The early weeks of the new season can be difficult to manage... just ask Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United. All those expectations can come to nothing if the team fails to play to its full potential. Use my tips to help you get your team back to winning ways MORE
12 ways to make training festive
Make your last training session before the Christmas break a memorable experience for your players by giving it a festive theme and by trying some of our 12 fun tips…
1 MAKE IT FANCY DRESS
Pre-warn all the players of your plans a week early, giving them an idea of the Christmas fun and games that you’re planning. Ask everyone to come to training wearing something festive. Full-blown fancy dress might hamper the session so restrict it to one item, such as Christmas socks, fake antlers or a Santa beard.
2 USE FUN NAMES
Rename as many items of kit as you can, using a festive theme – and tell players that for one session only they have to use these terms. So the ball becomes the ‘Christmas pudding’, goals are ‘Santa’s sack’, socks are ‘Christmas stockings’, and when someone has to tie their laces, they have to ask if they can ‘wrap a present’.
3 USE REINDEER HELPERS
Appoint some ‘reindeer’ to help carry your kit to and from your car. Get others to assist in laying the table for Christmas dinner (set up) and then ask the rest to clear the table (pack up the kit) afterwards.
4 PASS THE PARCEL
Warm up with a drill that involves ball retention through passing – only do it to music and when the music stops the person in possession is out or has to do a forfeit. It’s effectively ‘pass the parcel’ with the ball, but call it ‘pass the Christmas pudding’ to make it more festive.
5 WEAR RUDOLPH’S NOSE
Get hold of a couple of comedy red ‘Rudolph’ noses and award them like yellow cards, giving them to players who handle the ball, commit a foul throw or even if they make a poor pass. Insist they wear the nose until the next person does something similar and then pass it on.
6 WEAR SANTA HATS
Instead of wearing bibs in training games, why not get some cheap Santa hats for the players. Chasers in possession games can wear these hats until they swap over.
7 DRINK CHRISTMAS PUNCH
Fill water bottles with a mixture of diluted squashes for breaks in training – tell players that it’s ‘Christmas punch’. It’s a bit of fun and the kids might just take on more fluid that normal.
8 PLAY CHRISTMAS GAMES
Divide your squad into groups and play festive themed games such as the activity on the next page. Use Christmas-inspired names for the different teams. In our game Father Christmas plays a one-two with the reindeer, while goalkeepers try to spoil the fun as the Grinches. Or you can adapt any of our sessions and use team names such as ‘Elves’ or ‘Scrooges’.
9 USE FESTIVE FORFEITS
If a team concedes a goal or comes out second best in a drill, get them to sing a verse of a Christmas carol as a forfeit. You may have to lead this but as long as it’s done as a group, no one should be too embarrassed and it will get everyone laughing.
10 AWARD YULETIDE PRIZES
At the end of the session give a ‘Shepherd’s prize’ to the three players who have most led by example rather than followed like sheep during training. Also give a prize to the ‘three-wise men’ – those players who have made good decisions, showed presence of mind and generally used their brains during the session.
11 FILL SANTA’S SACK
Finish training by getting players to chip the balls into the ball bag (Santa’s sack). Use two teams with five balls each and the winning team get to share a bar of chocolate or some other Christmas treat. Not only are the children playing a game and practising a skill (chipping), but it’s also a great way to clear all the balls away and the coach can get off early for Christmas shopping!
12 REMEMBER THE CHRISTMAS STOCKING
Dish out some Christmas chocolates at the end to everyone. Chocolate coins are good or if you’re feeling particularly generous, you can get small selection boxes quite cheaply.