The FA Licensed Coaches Club recently released 6 new online CPD courses, to support coaches who are qualified to either level 1 or level 2. These courses take around one hour each to complete, and consist of watching coaching videos and then answering questions and they count as 1 hour towards your CPD quota.
I have just completed the possession course, aimed at 5-11’s and run by Pete Sturgess. The most interesting idea that I took out of the session on possession was the idea that players have to be completely comfortable with the ball at their feet before they can start to play with their head up. It makes a lot of sense, and I have probably been guilty in the pass of encouraging players to keep their head up before they are comfortable with their head down. I will definitely appraise my thinking on this very important topic as a result, and will probably encourage a head up approach far less for the under 7’s I coach.
The three video sessions showed Pete at St George’s Park, surrounded by coaches and with a team of boys to instruct. The games helped players practice keeping possession of the ball individually rather than passing when put under pressure. I had only just written a blog post about how England internationals seem to be far less comfortable on the ball when put under pressure than their Spanish or Brazilian counterparts, so the timing was interesting. I had long thought that coaching in England had produced a crop of players uncomfortable when pressed on the ball, so it was interesting to see how we can help players become comfortable keeping the ball at an early age.
The first game took place inside the centre circle of an 11-a-side pitch. There were around 6 boys inside the circle with a ball, and 6 boys outside the circle without a ball. When the coach said play, the boys outside the circle went into the circle and tried to win a ball, while the boys in possession had to try and keep possession for as long as possible. It encouraged the players in possession to be creative in the ways that they can keep the ball away from an opponent without trying to carry out a specific shielding technique, and it is always great when you can give players the empowerment to improvise. To solve problems. Just keep the ball is the instruction. I think I would add coaching points when needed to show how to shield the ball, but I really liked the session and can see great value in it.
What are your thoughts about keeping possession under pressure, and how to best coach that to young players? Do you have a view on how coaching hasn’t prepared the current crop of England internationals to be more