The FA Youth Award: Module Overview
“Soccer skill is learned action, formed out of a variety of minor specific actions, which can be produced and reproduced on demand when playing the game, with and against other players” Alan Wade
Module 1 of the FA Youth Award examines the learning environment the coach creates for the players and how, (if this environment is positive and has a focus on learning) the players will benefit as they will not be afraid to experiment, explore, practice and compete, in order to develop and enjoy playing football. It concentrates on developing the players holistically within four associated and interconnected domains; technical, physical, psychological and social, and how coaches should be aware of the impact of all four areas if they are to be effective and help players learn.
The course highlights how important the FUNDAMENTAL skills of balance, agility, co-ordination and speed are, particularly for those players Under 12, where the window of opportunity to develop and improve these skills is wide open. Module 1 also provides coaches with an introduction to activities and games, where decision-making and problem-solving are at the forefront of their practice and as a result creativity and skill development are enhanced as youngsters learn to deploy their skilfulness in more realistic situations.
Module 2 maintains the holistic theme established in module 1, but delves more deeply into understanding practice and what different types of practice actually produce as a learning return for the players involved. It’s an essential skill for the coach to know what the practice they design or use is really producing as a learning outcome for their players. The module also examines the impact of practice when age, ability, maturation and experience is taken into account and what effective practice may look like for a talented and gifted fourteen-year-old as opposed to a grassroots eight-year-old player.
The course also highlights the practice spectrum and how, (as practice moves along the spectrum from low to high), players experience less repetition and more tactical decision-making as the context to the game of football gets higher. The course also outlines how this is reflected in the players’ practice as it moves from constant drill-like activities, through more variable activities into more random game-like activities.
Module 3 brings together elements of modules 1 and 2 and demonstrates how the know-how and knowledge coaches have gained can now be applied into developing their players effectively.
Module 3 gives coaches the opportunity to listen to players talking about the coaching they’ve experienced. You’ll also hear senior coaches talking about the journey they’ve been on as they developed their coaching skills, and what excites and frustrates them about coaching.
Module 3 gives coaches the chance to enhance their own learning journey by working from match-play situations to design practices and games that encourages problem-solving, decision-making, skill-development and creativity; and then challenge the players appropriately to enhance their learning.
Module 3 will also give coaches the opportunity to plan and practice effective interventions, through an action-review-process that takes into account the needs of the players as individuals and as a group.
These interventions will include the coaches learning more about how to:
· Set the scene for the practice or game
· Set the appropriate challenges to support the players’ learning
· Demonstrate more effectively
· Ask and answer questions associated with their practice
· Manage the players’ successes and mistakes to the players’ advantage
· Re-enforce and remind players about key elements in their play
· Check players’ understanding
· Debrief and reflect successfully
· Set new challenges if necessary
Football is a unique and magical game providing players with almost limitless scope for creativity; where raw power combined with delicate artistry and sublime skills give it a forceful and compelling magnetism matched by no other game.
Learning to play football presents players with a wide array of challenges. Some are intense and physical, others more subtle and harder to pin down. The ability to master the ball during a football match, depends on a variety of factors. But there is a constant, and that is; the skills of the game have to be learned to be regularly applied in realistic situations.
Also, these skills must be applied in various circumstances and situations, in a match or practice, often while the young player is still learning how to manage them.
Genetics may have a bearing on how proficient an individual can become, but in the long term the devotion to quality practice can be equally significant in determining where a person may play out their football career. To do this over the long term, players must enjoy playing and learning in equal measure; the coach has a vital role to play in this process.
Learning should be a central pillar to teaching and coaching, and as such it is important that the coach empowers the players to enjoy the learning process; this will increase their intrinsic motivation, which in turn enhances their desire to learn.