Session Start Structure
This is an example of how a development session should be structured to include skills squares and how you can set up your next activity right next door very easily so that there are no breakages in the session helping you to make sure you’re session free flows and looks professional.
Skill Squares are a very important part of my sessions as this is where you can install a self-discipline in the players without being an authoritarian coach. Very often when i have turned up to sessions i have seen children running all over the field, dishevelled coaches struggling to keep control and keep sight on children because of a cultural belief that kids will be kids WRONG ! .Coaches are not babysitters and the same respect should be given to you as the child gives to their school teachers and this should be installed immediately and any coach that has kids running all over the field is either unprofessional or lazy and not a coach that parents should entrust their child too.
Skill Squares are set up next to each other and can be any size although smaller the better, explain when the first session of the season starts that at the beginning of every session their bags and water bottles are to be placed in the water/bag grid just outside of the main grid and they must run straight to you , make it into a game and give points to whoever gets to you the fastest and in their skill square.When they get to you they will take a football and make their way to a skill square where they practice any skill which has been taught that week.After a few weeks you can add different skills for different corners of their own personal squares and why stop there ? bring in bounce juggles moving into a skill and then moving into different touches on the ball.
Why are Skill Squares a good idea ? Skill squares a good idea because in every session that a coach delivers, the participants will never turn up for the session at the same time. which means their arrival will be staggered and the worst thing you could have is a situation where children are not in sight and safely controlled.This gives them a challenge and a platform to show off they’re newly learned skills and with each child having they’re own square it gives them some personal and self-discipline, they will want to show you they’re square, they will want to show you the new skills they are learning.Another benefit to this is the fact that the Parents love it also as they like the idea of their children having that self obedience and can trust a coach to control the session and that it shows an attention to detail in developing they’re children especially when they look on the other side of the field and find 15 children climbing trees and a coach stood there chatting on his/her phone, they will quickly realise the difference in quality.Another benefit of the squares is the different time based allocation moments of the session,for example, when there are times when you do need 60 seconds as a coach to set something up quickly all it takes is a quick shout “TO YOU’RE SQUARES, 20 DRAG BACKS FIRST TO FINISH GETS 50 POINTS” you will find that by the time you have finished setting up they are sprinting at you to claim they’re points.
You will notice as you go through my development sessions from the U8 Academy to the team training they will always start with the skill squares or the kick up areas, and will always try to change it up a little especially after a few weeks and the children have a few skills in their armoury.I generally try to teach the same amount of skills to the amount of children in the group so if there are 12 such as in this example at the top of the page I will teach 12 skills and each skill square will represent a different skill for the participants to memorize. Each player will take a minute or more in each square and then changing to the next until eventually they have a skill dance in their heads mentally prepared to show their parents and to show them off to their friends.
The Water Bottle/Bag coned area is there simply to keep the groups items together so they don’t leave them all over the field as I’m sure all coaches have found that if the children have brothers or sisters or cousins training on the same field they tend to leave things at that side of the field and then run 100 metres away to get their water.Make sure this doesn’t happen and they keep they’re stuff together in the groups water coned area.