Over the past couple of weeks, much of youth sports around the world have been postponed due to COVID-19 and the ongoing spread of the virus. For both coaches and athletes this presents a unique challenge, as self-isolation and social distancing makes practicing a team sport particularly difficult. That said, it’s not as though nothing can be done in this time of self-isolation or as though players must spend all day on their phones. Here are some ways to keep your players engaged during this time.
Many coaches often use websites like YouTube to explore various session ideas and activities, but YouTube can be an underrated tool to help your players develop in many other ways. Accounts like SimplySoccer and Joner1on1 have loads of ideas to keep players engaged and practice on their own. There are many others that produce great, easy to follow content for players.
Coaches can also send players YouTube videos of players that they should watch and model themselves after, while giving them a specific aspect in the videos to focus on. For example, for a striker you might send them videos of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Vivianne Miedema, while asking the player to pay attention to the timing of the runs and the off-the-ball movement that leads those players to score so many goals.
QUIZZES AND KAHOOTS
Another idea may be to send your players a Quiz or a Kahoot! and challenge them to compete against each other. Often times questions in soccer don’t have just one right answer, but questions can still be guided well enough to help players solve a series of problems and think about the game. Questions like “If you have space and time on the ball should you advance into the space or pass?” or rephrasing this question in a ‘True or False’ fashion may be a good way to get players to think about the game and stay connected to the team.
PREVIOUS MATCH FOOTAGE
If you’ve recorded any games recently, now would be a great time to go back into those videos and pick out some specific moments or ask your players to watch the match. It is a neat opportunity for players to be able to watch themselves on a video and examine what they did right and wrong in various moments throughout the game.
REFLECTION & SETTING GOALS
If you don’t have any match footage, you can also ask players to reflect on what they’ve learned so far across the season or where they can improve. You can ask them to set goals for what they hope to accomplish in the upcoming or remainder of their season or provide them with more formal evaluations on their strengths and areas of improvement.
ACTIVITIES THAT CAN BE DONE AT HOME
Those same YouTube accounts listed earlier have loads of great activity ideas for athletes to do on their own. Coaches can encourage their players to work on activities that can be done with a wall, a sibling, in a recreation room, or in a backyard. These activities can go beyond just juggling, to practicing skill moves, shooting on a net or 1v1 games that can easily be done against a sibling or friend. Your clubs and technical directors will also have lots of great ideas for activities players can do at home so consider reaching out to those individuals as well.
Although this is a difficult and unprecedented time, coaches must find ways during this time to keep their players involved and engaged. When soccer eventually does make a return, players need to be ready to get going right away. Furthermore, you wouldn’t want this hiatus to cause players to lose their love of the game or fall out of touch with it. As a coach, you have the knowledge and the resources to help keep players engaged at this time and you can still provide guidance and coach, even if it is from home.
Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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