COVID-19 has presented a unique opportunity for community sports organizations and their coaches to rethink their practices and work toward greater inclusivity. In Canada, few opportunities exist in the community for youth to practice on their own through unstructured play and unstructured learning environments. This episode explores how we can create these unstructured sporting environments in Canada, using programs like Kicks in the UK as an example. We also explore how to inspire youth to achieve greater individual involvement in the sport, both in terms of participation and individual involvement within games.
That quote, from one of football's greatest ever players, is the opening statement by which Play with Your Brain: A Guide to Smarter Soccer for Players, Coaches and Parents, predicates itself upon. The book serves as a wonderful guide for anyone involved in the beautiful game to learn how players can become better, smarter soccer players. Author of the book Travis Norsen gives TheMastermindSite.com an exclusive interview about his thoughts on the book and what players, coaches and parents can learn from reading his guide. Be sure to check out the book on Amazon.
Although some coaches believe in avoiding captains altogether, it is unquestionable how many positive outcomes can come from allowing players to take on leadership roles, such as in the form of a captaincy. Giving a player or two an armband can be great for developing confidence, leadership, positivity and teamwork within the entire team; not … Continue reading How To Be A Good Sports Captain
In my early days of coaching, I picked up very quickly on the fact that players developed an affinity for positions that they played more often. Therefore sometimes when a positional change became necessary, simply playing the player in that position more regularly allowed the player to develop greater confidence and affinity for playing in that position. These effects occurred even when the player started out by dreading the role and thinking themselves to be ill-equipped to perform there. In psychology, this is called the "mere exposure effect". Quite simply, by having more exposure to something, one's motivation, desire and enjoyment of that thing can often be elevated to higher heights. This is relevant for both players and coaches. But how? Here is why this phenomenon is relevant for both coaches and players and how they can use an understanding of the effect to further their craft.
It's seen less and less often today, but back in time warm-ups were hardly ever done with a ball and incorporated things like running laps and static stretching. Luckily, coaches of today have realized that warm-up activities can incorporate the ball, whether it be gradually or right away, and achieve the same outcomes of "warming-up". In fact, these activities not only get players moving and hypothetically help to decrease the risk of injury as a good warm-up should; but they also get players to practice their technical and tactical skills. This allows players to warm-up not just their muscles, but their brains as well. Here are 13 warm-up activities for young players, aged 6-14.
9v9 is one of the most exciting stages in the development of young players and can often be the first time they are truly able to understand positioning, formations and how to play to the strengths of their teammates. This audio podcast will be all about the Best Formations for 9v9, as modeled after our article Best Formations for 9v9.
Over the years of coaching youth soccer, I have seen entire curriculums made up of 1v1/2v2 and activities. Sometimes clubs focus solely on these topics throughout their curriculums, particularly with regards to younger players. For me personally, I love to be more possession-focused and most of my activities revolve around topics of how to get the most out of our attack and time on the ball. 1V1 and 2V2 activities can also be dangerous to implement as a lot of them involve far too much waiting in lines. That said, 1v1 defending and attacking is still an essential session topic to cover in any season, regardless of your coaching philosophy and approach. As the great football pundit and commentator Don Hutchinson once said - "People think it's a game of 11v11. It's not. It's a game of 1v1. Win your individual battles." So with that, here is a session all about both 1v1 attacking and 1v1 defending.
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 add restrictions to games. Restrictions like needing to complete three passes before the team can score or players being locked into different zones on the field can be valuable to teaching certain topics to young players. But restrictions need to be used wisely. Instead of restricting behaviours, coaches should look to encourage behaviours and do so more carefully through encouraging something to happen, rather than restricting it. In this article I will outline why restricted games should be more scarcely used, and why the term 'conditioned game' should possibly have a change of meaning to urge coaches to encourage the behaviours of their players in games without restricting their players.
The first touch that a player makes after receiving the ball is a highly underrated skill. The first touch can often make or break an attack and in some cases make a break a player's ability to score a goal. Here is a quick-fire guide to teaching young players how to take their first touch.