Saturday, January 12, 2013

U4 - Active Start - A new Group

This morning I started with a new group of players (and parents) for a 10 week Active Start program.

Of the 18 players, 8 are returnees.  When we got the group together, I explained how the program worked to the parents and we were fortunate that each player had a parent partner right from the start.

Parents were all too happy to join the kids on the field.  It was awesome!  As long as they were given direction on what to do, they seemed more than comfortable being there with 18 young footballers running around.

Involving them is such a wonderful thing.   The most important bi-product is that they get to be with their children, have some fun and be encouraging every step of the way.  Their involvement also increases the probability of their child being involved in EVERY exercise and achieving some success, week after week.  Parents are also becoming more comfortable on the field, among children, and a few might come to the realization that they might want to stay involved as the children get older.

With their parents on the field, children feel safer; socially and as learners.  They are far less likely to run off scared as they might in a group of children.

Every week, I  enjoy the Active Start stage more and more.  It's different from other coaching experiences.  It's a true test of a coach's ability to engage the group as this age is easily distracted or scared.  Your coaching certifications gets lost in the shuffle and you depend on your ability to get right down to the player's level to earn their trust (with their parent's help, of course!).    Sir Alex Ferguson is more than welcome to come to our club to run a session, but if he's not willing to put himself "out there" for the children, they'll eat him alive.

I work with different ages all the time, but there is a very different feeling with this type of setup.  It's not just cones, balls and drills.  It's a lot of physical activity, laughing, high-fives, experimenting and love.  I love the way the kids are loving being close to their parents.  I love the way the parents want to be on the field and get involved.

The craziness that is sometimes equated to sports is completely absent.  And, by the end of the 10 weeks, they will all be more comfortable with the ball.

Now that we've started, my goal is to identify parents who would make decent Active Start coaches for the summer and draw them closer to what I doing, get them into the Active Start course and working with the children this summer.