Nick Corrigan’s Soccer Schools are here to ensure that your chid is able to feel welcome in team activities and games and ultimately be there for them to aid them as they improve.
Nick Corrigan firmly believes that every child deserves the same attention and consideration and through particular fun exercises, the children are able to learn from one another and look forward to coming each and every week.
MEET THE COACHES
“The “silly” games do in fact have a purpose and should be enjoyed by all playing and watching, as football can get a bit too serious very quickly, as the kids grow older. Let them have fun first.” John H.
“As a parent it was great to see the children enjoy participating in such a healthy outlet and improving on their skills as the term progressed. I have no hesitation in recommending Nick Corrigan's Soccer School to other families” Linda P.
“Nic I would like to thank you for the job that you do....our son comes away smiling after each lesson from you.Thanks again” Tania. R
My opinions and coaching tips for parents about to become coaches at our local clubs here in Perth
Coach for players aged 5-11
1) You’re coaching children, not adults
Getting young children ready for the new season is not the same as the preparation an adult player might be involved in. Pre-season for adults has long been associated with running laps and doing ‘doggies’ until exhaustion. If you are coaching children you must allow all sessions to be enjoyable, exciting and active. This should also be the aim at any stage of the season, not just through the summer.
2) Use fun movement activities
Warm-ups for our young players should be engaging, enjoyable and active. Look to include a wide range of movements and activities that are fun to be involved in such as running, chasing, dodging, jumping, twisting and turning. Get the children laughing and out of breath. Include throwing and catching where you can. Games like tag rugby or dodgeball are great warm-ups.
3) The ball
All players attend training, so they can play football and have lots of touches of the ball. Make sure you use the ball in your sessions as much as possible. Every child should have a ball to start off with each training session.
4) Play a variety of games
Play lots of small-sided games using different numbers of players and on pitches of different sizes. Getting the players playing matches is a great thing to include early on in both an individual session or in a pre season programme. Try and play different formats of football you intend to play on match days - this might be 6v6 or 7v7
5) Big group, big area
During the first couple of weeks of pre season training find time to involve all the players as one big group (or two smaller groups) working in larger areas. This lowers the intensity at the start of pre-season and eases the players back into action.
6) Make things harder as the weeks go on
Smaller groups in smaller areas can be introduced as the weeks progress. 4v4 would be perfect after week three (particularly if for the previous two weeks you have played 6v6 or even 7v7). For each session think about how you can make it slightly harder for the players by increasing the time spent on the task.
7) Create individual challenges
Respect each child as an individual and adapt the session or challenge for them. Throughout pre season try to pair or group players together for different outcomes so that their individual needs are met more often.
8) Add variety
If you train more than once a week, try to vary the kind of things you work on during sessions. Try to change the session theme so that the players are not always undertaking the same repetitive actions.
9) Concise communication followed by chance to practice
With all the activities and games you use try to give small amounts of clear and simple help and advice followed by lots of opportunities for the players to practise. Always add lots of encouragement.
10) Make sure that the players want to come back
It is very important that your summer sessions involve play, enjoyment and football. Playing games in training is vital so get the group into small-sided games as much as possible. Create something so special that the players cannot wait for the next session.
WHEN ARE WE GONNA HAVE A GAME
I’d be willing to bet that this is the question that coaches up and down the country probably get asked most often.
Why is this? Don’t these kids realise how much time and effort we’ve put into researching and planning this nice, neat and tidy drill? Those six words are enough to sink the spirit of the most well-intentioned.
Definition: What is a game?
1. A form of competitive activity or sport played according to rules.
2. An activity that one engages in for amusement.
A game in a coaching context isn’t necessarily ‘the game’ – the version they experience on a weekend. Although, it may well be. A game, simply, may be a practice that has rules, some form of scoring system and/or competition.
Why use games?
Unlike repetitive drills, the decisions that the players make in games are not pre-determined by the practice or the coach and the outcomes are uncertain. A bit like a match.
Games provide excitement through their realism and they engage. They can be manipulated to challenge the players appropriately.
A game in a coaching context isn’t necessarily ‘the game’ – the version they experience on the weekend.
These ingredients of freedom offer a glimpse as to why games are so enjoyable.
‘I’m going to stop learning this because it’s too much fun,’ said no-one, ever! Games give the players the opportunity to develop their craft for the match.
If us adults weren’t around, games are what the children would play. Ever remember queuing up ten deep or standing in nice neat lines during break time at school? Nor me. Remember Wembley Doubles, Heads and Volleys, Three-and-in and everything else we played on the street? Me too. There was a reason for this. We were, perhaps unintentionally, developing our craft.
So what to do?
It’s training night and the parents and players have arrived. The latter giddy with excitement. The former interested to see what practices we have prepared to teach to their sons and daughters.
We need to reassure the parents that developing players learn best through games. That such practices will often look chaotic and messy instead of being tidy and regimented. A bit like a match.
Keep it simple. One of the reasons why our beautiful game is the world’s most popular sport is due to its simplicity. Two teams, two goals, one ball. SIMPLE
The same can be said for the practices that we design for our players to learn from. If in doubt, think ‘how might I add simple rules, scoring and competition?’ Or even ask the players what they would do. They may surprise you.
Maybe where we’ve gone wrong in the past is because we’ve used ‘the game’ as a carrot – ‘If you’re good and do these drills then we’ll have a game at the end.’ Blah de Blah
Or ‘It’s your game time at the end you’re wasting.’ This carrot is one that is often dangled until the end of the session. Until we feel as though we’ve got what we want from the session.
Games can take place whenever possible – not just at the end of a session as a carrot for good behaviour
I’ve often had coaching parents ask me why their players’ behaviour is erratic until they have a game. The irony is that the thing we are trying to help the players get better at (‘the game’) is the thing that we often try to use to control their behaviour. The thing that we don’t feel that they’ve earned until they’ve ‘mastered the basics’.
Why is this practice so common? It’s similar to telling children that ‘if you’re good and eat all your vegetables then you’ll get a desert.’ (Is it any wonder that vegetables – and indeed repetitive drills – have such a bad name among so many kids?).
What this tradition of coaching practice also does is wait until the players are more fatigued – at the end of the session – until they start practicing the things that they are more likely to be repeating at the weekend.
We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.
So when are we having a game?
When I coached youngsters a number of years ago for a local club.
I noticed that players who were trained on a diet of games arrived at training much more relaxed as they knew that their sessions were not about to be dominated by the coach and that they would have the chance to apply and expend their stored creative energy.
WHOS CHILDREN ARE GOING THROUGH THE FOOTBALL ACADEMIES HERE IN PERTH?
There’s no doubt that football academies are harsh environments. Even the English FA’s official website describes the process of getting released by one as ‘heart-breaking’, which, considering they’re trying to increase participation levels, is hardly encouraging… Are we following the same path ??
It’s entirely truthful though and not particularly surprising; when the stakes are so high, the consequences of being rejected become even more considerable. The disappointment of being let go by a Professional football club would be enough to crush any youngster so, when the huge financial influence is also factored in, the pressure can often become unbearable.
Children not even old enough to attend secondary school are exposed to a stressful, ruthless environment in which their every move is carefully monitored and analysed. Those judged to be progressing too slowly are filtered out of the system as early as possible, but the players really at risk are the ones that succeed in making the first few cuts.
The reason for this is simple and something the English FA’s site also alludes to; young footballers tend to get carried away. Tell a ten-year-old he’s good and he’ll dream about being the next Messi. Tell a sixteen-year-old he’s good and he’ll think he really is the next Messi. The further teenagers progress down the path of becoming a professional footballer, the more they begin to prioritise the beautiful game over everything else in their lives. Football, for many, becomes an obsession and this is something that authorities need to guard against.
While it’s fantastic that the next generation are competitive and hungry to do well, the current clamour for more home-grown talent and the amount of money being spent on the best academy graduates means that, if anything, academies are encouraging rather than discouraging this kind of compulsive attitude. This has to change.
Spurring youth players on to succeed at all costs may benefit those who finally make the grade but, for the majority who don’t, it can very seriously damage their career prospects and later lives. The English PFA estimates that, for every five players offered academy scholarships, only two will receive full-time contracts at the age of eighteen and only one will still be playing professionally by the time they’re twenty-one.