selected by a pro club. There are three things we explain:

The first answer is always the same – PRACTICE. Football is a skill that needs to be developed if you are to reach pro-level. Just as a budding guitarist will spend hours with a guitar; a budding footballer must spend hours with a football.

The practice, of course, needs to be purposeful i.e. 3 hours of ‘hoofing’ a ball 30 yards isn’t going to be as effective as 3 hours of practicing close control skills and kick-ups (see our Videos and YouTube page for some ideas).

The second thing is time. As amazing as it may seem for a young player to be selected for an Academy at 5, 6, 7 years olds it doesn’t always mean that hope is lost for players who are older.
This is a very important point. Many elite footballers of today didn’t get into an academy until their early teens.

Their rise to pro status is often put down to the fact they simply were allowed to enjoy their football, experience new sports and were of an age where they could deal with the pressures of academy level football, trials etc.

One HUGE example of this is Bastian Schweinsteiger. He has won pretty much everything there is to win in the game, including the World Cup. He was Germany’s Captain, arguably one of the best ever players in the Bundesliga and signed for Manchester United in 2015. He was picked up by Bayern Munich at……THIRTEEN YEARS OLD!

So, what we are saying is, there is no rush. Let them play and practice.

Lastly; above anything else – the players must be allowed to enjoy it. The second they lose interest or don’t have the desire for football anymore they must be allowed to chose what they would like to do instead – whether that be other sports or a less formal version of football (just play with friends instead of teams for example).

Enjoyment is what makes practice fun. No enjoyment means less practice. Less practice means less chance of making it.

Let them play and don’t worry about age – you may have a little Schweinsteiger of the future!

As always we are on hand to offer any advice or guidance on training, practice techniques and ideas.

The Multi-Sport Benefit for Young Footballers

2016 was a great one for sport. The blend of football (Euro 2016) and the Olympics over in Rio has got us thinking about the proven benefits of youth footballers playing other sports.

To master a skill it is said that 10,000 hours of purposeful practice must be undertaken ( Practice is something we at Foot-Tech continuously encourage but does it only ever need to involve a football?

Looking at the elite players it is clear that they are experts with a football but they are also athletically advanced in terms of running speed, balance, coordination, agility, overall fitness and flexibility.

Just playing football will of course help in all of the above areas but a lot of evidence is suggesting that playing other sports can significantly advance a young players’ ability on the pitch.

Let’s consider some of the examples of players who were involved in other sports growing up:

Wayne Rooney says his boxing really helped his football development

Gareth Bale played rugby alongside Sam Warburton (Wales Rugby Union Captain)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a black belt in Taekwondo

Joe Hart played Cricket for Worcestershire and could have gone pro

James Miler represented his school in long-distance running

Theo Walcott set a 100m record at his high school

The list goes on and, unfortunately, we see this as something that is not viewed as important in a child’s overall development. Some academies in the UK even forbid their young players from participating in other sports and, understandably, parents go ahead with it believing it to be the right thing.

Some will argue for and some will argue against. We are dedicated football coaches and love the game but we believe a combination of sports can help a young footballer. Clearly football would need to be the primary sport (or does it?) but adding other sports can be so beneficial.

Combat sports and martial arts are great for stamina and coordination, gymnastics is superb for core strength and flexibility, rugby helps with the development of team understanding and interval running…….we could list almost any sport and explain how they could help a young players’ football development.

So, if you don’t already, consider encouraging your child/children to participate in other sports. They’ll move their bodies in new ways, learn new things and, most importantly, have another hobby in their lives to enjoy.

Who knows – if they don’t get the chance to play in a Euro’s in the future they may just get the chance to go win a Gold Medal elsewhere!

If you would like any advice on the sports we recommend please speak to any of the Foot-Tech coaches or send us an email to