1. Set up the equipment
As discussed in the article ‘5 things we learned from watching a Newcastle Jets training session,’ being organised is crucial to being a good coach.
Think about how equipment can assist with the delivery of your session.
Having the equipment already set up allows you to start quickly, the less downtime the better!
The key to enjoyment is engagement, and an effective setup can help get your players be engaged quicker.
In the below video the coach transitions from the BEGINNING activity to the MIDDLE activity in less than two minutes.
This was done because the markers were already placed on the sideline to outline the boundary of the next activity, and the players were already in bibs. All the coach had to do was organise the players and provide a quick demonstration.
Again it may not be possible for you to arrive early at training to setup the equipment, but here are two ways to set setup your session early when you don’t have the time.
Try and set up as much equipment as possible for your entire session before it starts, allowing for a quick transition between activities.
2. Demonstrate the practice
Research shows that kids are able to follow illustrations more than instructions, so don’t tell your players what to do, show them.
A picture paints a thousand words, a demonstration will say more than an explanation can.
The most common form of communication is verbal “talking” but often there is too much information to process. But we are influenced more by what we see, not by what we hear.
As a coach you would think the more you say the better your message will get across, but it is often quite the opposite.
Stop telling, and start showing.
3. Give clear instructions
Children are still developing spatial awareness and perception, and as a result need clear direction.
It is important to be very clear and direct with your instructions as a coach.
With young players you might need to walk them directly to where they need to stand, also using colour coded cones and bibs can help give clear direction. I.e. “stand behind the red cone” or “green bibs stand in the green square.”
It is important to give clear instructions as this will reduce the time it takes to get your players organised, and the activity started.
In the above videos, the coach gives very clear directions to organise the players, often these were giving to individuals and not to the whole group.
If you give ambiguous instructions. I.e. “half of you stand over there,” the player’s then need to interpret the message and then decide what to do, which takes time and causes confusion.
4. Start Simple
Kids learn football by playing football, so get them playing as soon as possible.
Young players also have a short attention span and are easily distracted, and will become restless if left unoccupied more than 2-3 minutes.
So get them engaged in an activity quickly, the teaching comes during the practice, not before it, so don’t make it too complicated.
In both of the above videos the coach was able to get the activity started in one minute, it starts simple and becomes more challenging as the practice progresses.
Depending on your level of experience and the age you are coaching 1-2 minutes is a good timeframe to aim for. With kids aged 5-7yrs you might like to aim to get started in under 30 seconds.
This can be done by setting up the equipment beforehand, organising your players with clear direction, and providing a demonstration with simple instruction.
Once they have started and are playing, then you can observe, modify, teach and add progression as you go.