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Mastering Outdoor Coaching in Winter: 10 Tips for Engaging Young Players by Endur Sport
Winter coaching poses its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to engaging young players in adverse weather conditions. As we gear up for the coming months, FA regional coach development manager, Martin Dighton, shares invaluable insights and ten top tips for coaches to ensure a successful and engaging coaching experience outdoors.
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1) Understanding the Unique Nature of Young Players
Young children are not miniature versions of adults. Acknowledging this fundamental fact is crucial. Coaches must prioritize the well-being of each child in their care, recognizing the need for tailored coaching methods that keep young players engaged, regardless of the weather.
2) Active Warm-ups: Combatting the Cold
Getting players moving as soon as they arrive is essential, especially in poor weather conditions. Youngsters can quickly become cold without realising it, making it challenging to warm up later. Incorporating arrival activities like tag games or small 1v1s ensures that players are warm and engaged right from the start.
3) Eliminate Queues: Keep Everyone Involved
Queues are a big no-no, especially on cold, wet days. Coaches should find creative ways to involve all players throughout the session. Consider setting up multiple smaller areas to minimize waiting times and maximize participation.
4) Injecting Fun with Games
Utilise game-based approaches during training. Understand what young players expect – a chance to play a match. Wet and cold sessions are perfect for small-sided games, ensuring active participation and allowing for strategic coaching interventions
5) Concise Communication: Focus on Individuals
On damp days, children prefer concise coaching. Coaches should focus on individual feedback during gameplay. Quick challenges, brief interventions, and limiting coaching time to 30 seconds enhance player appreciation and engagement.
6) Strategic Session Design and Progression
Thoughtful session planning is key. Coaches must consider various formats and progressions to maximize playing time and excitement. Maintaining a scoring system and ensuring continuous player activity elevate the overall engagement.
7) Fallback to Matches in Doubt
When in doubt or facing unexpected weather challenges, revert to smaller matches. This promotes ball contacts, possession play, transition, and game craft. Small-sided matches keep players close to the action, ensuring sustained engagement.
8) Enforce Kit Rules: Weather-Appropriate Attire
Establish rules regarding kit choices, emphasising the importance of appropriate attire. Encourage layering for warmth, drawing inspiration from cricketers who opt for thin layers even in extreme weather. Consider implementing a club wet-weather policy for consistency.
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9) Safety First, But Individual Differences Matter
While safety and welfare remain paramount, coaches must understand the uniqueness of each child. A grassroots approach, allowing the group to decide whether to play, fosters a positive environment. Every child reacts differently to adverse weather; coaches should aim to create lasting positive memories.
10) CREATING EVERLASTING MEMORIES IN CHALLENGING CONDITIONS
Embrace the weather to build lasting memories for players. Coach Dighton reflects on his own fond experiences playing in terrible weather, emphasizing the potential for positive recollections. Implementing the tips above lays a solid foundation for creating unforgettable moments for young players.
In the face of challenging weather, coaching young players outdoors requires adaptability and creativity. By understanding the distinct needs of children, incorporating active warm-ups, and maintaining continuous engagement, coaches can ensure a positive and memorable experience for their players.