As a company that offers children’s football coaching in Leeds we are constantly trying to think of new ways to get children to practise their football skills away from our training sessions.
They train with us at our various venues in Leeds for around 1-2 hours per week and we know that this on its own isn’t enough to truly develop their footballing ability.
So, what can help?
Make it competitive
We find that competition really helps engagement and encourages children to practise playing football away from their standard football team training or coaching sessions.
One way we do this is through our Monthly Challenges where we give the children a football skill to practise at home. The one who can do it the best at the end of the month wins a prize.
It is a bit of fun but it works and we can immediately see those who have actually got out and done the work!
What you can do as a parent
Parents of football-mad kids often ask us what they can do to help their child get better at football.
The only way to do this is to get them to practise more but the football practise needs to be purposeful.
‘Go out and practise’ means absolutely nothing to a young child. You need to give them something specific to do.
An easy-one is kick-ups.
Set them a target of, say, 5 kick-ups in a row on Monday and they need to beat their record by the end of the week.
A great one is to show them their favourite player doing a football skill on YouTube and then challenging your child to be able to do it by the end of the day, weekend, week.
If you’d like some free examples of various skills then head over to our YouTube channel and take a look at our videos.
The language you use makes a difference
How you ask your child to practise has a huge impact on if they will do it not. Check this example –
‘Why don’t you go out and practise’
‘Do you think you could do this skill?’
See the difference? The second ones gives them some purpose and a challenge.
Another good example –
‘I wonder if you could beat your keepy-up record before Sunday’
Be mindful of how you ask them to practise and you’ll find they’ll be outside with a ball at their feet a lot more than they currently might be.
If all else fails then good old bribery can be used as a last resort! ‘Do 10 kick-ups by the end of the week and you get…’.
It isn’t how we like to do things but it can be effective!
Please feel free to comment below with your success on this. We are always eager to learn new ways of getting children to practise their football.
Foot-Tech Academy provides children’s football coaching in Leeds through our weekly football training sessions, after-school clubs and holiday camps. For more info on what we do please visit www.foot-techacademy.co.uk
Quite an open question but, in sport, speed is becoming more and more important and it will affect your child at some point.
A study found that a modern top-class footballer completes 50% more sprints in matches now than they did 10 years ago. The game is changing and training needs to change with it.
This has already started to filter down into junior football teams and it is a trend that will continue. How many players in your child’s team do you know who are ‘the fast one’. They stand out a mile and often aren’t even the best player by a long-way. It is their physical attribute that gets them noticed and into the team.
Long-gone are the days of the big, slow defender or ‘the big man upfront’ who was there to simply win headers. We’re now seeing speedy players in pretty much every position in the elite teams, including goal-keepers.
Check out Man City at the moment – as great as they are with the ball, it is no surprise to see that every player has pace. When you combine speed and skill it is an unbelievable combination.
How does this impact your child?
Sport in general is seeing an increase in demand for speed. Rugby, basketball, hockey to name just a few.
Rugby in particularly is a really interesting example of how speed and athleticism has taken over from the stereotypical days of big guys with big bellies!
A conversation with a speed training coach highlighted the issues facing young footballers in an already competitive market.
He had the pleasure of speaking with a junior football coach at Ajax. This academy is one of the world’s best and known for developing very skilful footballers.
The coach was asked, ‘what do you look for when scouting a young player?’.
The response, ‘Speed. Give me a fast player and I will teach them everything else’.
Basically, your child will have an advantage, in terms of playing a sport at a high-level, if they are fast.
But my child isn’t fast – should we just give up?
No. Absolutely not!
We are certainly not saying that speed is the be-all-and-end-all. What we are saying is that is gives your child a competitive advantage in the eyes of the decision-makers at professional academies, schools and junior football clubs.
So, what can you do to help your child improve speed?
It was long believed that we were born fast or we were not, but it has been proven that speed can be trained and developed in children and adults.
It is why we have spent so much time learning and qualifying in speed coaching. We know how important it is to provide this training to children in order to help them in sport and everyday life.
Imagine the confidence boost it would give a child when they can suddenly move so much better and quicker. That is what we want and what we will strive to give our members.
We’ll be posting some hints and tips for parents to pass onto your children that can be practised at home so keep checking the Facebook Page for the videos and blogs.
Foot-Tech Academy offers junior football coaching in Leeds to children aged 4-14 through our weekly group sessions, private 121 football training, after-school clubs and our brand-new specialist speed training.
For more info please visit www.foot-techacademy.co.uk
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 email@example.com