UEFA have recently announced a set of coaching tips aimed at grassroots football, ideal for those who are looking for a sense of direction when it comes to aiding the development of youngsters. Do your current training methods tie in with UEFA’s guidelines?
Just how coaches train children has long been a crucial question in football, with UEFA having recently made this one of their main priorities at a recent conference in Minsk. As a result, ten “golden rules” have been identified, which are believed to be hugely important in ensuring that kids enjoy and get the most out of football.
The ten rules are part of the iCoachKids project, which was established to ensure that youngsters have nothing but a positive experience, led by adequately trained coaches. Achieving this also means that they are more likely to stay involved in sport, as well as leading healthier lifestyles. The ten key points raised by UEFA are as follows:
Always have the best interests of children at heart and listen to them. It’s all about what children want and need. Take the adult glasses off - and see the sport through the eyes of the child.
Try to see and develop children in your sessions as people first and foremost, and not only as athletes. Challenge them to think, as well as to move.
Be prepared to cater for all levels of activities and motivations. Pay attention to every child, not only the better ones. Get to know the kids you coach, dare to coach them differently – and remove all barriers to participation.
Make It Fun and Safe
Children want to learn and have fun doing it, and they want to feel safe. Coaches must create caring and enjoyable climates – an atmosphere that allows children to thrive…and that keeps them coming back for more.
Prioritise the Love for Sport Above Learning Sport
Only a small proportion of kids want to be elite athletes, and of those who do, only a few succeed. Yet all of them have the potential to become healthy, active adults. Creating that fantastic legacy is part of a coach’s job.
Focus on foundational skills
During childhood, coaches shouldn’t worry too much about the sport’s specific skills. At a young age, kids need to gain essential motor skills, and learn the basics of how to play a game. This focus on fundamental skills leads to lifelong participation, as well as a higher level of performance.
Engage parents positively
Parents aren’t the enemy – they’re the biggest resource at a coach’s disposal. They want the best for their kids – and so does the coach. Partnership is the key word…talk to parents. It’s the coach’s responsibility to help them understand the best ways that they can help their children make the most out of sport.
Plan progressive programmes
A coach is taking children on a learning journey. Any plan needs to take into account their age and stage of development, and the best ways to help them make progress. Children aren’t mini-adults. Coaches have to make the game fit the kids – not the other way around!
Use different methods to enhance learning
There is not one single best way to coach. Different strategies are better suited for different stages of learning. The art of coaching is to know when a child needs to be exposed to one type of practice or another.
Use competition in a developmental way
Competition isn’t the devil! It all depends on how it is organised, presented and managed. When done properly, competitions are an amazing motivator – and a lot of fun. Competitions can also teach children good skills and attitudes such as fairness, sportsmanship, respect and teamwork. Make sure that the format, atmosphere and competitions are appropriate for the kids.