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 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26384712). 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 foot-techacademy@outlook.com

www.foot-techacademy.co.uk

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Keeping Children Active in Winter

The dark nights and poor weather can make winter a tough time for keeping your child active. Mid-week school nights are pretty much a no-go for playing out and the cold weather can mean that outdoor time on a weekend is sometimes substituted for something more ‘comfortable’.

But what can you do to help ensure your chid has the chance to keep fit, healthy and get outdoors until the Spring arrives?

Utilise the Weekend

Yes is may be cold, wet and miserable but the weekends are so important as they are possibly one of the only times your child will have chance to be outdoors getting some fresh air. With some schools preferring to keep them indoors if the weather isn’t great through the week, the weekends need to be utilised.

Wrap them up and get to the park, go for a kick-a-bout etc. Even just 30 minutes will be great for them and give them opportunity to get off the computer and run off some energy.

If your chid is in a junior football team then match days/training are perfect ways for them to get moving even in the bad weather. Do your best to resist any moans and groans about it being too cold – they will thank you for it later when they have had a great time playing football with their friends!

Foot-Tech Academy will be open all through winter (save for frozen pitches etc) as we know the value of children playing sport in ‘poor’ conditions. Aside from the health benefits, you’ll see a big positive shift in attitude when your child realises they soon warm up when they start moving. This is a great thing from a character perspective plus who doesn’t like getting muddy whilst scoring some goals!

For those in teams winter training is a great way to learn how to play matches in bad conditions. Unfortunately our country isn’t blessed when it comes to sunny days so learning how to play in the rain, cold and wind is a very useful thing.

All of our sessions are adapted to ensure all the players are moving and static time is kept to an absolute minimum.

Get Mid-Week Creative

Allowing children outdoors through the week during the dark nights isn’t always possible. This is when you can get creative and have some fun with your son/daughter.

Some of our basic football skills can be done indoors should Mum and Dad be ok with it! Toe-Taps, Side to Sides etc can all be done with a small ball or even a sponge ball (if you want to be extra safe!) so challenge your child/ren – how many can they do in 1 minute? How many can they do in a row with their eyes closed?

Things like this are great for keeping them moving as well as continuing their football development.

How about some balancing work? Get your child to balance on one foot then throw a rolled up pair of socks for them to catch. Throw it higher/lower and swap feet. Great for core strength and increasing hand-eye coordination.

Also have a think about things like press-ups, air squats, lunges and planks. We are not saying that they be worked like a Marine(!) but low sets and reps of the above are fine and it gets them using their bodies in different ways. How many can they do on Monday and can they beat it by Friday? There are loads of variations and the key is to keep it a challenge so they remain interested.

Even just 15 minutes on an evening is worth it and it all adds up over the weeks/months.

We’ll post some ideas for you in the coming weeks.

Keep Warm & Dry!

It goes without saying that weatherproof kit for your child is essential at this time of year. We don’t need to dwell on that.

But as parents (and coaches) we can do our bit by showing the players that the weather doesn’t bother us. This transfers to the children in a big way – if they see us shivering they will start shivering!

So invest in some thermals because we’ve got a brilliant winter programme coming up at Foot-Tech. We guarantee those who continue their training through the winter will see the benefits.