Sunday, July 14, 2013

Delivering a U4 Active Start soccer session - anybody can do it.

This just might be my most important and influential soccer work at the moment.  Spreading the good word about Active Start makes people more comfortable with their entry into the soccer world and eases their initiation into the coaching world.

When the CSA developed the Active Start session guidelines, I thought it was brilliant.

The format is quite simple.  Every child has a parent as a partner.  There is one ball per child.  You lead them through exercises and movements for roughly 45 minutes.  Lots of high fives and cheering.  Lots of drink breaks, smiles, laughing etc and you go home happy.

Some coaches aren't buying the format.  Some say it's not soccer.  HEY.  It's U4, it was NEVER soccer.  EVER.

I watch some groups try and play 4v4.  10 kids per team.  One kid has the ball.  7 are watching.  9 are sitting on
parents' laps.   And people are expecting a "game".

Before I sound too critical, I would have never imagined doing a U4 Active Start session until it was demonstrated to me at the OSA's  Larning Facilitator's Workshop.  After that I was teaching the Active Start course and delivering sessions at our club.  It's the most fun I've had in soccer for a while.  This is why I tell people to check it out and they will discover how easy it is to deliver.

"It's not a U4 soccer practice.  It's parent/child
activity time, with soccer balls."

The Active Start session completely eliminates adult values and the adult interpretation of soccer.   It is the world's best example of age-appropriate programming.  It's completely player-centred and content driven.  Like I said earlier, it's brilliant.

Even the final games are 1v1 against the parent.

  • All children are active the entire time with their favourite person, their parent.
  • All children are more comfortable with their parent so they will do the exercises.
  • You are helping your community organization help strengthen the bond between parent and child.
  • You are building a closer bond between parent and the child's activity.
  • You are demonstrating something to parents that might cause them to think "Hey, I can be a coach".
  • During the games, all children WILL check their parent, WILL try to beat their parent, WILL attempt to score and WILL defend their net.  If, that is, if they can remember who is defending which net.  :)
I've heard people say "you're teaching them to be weenies" because their parents are on the field.  My answer is simple.  "THEY ARE 4 YEARS OLD and we want them to enjoy their first year out".  Thank you very much.

The content of the Active Start U4 session leaves everybody smiling. And parents sweating from being active.

Your instructions:
  1. Explore the format
  2. Witness the format
  3. Learn the format
  4. Adjust the format to your personality
  5. Go coach a U4 team
Some past postings about U4 sessions.