What a week. I’ve done everything from referee an U8s friendly where one of the boys refused to take off his padded rain jacket and put his bib over the top of it (“I’m a bit cold”) to an U18 training session working on creating and shooting from outside the box – believe me, they can kick a ball. Here are two positives and two negatives from my week:
- 1. During a tournament game I was watching an U10s match where one side was much better than the other. As the match wore on the players on the losing team were getting dejected. At one point the attacker on the winning team scored goal number 8. As a cheer went up the player who scored pushed his teammates away and went over to the goalkeeper who was crying. He put a hand on his shoulder and spoke to him. “Not your fault,” he said. The goalkeeper smiled and nodded and carried on.
- 2. At another tournament I worked out there were around 50 teams sharing 8 pitches all camped out together. In over four hours I heard nothing but laughing and cheering, there was such a positive vibe – it was so encouraging to see.
- 1. I heard a coach shouting at his U9s and went to watch. One of his comments was: “I’ve told you where to stand, now GO THERE! ARE YOU SCARED OF HIM!”
- 2. One of our goalkeepers played exceptionally well. In one match we were winning 1-0 with a couple of minutes to go when a scramble in the box saw the opposition nearly score but our goalkeeper dived on the ball. The two opposition strikers started kicking as hard as they could to try and get the ball. They couldn’t get it but they hurt him and walked away with a ‘what have we done’ gesture without even checking to see if he was alright. Luckily he was.
I also saw a great initiative this week called the boot bench where players can bring a pair of boots and swap them for another pair… why have I been paying over £100 a go?
Tournaments are great preparation for pre-season work because the ones that don’t do tournament are the ones that have been on the Xbox for the whole holiday.
I remember one season starting with my usual team and three of them were not up to the physical side of the game, and we ended up looking like a poor, lopsided team.
What I now always do is keep going throughout the break with short training sessions, then build up to the season so all the players get back to a fitness level they can build on to take through the rest of the season.
Make sure you check your own fitness too, especially if you referee games – you and your team have to get back into top gear. For your players it’s all about getting used to the speed of play and control of the ball again. For you it’s all about being fit enough to run training sessions, or run for a whole match as the referee.