Wednesday, February 6, 2013

District U12 Boys session - Physically Literate?

On Saturday morning I was a guest coach with the Niagara District Boys program.

I coached our district team for four years before handing it over to Vince Stranges, who is now in his fourth year with the program.

The session had 28 boys in attendance and we had half of a full pitch at the Youngs Sportsplex in Welland.

I have never worked with these boys so I kept the session basic and experimented with physical literacy sequences.

I started with a warm-up that worked all parts of their body and pushed the levels of their athleticism.  I have to say that it still shocks me how many young athletes (not specifically in this group) still have trouble catching and throwing with success.  Most of this group was OK.

A lot of them had problems with a part of the warm-up where they needed to jump and, while in the air, catch and throw the ball back to their partner.  If you're a basketball player, it's called an "ally-oop".

If you think catching and throwing is not important to a soccer player, I disagree!  With an exclamation point.  To me, it's an of their overall athleticism.

I'm not saying these boys are not good athletes, because they are all successful in their sports.  But I am saying that there are still athletes, regardless of sport, who do not have the full package of movements and muscle control.

More exposure to the movements and free play will bring this out.

At U12, their bodies are changing rapidly and working on movements and co-ordination is very important.  We want them to emerge from their growth spurt with all of their abilities, plus a little extra.

Their raw soccer skills were very decent but you could see there were components to their athleticism that needed work.  

I then followed the warm-up with drills that involved a LOT of turning and passing.  A LOT.  Their footwork was OK, but a few need to keep working on it to be more graceful and balanced in the turn.  If you're not balanced then you can't make the next move to shake off your opponent.  That will come with practice and time.

The games during the session were entertaining and competitive. We just gave gentle reminders on when to apply turns and other little ideas but , for the most part, we let them play.

This bunch was fun to coach.  It was 8am Saturday morning and they were ready to go and full of energy.  As a guest, coach there is some extra energy by both sides because everybody wants the other to be happy they came.

I wish I had let them play longer but the time used during the warm-up got away from me.  They did work hard for the entire session and I am confident they got something out of it.

Leaving this group and thinking about past district groups, this is probably the fastest group I've seen in years and a lot of them have very good technique.  I  look forward to see how they stack up against the boys from the other 2 districts within our region.