Pressing matters

I have embarked on the Level Two Certificate in Coaching Football with FA Learning and Suffolk FA this week, and throughout his time on the course will be sharing his experiences and hopefully encourage others to take their next steps into coaching…

Day Six – 7 April 2012

The last day of the main body of the course was our opportunity to practice the game-related section of the final assessment. Though we won’t be covering the same topics when we come under the scrutiny of the assessor in September, Saturday gave us the chance to understand the structure and experience delivering the game-related aspect.

Essentially, the final assessment is made up of three portions; the technique – coaching the topic unopposed, the skill – introducing an opponent and decision-making element, and the game-related section – coaching one team in a 4v4 game, correcting faults when the elements focused on in the topic aren’t being achieved.

My topic was ‘Pressing’ and I was the sixth man up, so was lucky not to get the players in a too weary state (though six days of virtually non-stop training was taking its toll on even the most youthful of legs). During the 15 minutes, after giving the two teams a chance to have a play without being stopped, the majority of my focus was on ensuring my chosen team (we must only coach one) was following the basic defensive principles; denying, restricting and predicting space.

I looked at the front two players first, as I wanted them to work across to stop the player on the ball from knocking a forward pass, so I asked the man nearest the ball to close, or press, to prevent it being passed down the line. Then the second front man would drop into the middle, just behind the first man to block the path into the other opposing forward.

It would mean that the only option is back across to the other defender. If the forwards are on their toes, they can then switch responsibilities; the cover man closing down with the other forward dropping around. If, as is inevitable, the ball did eventually find its way to the opposing attackers, my focus was then on them.

The defender nearest the ball gets in touch-tight, stopping the forward from turning, as the second defender pulls around as cover, with one eye – and body shape – on the other front man. I could go on, but that might have been my problem. After the 15 minutes were up, I went to one side with Keith, our tutor who is soon to be taking a job in Canada, and he ran through his evaluation points. I wasn’t marked as positively as I was for the last session on Thursday, with one of the big action points being that I talk too much! I’ve heard that before.

But while it wasn’t as good as I hoped, it has given me some things to think about over the next few months ahead of the final assessment. I’d rather be marked harshly now to ensure that I pick up on any weak areas and get it right. We’ve got our follow on days in June and July to nail any areas we’re worried about, and we also have the task of putting on 12 fully-planned sessions at our own clubs, which will give us chance to hone our skills.

Some of the sessions from the others were really good. Everyone was enthusiastic, but two or three of them really stood out for me and it was pleasing to see them do that well. The camaraderie has grown among the group throughout the week and we were all willing each other on. So, after turning up to Suffolk One on Monday where I joined a group of 18 strangers, we left today exchanging numbers, email addresses and twitter names to ensure that we stay in touch before we meet up again in June.

And that’s the thing, we may all have varying talents on and off the pitch, but we all want to become Level Two Coaches and we each want one another to succeed in our final assessment. I’ve certainly made some new friends this week and after six days together it will be strange not meeting up with them tomorrow. What to do, what to do???

Level Two Diary
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

If you are keen to get into coaching, whether that’s at Level Two, or any other of the courses on offer, click here to find out about local courses or here for the national course information. There is also a host of online courses available via The FA Learing website.