EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

When players behave it’s wonderful, but when they don’t…

Watching the players at a tournament earlier this month was a great way to kick start the season. The behaviour of every single age group was wonderful – which makes it such a pleasure to watch.

5v5 Ewhurst v Albury 2017
Ewhurst played Albury in the final of the Under 7s age group

The team Soccer Coach Weekly is sponsoring this year is Ewhurst JFC Under 7s – it is the polar opposite of the team we sponsored for the last two seasons Burpham FC which is a grassroots adult team.

The Burpham sponsorship was great for them as they had finished bottom of the bottom league and came to me for some advice. It helped the team get promoted and cement their place in the league above.

The Ewhurst sponsorship is a different case all together. This is all about player development and they will be using my EasiCoach curriculum to get the girls and boys in the team up to become the best players they can be.

30 players in three teams

There are 30 players across three teams playing 5v5 so that is a big squad for their age group but they are already considering making a fourth team – obviously finding a dad coach is one of the keys to them making this work and getting the fourth team into some sort of shape.

What they need to ensure is that every one of those 30 players has equal game time on the pitch – which is down to the individual coaches. The problem I have always found at this age group is when you first start playing matches you can see the kids who have siblings because they know what they are doing!

If they’ve spent any time in the garden before the evening meal playing with their brothers and sisters they always have a headstart on the other players in the team. Some of them will hardly have kicked a ball – that is where the difficulties start, you have to let them develop into the players they can be.

Of course the parents will be eager-eyed looking out for their own children and will have plenty of words of advice for the novice coaches taking teams for the first time.

Watching my son referee the U18s

Having had such a positive experience with a young team this month I had the opposite experience at the weekend. My son was refereeing for the Under 18s – it is his first season at this level and the matches are now 90 minutes.

At this age the players are almost adults and have certainly seen a lot of things that go on in the professional game. So most of the match is the players and the managers shouting for a foul at the referee. At one point in the game one of the players tried to headbutt an opponent and was sent off.

The manager of his team was steaming and was straight over to my son at half time to remonstrate with him about the sending off. I have to keep myself in check in these instances because I am not there in any official capacity – just there for his safety!

He dealt with it well but it still makes me annoyed that rather than talk to his team at half time when they were losing he chose to spend it arguing with the referee. His players were all the same taking their lead from him and being more interested in getting their own back than playing the game.

Concentrate on the play and how your team are playing before looking for excuses and blaming the officials. In my opinion good coaching and tactics can make up for losing a player at youth level.

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