Thoughts From The Coach
George Tully:"Martin Tully (George's dad) had informed me before the session began that he had watched his boy play on the previous weekend for the Colts and felt that George was doing some things really well. While at other times he struggled to cope physically and keep a hold of the ball." Now, although these aspects of George's development as a football player will come with age, he can be encouraged to work on his current weaknesses in the mean time (while he grows up). After all, he is still only 7.
George was in a bit of a silly mood going in to the session, but it was my objective to put across one or two coaching points to him to illustrate how he could improve on his current weaknesses. I'd watched a video a while ago of a coach conveying the importance of having a good/positive attitude in football. So in the warm up, I got
George thinking about how his first touch would be. If he has a positive attitude and thinks he will have a good touch - it is more likely he will than not. The same can be applied to any player playing at any level in the game. If players mess about and trundle across the pitch before kick-off is it not more likely they will perform the same in the match? While the side who 'gear themselves up' and perform a warm up with a 'good' attitude will surely be much more likely to prevail in a game where the team faces a side of equal ability and similar physical attributes.
As his Dad conveyed when George faces his peers on the Saturday, he sometimes loses the ball or gets tackled as he attempt to let the ball run across him. So I looked at developing his sharpness by getting him to side skip through 5 red cones, then control a firmly passed ball and pass back to my feet before jogging back. This worked on concentration, fitness, agility and ball control - all necessary attributes for keeping hold of possession in the game. I then asked George to vary his play by sometimes choosing to pass straight back, sometimes even first touch, and occasionally doing a turn and dribbling away with the ball. But always with a quick look over his shoulder first! I also decided to work on his decision making by setting up a big square with different coloured cones on each side. Red (for Liverpool), Yellow (for Norwich), Blue (for Chelsea) and White (for, of course, West Brom). In this game,
George started off in the centre on his toes ready for the ball. I would pass it in to him and shout out a stadium name just before passing. He would check his mirrors, look over his shoulder, receive the ball with body side-ways, to turn quicker and accelerate away with the ball before trapping it on the appropriate line. He did this with ease. I then made it harder by progressing it with a shout 'defender!' where here he would change his body position slightly to protect the ball (using strong arms) take a touch and pass it back. I then finished off this game by applying a little bit of pressure after I shouted 'defender' again and he would have to sprint away with the ball, before the tackle could be made.
His technique is good, but I will continue to work on this with different drills; he can now quite easily keep the ball up 3 times! And therefore won a prize: a Dennis Bergkamp figure. Not a bad choice :) If anyone has any extra suggestion for working on ball control and decision making please feel free to add your comments to this page.