This term ‘weaker foot’ is often used at all ages and abilities – and I still to this day don’t understand the reason why it is used. I believe that with the right work at the right age – you can develop an equally balanced player who has the ‘confidence’ to use either foot. This concept of confidence in vital in developing the ‘weaker foot,’ for example last night in one of my team training sessions I had a team of U13 girls who all when asked to use their furthest foot from the defender – which ultimately was their left foot all said “I can’t use that foot coach” another said “I don’t want to use that foot coach.” I then asked them why and some then said to me “I am scared of failure” and “I will make a mistake with it.” I then told them why they should use that foot; they understood. I then said I “believe in you; try it – let’s see how successful you can be” They tried it in the exercise – and they were surprised with how successful they were with it. We then moved into the game, and players were trying to use it – and then said coach “did you see me use my left foot?” This is when I knew their mind set had changed…
Messi – what did he make lots of? Mistakes – use him as the example star player… “The mistake is not being willing to make the mistakes.”
So our role as a coach is to create a positive environment where anything is possible; where players believe and trust you and themselves enough to try things. If you use the term ‘weaker foot’ I believe you have lost half the battle in developing that area, because players will always use their ‘stronger foot.’ Why? Because if they do they may have a bit more success; they may score a few more goals – but if a player is capable of scoring on both feet? That’s when you’re going to have a lot more success…
So a test for your coaches is the following –
- Ask your players what is your strongest foot? How do they respond?
- Highlight players if they said neither coach –
- If they said they have a strongest foot – change their mind, make them have the belief they can use either foot – and explain the reasons why.
- Highlight when someone tries to use their ‘apparent weaker foot,’ build the confidence of the players to use it.
- Develop exercises such as Ball Mastery and activities where they should ‘try’ to use both feet.
Remember the key to this is developing the player who has the confidence to use both feet… and isn’t afraid of ‘mistakes’ or ‘failure.’ Once you have created this mind set… Once you have a two footed player – it adds a new dimension to their play.
Villa Boas may have had a difficult time at Chelsea, but there is still no doubt of his intelligence as a Manager, and the depth he looks into things. Despite this difficult, this concept of ‘vision’ and his philosophy is still very clear – and I believe he will still become a very good manager. Here is a scouting report that he did for Jose’ when he was a Chelsea. It looks at the analysis of Newcastle United prior to their match. Please see the link below… It is a fantastic read!
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Here is a 20 minute clip of the movie ‘The Secret’ which is a movie which speaks about ‘The Laws of Attraction’ and developing a mindset to believe and make what you want from your life. Please have a look at the movie – it’s a fantastic movie about changing your mindset; but relate this to your players – how can you change the focus of your players to make them believe?
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Here is an overview of FC Barcelona Philosophy which gives you an in depth understanding of what they are trying to achieve that the club from youth level up to senior level. A question I am often asked is “how do I get my team to play a certain way?” Not only does it take the correct coaching and a number of different sessions to develop this style; but you need to remember to play a certain way you need to develop players who can play a certain way. So, think technique – develop players that are technically competent – when they come to the right age you can then ask for more tactically demanding activities.
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Something that has always made me think is the amount of time we get to spend working with children from a GR level; most teams only train 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes a week. So our responsibility is to deliver the right training sessions in the right way – to ensure the children benefit as much as possible. How can we ensure we save time during our training sessions? Well firstly, it’s about good planning ensure you have a good idea of what you are going to be delivering and always look at ‘what can go wrong in my session; and how will I fix it? Some coaches don’t believe in planning because it doesn’t allow you the flexibility to adapt your session to the players; well no that isn’t the case, if you plan efficiently you can work out what you will do for your players – and what you can do if the session goes wrong. Not only will this allow you to record the work you have done with your team and individuals, which is important for their development – but also it will allow you to understand if I was to deliver the session again what I may need to do help the session run better.
Along with planning, it is important you get yourself enough time to set up so when the children arrive they have a ‘pre session’ activity. I appreciate that coaches at GR level have full time jobs and may not be able to get there 15/20 minutes prior to the session, or you are limited for availability on that pitch – if that is the case, plan in the right way to allow to set up efficiently whilst the children are turning up. On top of this, Pre Session Activities – what can they do for your players? Well imagine, you have the same 10 players from your team turn up 10 minutes before your session – what do you do? Even now, I still see so many coaches allowing their players to get the ball and shoot in the goals. What does that build? Bad Habits – get players to get into the habit if they have some free time before, during or after the training to get into Good Habits of ‘practicing’. 10 players turn up 10 minutes before each of your session for 20 sessions of the year – that equates to 200 minutes of extra time they could spend repeating a task. Which I think you’d agree this is a lot of time… here are some ideas which you may wish to use:
– Football Tennis – players are in pairs and try to keep the ball over a line that you have marked off. Build into see how many they can do in a row – this can be a progressive challenge, and also allows you and the players to moderate with their partner if they are improving.
– Possession Squares – when players turn up get players to play 4v1 possession games with the middle player holding a bib, every time they win the ball a different player goes into the middle.
– Juggling activities – get your players to practicing different juggling activities as they turn up.
– Ball Mastery – get your players to practice different ball mastery activities as they turn up.
Here are just a few ideas that I have used that work very well in developing your players, and get them into good habits of practicing when they have time spare. If in your session for whatever reason, you may need some set up time – rather than now telling your players to ‘stop shooting in the goals’ you can now praise them for doing some of these activities. Remember a good coach doesn’t always catch a player when their doing something wrong; but a good coach catches them when they are doing it right.
Another thing to consider when planning your session is how we are going to go from one part of the session to the next. You will need to consider the outcomes of the session – what are we trying to achieve? How will we progress through the session? You may want to consider having different cones under the cones you have already laid out for an exercise. So for the next exercise, pick up these cones underneath your already laid cones, to build the area for the next exercise. There are a number of different methods, ultimately which will save you lots of time during your session.
Bibs – something I have always thought about; rather than giving your bibs out before your game or before an exercise is about to start… when else can you give them out? Well, this is something you can do as part of your Pre Session Activities; as players turn up they get a different color bib and put it on. Or you may wish to wait til when you have a warm up and distribute them whilst your players are involved in the warm up – again this is a great way of saving time and avoiding any arguments like ‘coach I want to be on green team,’ because the children will be to focused to even think about what color team they are on. Again, this is something you may wish to consider when you plan, is having exercises where players are already in teams – so when you go from one exercise to the next players don’t need to take bibs of and put new bibs on.
We could look at your Coaching Style, Coaching Methods etc. but my last tip which I think can allow you to give more information at a time where players are inactive is when they go for a drink. Use this as an area where they can have discussions about the session, and also as an area where you can talk to individuals/small groups all the whole group of what they have done or what they are about to do next. One of the best coaches I have seen doing this, spoke to the whole team throughout the drinks breaks giving each individual specific feedback – but he also used this as a great time to use his visual aids of what he is going to do next. Good Habits… come into my mind again, players can now stay focused on the task – and when they are needed, they are still in the correct mind set.
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Football at the younger ages is now played in a non competitive format; which I rightly agree with. When delivering in your training sessions a great tip to improve the tempo of an exercise is to add competition – whether it be individual competition or group/team competition this is a fantastic tool to improve the speed of the sessions. Why? Try it, next time you are coaching in your session – or your being coached yourself, add a competition and try to win in that competition. Take note, what happens to your mindset? What happens to your performance? What happens to your speed? This will explain why it is a fantastic tool to help improve the energy in that specific exercise.
What are the pros to this?
– Improve speed of play in that specific exercise
– Allows for you to moderate who is being able to perform better at that specific task
– Introduces competition into your sessions – which children need to understand
– Allows you to highlight/praise individuals who have done well in the task
– Hides repetition (very good when used with ball mastery)
Despite their being a number of positives to this method; their are also some negatives that you need to be aware of so moderate how much you use this in your sessions.
What are the negatives?
– With individuals trying to improve the speed of which that are performing a task at – their is a risk that you can loose the quality of the exercise, because individuals will do what they can to win.
– Potential to having the same group or individual not winning the task
So what to do when/if you come across this problems? Emphasis the importance of quality continually during your session – highlight individuals when they take great care and time in their work, but also do it at a good speed. For example, Ball Mastery is most effective when children are repeating the technique correctly a number of times – as soon as you loose that technique, you are getting them to repeat something which isn’t technically correct.
If a player is winning the task, and they are doing it correctly each time – or a group or a team is, make their challenge more difficult? This allows for more of an equal battle, and allows you diversify even when competition is installed into the practice. This allows you to give the players who are finding the task more difficult a higher chance of success – which ultimately improves this ‘positive’ environment you need to create.
Ideas of competitions you can put into your session?
– First player to ten?
– First team to have two turns each?
Remember.. a good coach doesn’t catch the player when he/she just wins all of the times, a good coach makes things progressively more challenging for the individuals that need challenging – and highlights when someone has improved. That’s when you give your praise in front of the whole group..
I have now been working for a number of years as coach, but I don’t see myself as that anymore more of a ‘personal trainer’ and it has been a wonderful journey so far. Having had experience working in England and in the USA – I have come across many difficult situations, but also many situations where you feel proud to be a coach. Through my Blog I hope to share these experiences with you, but also to help you with any ideas of sessions, exercises and more importantly coaching tips.
Why am I a coach? This is part of the reason, having the belief that you can make a difference in any persons life in and outside of football. You can help change and develop peoples ideas and beliefs, for the better… I hope to do this via this website.
Having workd for Norwich Community Scheme, PDC and Academy for 4 years and TSF Academy based in New Jersey – but now currently working with Coerver Coaching in Norfolk, I have worked with a number of different coaches of different levels – and wherever I have gone I have always been fascinated by this concept of the ‘opnion.’ So here is my ‘opnion,’ on this and I hope you enjoy it.