This winter, every junior football coach will have all the tools they need to become a super-coach.
iCoach is a series of ten instructional coaching videos created in conjunction with Central Football, aimed at parents who are new to coaching football, and provide tips, warm-ups and games for each week of training.
Watch the videos:
Week 1 - Philosophy
Week 2 - Communication
Week 3 - Engagement
Week 4 - Structure
Week 5 - Skill Development
Week 6 - Recognition
Week 7 - Student Voice
Week 8 - Adaptable
Week 9 - Whanau
Week 10 - Reflection
Week 1 - PhilosophyFor the first training of the season, we encourage you to create a positive team environment that will ensure athletes have fun all season long. A positive team philosophy is one that focuses on skill development and having fun, instead of winning at all costs. This week's video features two activities designed to focus on having fun, not winning.For this session you will need: one ball per player and a 15m by 18m square marked out with cones
Week 2 - CommunicationFor week two we focus on improving our methods of communication to maxmise our team trainings. Keep your team busy and avoid talking at length, don't talk at them, get down to their level and use kid-friendly language. This week, we've selected two activities that will test your communication skills, and have your team communicating with one another. For this session you will need: one ball per player, and a 15m by 18m rectangle marked out with cones
Week 3 - EngagementThis week our focus is on engaging our players through fun, active practices. Make sure you have enough equipment for everyone, and use stories and make-believe to develop movements and skills. We've included two games that will captivate your players, and encourage you to be silly and involve yourself in make-believe. Trust us, you'll have fun! For this session you will need one peice of material/flag per player, one ball per player, and a 15m by 18m rectangle marked out with cones
Week 4 - StructureCoaching junior players is chaos. Organise that chaos by setting up before your team arrive, structuring your sessions the same every week and using games instead of drills. Throughout this entire series we've broken up our sessions into a warm-up and a skill game, and we always recommend finishing your practice with an actual game of football. For this session you will need: five balls, and a 15m by 18m rectangle with two goals at each end, in the corners.
Week 5 - Skill DevelopmentYou might remember from week one that our team philospohy is to focus on skill development over winning. That's because being skillful is fun! Explain and demonstrate skills, and don't be scared to have the kids demonstrate. Give them the chance to imitate the new skills through skill games, then consolidate that skill in an actual game at the end of training. For this session you will need one ball per player, a red and green paddle (we used fly-swatters), and a 15m by 18m rectangle
Week 6 - RecognitionThis week we encourage you to strengthen your relationships with your players through showing them that you care, and acknowledge each of them through greeting and encouragement. We've selected a warm up and skill game that will get you interacting and having fun with your team! For this session you will need: a 15m by 18m rectangle marked out with cones, and one ball per player
Week 7 - Student VoiceThis week we encourage you to listen to your players. Involve them in discussion, establish what they already know, and have them demonstrate the skills that they're using in warm ups and skill games. Draw from the group when you're introducing games and challenge yourself to talk less, and listen more. For this session you will need: a 15m by 18m square marked out by cones, a 3m wide 'gauntlet' with one cone for each player (if you have uneven numbers, you'll have to join in) and one ball between two. Rubber chicken: optional
Week 8 - AdaptableCoaching junior players is changeable, high paced and constantly subect to unforseen circumstances. Come to practice with a plan but don't be afraid to adapt it to the needs of the kids. Welcome the input of your players on adapting your activities. This week we've selected two games that can be easily adapted to suit any training. For this session you will need: one ball per player, and a 15m by 18m rectangle marked out with cones.
Week 9 - WhanauInvolve the parents of your team. They will value being included and it will help to ease the load on game day. Explain your coaching philosophy to parents so that they understand your choices. Lastly, encourage them to play with their kids. At this age kids need repetition to build skills and having a parent at home to support this will be a huge help to your players. This week, we have a set of activities designed to involve parents in their child's football, during your regular training, and at home. For this session you will need one ball between two players, and a 15m by 18m rectangle with two goals at each end, in the corners
Week 10 - ReflectionYou've been a successful coach if your players have improved, had fun, and will play again next year. This week we recommend you reflect on your trainings so far this term. Ask the kids which ones were their favourites, and play those! For this session you should be prepared with one ball per player, one flag/piece of material per player and a 15m by 18m rectangle marked out with cones
Coaching 5-7 year olds will always have a few challenges. These are some strategies that we’ve come up with over years of coaching, and talking to other coaches.
There will be an adjustment period where your child may struggle to define your role in a team situation. Your child might wonder, ‘are you my coach or my parent?’ In the team environment your child will need to learn that you are a coach first and foremost, and you put the needs of the team first as opposed to your role as a parent who specifically meets their needs individually.
Continuously reinforce that you are a coach at practice and games, and a mum or dad outside of those settings. Conversely for you, try not to be too much of a coach at home, just a parent.
Until your child understands the role of a coach, it is not uncommon for them to challenge the authority of the parent/coach by crying and being generally uncooperative. This role definition for your child won't happen overnight. Persevere by praising the behaviour you want and ignoring the behaviour you don't want.
One thing that may help with defining roles is to have your child call you coach at trainings and games.
Coaching is a teaching environment. As any teacher will tell you, if you do not control the environment then learning is compromised and the opportunity for everyone to have fun is reduced.
Strategies that may help you to deliver a fun and quality learning experience are:
- Have the children put their hands up when asked questions
- As per the i-Coach video’s, use “ RED LIGHT “ to ensure the players are listening to your instruction.
- Praise the behaviour you want and ignore the behaviour you don’t want
- Work with the child’s parents to find solutions regarding behaviour
- Continuously outline your expectations of team behaviour and be consistent about enforcing strategies that address negative behaviour. A “TEAM FIRST” approach will not only promote positive behaviour but also create a reference point to which you can create your team behaviour expectations
- Get to know the child on a personal level to build trust and develop a caring relationship. Nobody cares what you know until they know you care
- Outline your expectation to all parents prior to competition about accepted parent behaviour. Be clear in communicating with your players' parents how we talk to people involved in our team environment, everyone deserves an equal opportunity to play and that you are a coach that emphasises fun over winning.
- Check to see if the school have a sideline behaviour policy or a parent code of conduct process.
Deal with it
- Address parent one on one away from the team environment.
- Work with the school to find solutions.
- Give the offending parent the role of monitoring the sideline behaviour.
- Praise the behaviour you want from parents at the end of the game.
- You as a coach need to role model the positive behaviour you want from parents.
- Supply lollipops for overly vocal parents. If they're sucking, they're not yelling.
The Hard to Engage Child
- Invest time to try and connect personally to build a relationship of trust.
- Within the context of your warm ups and skill games, look for opportunities and roles that forces them to engage gradually eg in tag games make them IT, partner activities, ask them demonstrate when they do something well.
- Work with parents or school to find solutions.
Use constraints at your training to change behaviour by modifying the rules to promote skill development, teamwork and fun. If you have a child that likes to dominate the ball, try implementing rules that promote team work such as two touches then pass, left foot only, you can’t score two goals in a row. It's good to use constraints as a team, rather than with individuals.
Constraints can also be used in games, to ensure that all players get adequate ball time, and have maximum fun!