I’m on the verge of being able to create something close to the perfect environment that the coaching family on twitter wants to see. A club run from scratch that will create a positive, fun learning environment for kids and also coaches.
Right now it is at an infant stage in terms of getting up and running, however the core ideas are in place and ready to be implemented.
I will be the chairman and football development officer and we will start off with three teams; U8s, U9s and U10s. Each team will have two coaches; one level 1 coach and another Level 2 or higher coach with youth modules and more experience.
Coaches will stay with a certain age group instead of moving to the next age group with the same squad. Furthermore, players will be allowed to move up or down a year depending on whether an age group is too easy for the player, in order to prevent stagnation in their development.
Different to other clubs, teams will not play in a league structure until the U14 age group. There will be a concentration on teams being coached two times a week and occasionally playing friendly games. In order for kids to sample a more pressurised competitive environment, one or two tournaments will also be conducted throughout the season as I believe it is important for players to sample that atmosphere for their development.
There will be in-club games where different age groups play each other in an organised setting in order recreate street conditions where all age groups played against each other. One age group can play another age group at maximum 2 years above or below their age group (i.e. U12s vs U14s).
The coaching structure for the whole season will be constructed by all coaches when positions are filled. However, certain principles will hold no matter which topic is chosen to coach. One theme will have to be maintained for a minimum of a month.
Rotation of positions
Most of the player development ideas can be found in the philosophy I created and included in part 1. In brief, the use of Small Sided Games, work on their ABC’s (Agility, Balance and Coordination) and the creation of the right environment from the coach will substantially improve player development. In addition to this, particularly in the early age groups, a rotation of positions will improve a player’s understanding of the game and the demands of each position. Versatility looks like it’s becoming an important part of a modern player’s game so it’s important we allow players to attempt different positions.
15% of “free” training time. This is an idea I stole from Google (a blog post will be done on this at a later date!). The rational behind the idea is to give the kids a certain amount of time in your training session to do what they desire. No restrictions, just give them some equipment and observe. This is a good chance to see who interacts with who, who works on what and a lot more. You can learn a lot about your players and use that to develop the player further.
Equal playing time
Equal playing time is enforced and kept track of until U14s, when a bit more competition for places is introduced. However, coaches will still be encouraged to rotate players and not neglect players that may not be good enough yet.
Developing the person
In line with the “one club” culture I am attempting to introduce, once players reach the U12s age group, there will be a volunteering group that will put on events for the players to actively get involved with the club. This might involve fundraising for the club, assisting a coach at the club and more. This is designed to help players become more affiliated with the club and also develop skills that will help the player later on in life. This volunteering will then stretch to volunteering outside of the club for similar reasons.
In my opinion, most grassroot clubs don’t pay enough attention to improving their coaches. A leader of a company should look to improve the human capital within their company. If you improve the knowledge of your coaches, without a doubt the players will improve.
The idea behind the experienced/inexperienced coach mix is I’ve felt that a mentoring system needs to be in place in order to aid the early years of a coach. A more experienced coach to share ideas with and gain session feedback from will only benefit inexperienced coaches. One of the biggest problems with grassroots football is the placement of inexperienced coaches, or even worse coaches that aren’t good with children, with the younger age groups.
How can we neglect the players’ golden age of learning with such carelessness?!
In-club CPD events
These in-club CPD events will involve coaches researching and putting on a coaching session about something they’ve learned that can help other coaches as well. This could be a certain teaching style or a certain type of Small Sided Game. It’s up to the coaches’ imagination.
The main purpose of this kind of exercise is teach other coaches something they might not know or need developing. A by-product of this kind of exercise is that it gives coaches a chance to practice their coaching skills. More importantly though, coaches will constructively feedback on the session that the coach put on. This will not only help the coach that coached the session, but also emphasise the importance of feedback from other coaches.
Coach to Coach sessions
Similar to the in-club CPD events, although instead of coaching on the field, this will involve an inside lecture. Coaches will be asked to make a small presentation on any topic within football they desire. Anything from Leadership, Psychology, the ins and outs of a certain formation, a technical aspect of teaching; anything the coach desires.
The aim of this exercise is to improve the coaches ability to teach and communicate an idea to a group of people. A further aim is to encourage discussion among coaches about the topic and open up debate that will improve the knowledge of the coach.
As I said before, this is still in its infancy and we are going to start recruiting volunteers for the club committee. The ambition is massive. A club with a clear footballing and club philosophy with values. Creating a great place for kids to train and have fun. Add to that a progression path to the adult teams within club for aspiring footballers; everything is in place for this to become an overwhelming success.
This is not just about getting anyone in to volunteer, we want people that want to grow with the club and agree with the values/club philosophy of the club. We will look to develop players and coaches with our ‘learning culture’. We want to improve both players and coaches. So if you show commitment to us, we’ll show commitment to you.
I’m making these positions available on twitter first because I know about the growing community of coaches now on the social media website. If you are in the London area and are interested in volunteering in one of the coaching roles, send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org with a short cover letter explaining what role you are applying for, a specific age group if desired and a bit about yourself and your experiences. We will be based at Douglas Eyre Sports Centre in East London. The job description and requirements can be found here: Coaching role job descriptions.
This is the start of a minor revolution. Let the work begin!