Do you remember the good old days?
Where kid’s used to just go out on the streets or playing fields and play for hours on end?
I am almost 36 now, and I remember my childhood fondly. Playing in football cages was where I honed my football skills.
The tight spaces taught me to screen and place the ball on the safe side away from the opposition.
The unforgiving hard surfaces forced me to improve my ball control as the ball was always bobbling, so quick & soft touches were a must.
The pitches were always overcrowded, so having good awareness was important because you were never far from the opposition.
And finally, to be successful in the streets/football cages you had to be skilful and capable of making quick decisions!
Fast forward to the present day and things now look very different.
Even before the current pandemic, kid’s prefered to be indoors and use the latest devices to keep themselves occupied, instead of hitting the streets & playing fields.
Even if they wanted to, many parents are fearful of allowing their kids to venture out themselves to play games with their friends.
So what is the alternative?
How have parents adapted to the current climate and how can you ensure your child doesn’t miss out on developing the core skills required to play the game effectively?
In this article, I will discuss how any parent can help their child progress in football!
Can I Play A Game Mom & Dad?
Never forget the importance of allowing your kids to just play the game freely without adult interference.
Free play, gives your child the opportunity to try out new techniques or skills without judgement.
This also gives your child the opportunity to practice the skills that they have learnt either in football training or working 121 with a parent or coach.
At present, we are living in a generation where a child’s only experience of football is a structured coaching session from a coach.
This is not entirely a bad thing (if the coach is good) but this shouldn’t be the only way a child can play football.
Encourage them to play the game with friends or if there are local organisations who run ‘free play’ sessions sign them up.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, “but Kurtis I don’t have anything like that available to me in my area” or “my child’s team coach is a good person but they lack knowledge & experience when it comes to coaching. How do I ensure they don’t miss out on learning the core skills”?
If the above speaks to you, then what I am about to share with you will help you develop a strategy for working with your child at home.
Ever heard the saying ‘prepare to plan or prepare to fail’?
Without a plan in mind, how can you expect to support all the needs that your child requires? it’s just not possible.
What tends to happen is, you will spend an hour or so searching the net for the next best training session to work on or something you saw missing from the last game.
Using this ‘reactive’ approach is too ad-hoc to instil real progression in your child’s development.
To create real ‘change’ you need to have a concrete plan that is ‘holistic’ and focuses on developing the core skills required, not what they did wrong in the previous game.
I recommend that you use blocks of at least 2 – 3 sessions (sometimes more if needed) before moving to a new topic.
Doing it this way, will help embed your teachings and increase the chances of them being transferred to the game.
Don't Do It For Them, Guide Them!
We currently live in a very ‘drill’ orientated world where you see parents & coaches constantly giving instructions to young players on the sidelines.
This culture of ‘being in control’ is what most believe will help players develop because you are telling them how to do it.
What normally happens when someone is constantly telling you what to do all at once?
It just becomes noise and you no longer listen to the instruction!
There is a better way, where we look to guide the player to the solution instead of telling them how to do it all the time. We call this guided discovery.
First, you must set the scene by creating scenarios that present your child with a football problem that brings out your task i.e teaching the child to stay with the ball.
Now that you have set the task, prepare to ask the child questions that will help the player find the solutions to the problem i.e when you are dribbling how do you see what is around you? The child should then say “by keeping my eyes up”.
This is a lot more effective than doing it for them, as now they are thinking for themselves.
Getting the child to realize this for themselves will help embed your teaching points.
This will increase the chances of it being transferred to the game.
Can You Relate It To The Game?
Do you remember when you first learned how to cross the road?
If it was similar to my experience your parents held your hand while you crossed the road giving you little prompts along the way to remind you of what to be aware of.
During this time you had to be aware of oncoming cars, other pedestrians that were crossing & the road signals that let you know when it was safe to cross.
Have you noticed that everything was taught in a realistic situation with the guidance of the parent?
If you want your child to transfer their learned skills to the game then you must make every effort to create environments that are game-specific, allowing the child to see how it fits into the real game.
Precious time is wasted when using coaching ‘gimmicks’ such as hurdles & ladders or ‘drill’ type sessions that don’t occur in the game.
The game of football is a ‘chaotic’ game, therefore you should aim to create situations where multiple outcomes are possible.
This is why I encourage you to be involved in the session as much as possible to add this extra element.
Play 1v1s (obviously keeping to their level), use visual aids to encourage their awareness such as cones or your hands and look for moments to reduce the space by either using yourself or just changing the area size.
You don’t need to spend thousands every year on a personal football coach to develop your child’s technique away from training.
With a plan and the right environment a parent can have the same success as most pro coaches.
If you want free advice on how you can achieve this then click the image below!