Thursday, 8 December 2011

Grasssroots Coaching....The English Way?

There is a lot of talk in the media and on the web about English coaches so I thought I would write a stereotypical English session. The sort many adults may have run before they become educated in how children learn and develop. Give a dad some balls and some kids to train and this what you may have expected to see.

Warm Up - Watch any pro game and you will see players doing a lot of running to warm up. So get the kids warmed up by sending them on laps of the pitch, jogging along the length and sprinting along the width. To prevent it getting boring for them you could make them touch the ground or jump and header on your command. If anyone doesn't put the effort in - send them all around again. Make sure the training balls stay in the bag until you are satisfied that they are all out of breath and ready to train!

Cone Dribbling - This one is all about the line. A line of cones and line of players. Space should be limited to one or two paces between each cone. Make sure that you the coach go first and show them how its done. An example of the drill is shown in the video below, although obviously you will have more players waiting in the line to have their turn than this coach does.

King of the Ring - A player that cant dribble and keep possession of the ball in this game will spend a lot of time watching his mates. Every player has a ball and dribbles it around the area (the ring), on the coaches word the battle begins and players have to kick their teammates ball our of the ring while keeping control of their own ball. When a players ball is kicked out they go and wait at a designated area. the last player with a ball is crowned King of the Ring. This video demonstrates the game well, but don't bother with any of the skills challenges, have them wait for the next game.

Shooting PracticeShooting practice again gives the coach a lot more opportunities to touch the ball than the players. The players all line up somewhere outside the area, then either by throwing or passing the ball, the coach sets up each player in turn for a shot at goal. This video of the USWNT gives you an idea of what to do...

Normal Match This is the coaches opportunity to show how good he is and that given the right circumstances he could of made it as a Professional. To ensure he is on the winning side the coach should ensure that he has the best players on his team, also don't forget as well as being Captain of the team, you need to be referee as well (split decisions should always go your way - its an unwritten rule!). After all the result of any match is the most important thing...right???

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Dealing with Emotions

As a young player one of the biggest challenges on the football pitch is dealing with emotions. Whether it’s anger, frustration or despondency a young footballer often allows his or her emotions to rule their game. As a footballpsychologist helping youth team players with this emotional challenge is a big part of my work. 

The primary reason why it’s more difficult for a youth team player to deal with emotions is because of the way in which the brain is designed. Let me explain a little. It is the middle part of the brain which is the emotional part of the brain. This is the part that fires up when you get angry, frustrated or despondent. In stark contrast the front part of the brain is the rational part that allows you to manage your emotions. It helps you to think and bring reason to any situation. Despite the fact that some adults are better than others at managing their emotions, it is not until adulthood that the front part of the brain fully connects with the emotional middle brain. In fact it’s not until the age of 25 that all the connections fully develop. Before that age, and especially as a teenager there are fewer connections so your ability to deal with tough times on the pitch are limited.

However there are footballpsychology techniques that you can use that help you grow these connections and help you become better at dealing with emotions and in turn more focused. Here is a simple 4-step process to improve your emotional management:

1.As a footballpsychologist I tell my clients that managing emotions actually begins before playing. It’s so important to understand that football is not a game of perfect. Decisions are going to go against you, you will make mistakes as will your team mates, some weeks your opponents will play miraculously well and some weeks things will just go against you. Accept this. Before you cross that white line say to yourself “Ok there will be some moments during the game today when things will happen that I don’t like. Make sure I forget these moments and keep playing positively.”

2.Emotions start to get out of control when you focus on the things you can’t control. There is a great saying in footballpsychology which is “Control the controllables.” Recognise what you can and can’t control and make sure you don’t sweat the things you can’t. Focus on the things you can control. Examples of things you can’t control on the pitch include the referee and the conditions of the pitch. Both are beyond our control and yet I continue to see and experience players who get wound up by both.

3.Managing emotions start with SPOTTING that you are getting angry, frustrated or down on yourself. In fact this is the most crucial part of emotional management. Allow a negative emotion to take hold and it can wreck your game. Awareness is the first step in dealing with your feelings. When you SPOT that you are getting angry label what is happening to you. Say to yourself “I am getting angry”. Some of the leading science researchers in the world have discovered that simply labelling the emotion you are feeling is alone enough to deal with the emotion. As a footballpsychologist I find this method really effective.

4. Now it’s time to SHIFT that negative emotion. Shift your anger by taking some deep breaths and by telling yourself to “relax!” Simple idea but not always easy to do. If you are feeling despondent then lift yourself by using your body language. Start moving, constantly check your shoulders to see what’s going on around you, get on your toes and communicate with your team mates loudly. You need actions that get adrenaline and dopamine (your focus hormone) flowing to raise your alertness and motivation. Classic footballpsychology in action!