The coaching continues

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

Day Seven – the first continuation day

Two months have passed since our group were last together. The day before Easter Sunday we all had our chance to deliver the game-related element of a specific topic – mine was ‘Pressing’, and as I came away from Ipswich that afternoon, I was anxious to get some coaching hours under my belt.

Unfortunately, the fixture calendar at my club meant that any training sessions became matches as we caught up to finish off the season, so I was not able to coach my team at all in the previous eight weeks.

It was nice, therefore, to join the other candidates in Ipswich, this time at the Greshams Sports Club, for the first of two continuation days.

Although I’d kept in contact with some of the lads on Facebook and Twitter, the way we all tend to manage our social relationships these days, I was pleased to be able to spend the day with them all again in person and get back into ‘the zone’ with people as passionate and as keen on their development as I am.

Not only had the venue changed – we were at Suffolk One college for the first six days – but also our tutor had following Keith Webb’s move to Canada to take up a position as Head Coach of Winnipeg Phoenix. Welcoming us all today was Rob Munro, or ‘Scouse’ as everyone knows him on account of him coming from, er, Liverpool.

A different character completely to Keith, Scouse is a former member of the armed forces and was quick to lay down one of his main ground rules – time-keeping. He says he lives by his watch and told us that we must be on time when we coach and when we do our assessments, which is quite right. Players and parents will be relying on us to keep time when we running sessions. 

Chi-Chi, our friend from Norway who was notoriously late for everything in April, arrived just after Scouse’s address. Hopefully he’ll get his watch fixed to BST before we have our assessment in September.

The point of this continuation day, and the next one we have in July, was to go through our Coaching Learner Pack to ensure we were up to date with the tasks inside and get them signed off. We were also given our final assessment topics for September, which will allow us to prepare and give us the best chance of passing the course.

My topic is ‘Finishing’, which is quite good for me as I have played as a forward since I joined my first team as a seven-year-old. Whether it’s a benefit or not, who knows, but it’s certainly a topic I’m interested in.

I can now make sure that when I put on one of my 12 planned sessions, which are mandatory for the qualification, back at my club I can have a run through of the Finishing session I will deliver in September.

As much as today was a chance to go through some of the theory side of the course, it also acted as a forum for us all to swap ideas and help eachother with problems or issues we might be having. It gave people confidence too, if they were behind on their coaching hours, seeing that they weren’t the only ones.

And although it was a perfect day to spend indoors, with the rain and high winds that had forced the nearby Suffolk Show to be cancelled, we did go outside for a couple of hours to go through some practical sessions. These were delivered by the candidates in groups of three; one taking the ‘Technique’, one the ‘Skill’ and one the ‘Game-Related’ aspect of the given topic.

There were due to be five different topics covered, and my trio had the second choice, ‘Switching Play’, after I answered correctly Scouse’s question: “Who was the first player to score a Premier League goal live on TV?” (if you know the answer, tweet me @jamiebradbury and I’ll send the first three each a copy of the 2012 FA Cup Final match programme).

The weather beat us, too, though as we only managed to get in the sessions on ‘Turning’, ‘Defending When Organised’ and ‘Long Passing’ before we were swept by the wind and the rain back into the safety of the Greshams club.

But we were then able to consider some of the points that came out of the sessions that were delivered. My main observation was that, although the Technique aspect may be considered the easiest part when delivering a session, it is actually vitally important for the coach to get out the main coaching points which will be worked on through the Skill and Game-Related sections.

So, for example, when coaching Turning, make the drill as simple as you like and coach three different turns, such as back-foot turn, no-touch turn and turning with the outside of the foot. Then give all the players a chance to practice each before moving onto the next. When you feel that the players have all grasped what you are trying to coach, you then move on to the Skill.

It makes it so much easier when you know what you are meant to be coaching and the players know what they are supposed to be doing.

Before the day was wrapped up, we had another chat about things that were troubling us, whether that’s the coaching side or the more administrative tasks. There was still time for me to arrange a couple of pre-season friendlies for my club with teams coached by fellow learners Jamie and Geoff, and also get another tip off Kev, the ex-Jockey, who provided me with a winner last time.

Sadly, this one didn’t even place at Newmarket, but that doesn’t matter – the only success I’m looking for from this experience is my Level Two Certificate. And I now know what I’ve got to do to get it…

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

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.