Robbo’s Column: Karl’s youth football coaching tips

Oxford boss Karl Robinson says repetition is the key to coaching children.

The World Cup may have finished but there is no let-up in the football action as the new 2018/19 season is upon us.

Youth coaches across Milton Keynes will be busy thinking of ways to improve their young players so I thought it might be helpful to share some coaching tips with you.

A lot of youth coaches don’t truly understand how important their role is – if you are teaching a team of kids aged between 5 and 8, what you teach them now will stay with them forever. That’s why it’s important they are taught the correct habits now.

Some of the most wellpaid youth football coaches abroad coach players aged between 5 and 8, because it’s the time that young players learn their neurological and muscular patterns.

You need to teach the kids the exact technique, then they will soon be able to do it when they are really concentrating, then eventually the skill just becomes second nature to them.

It’s a bit like juggling – if you keep practising you will eventually be able to do it while holding a conversation.

Liverpool youth coach Steve Heighway (pictured above, right) gave me a great analogy that has always stuck with me.

He compared being a football coach to my dad’s job as an electrician. The first thing my dad does every morning is load his tools in the van. Then he gets to a job, sees what it involves, and picks the tool to do that job.

Steve told me to think the same about football – our job is to fill the toolbox up then the player’s job is to pick the right tool for each moment. But the player can’t pick the right tool if we haven’t given them the right tools in the first place.

So teach the players how to pass, receive, turn, dribble and shoot. And don’t be frightened of replicating the same drill, as repetition is the mother of all skill.

Planning for your sessions.

  • The 5 key skills you need to coach are passing, receiving, turning, dribbling and shooting.
  • Pick a theme and do it for 5 successive sessions – the activities can vary but repetition is the key to learning a new skill.
  • You could choose 2 themes for each 1-hour session if you prefer. For example, you could do 15 minutes dribbling, 15 minutes passing, then a 30 minute game.
  • Make sure no players are stood around for too long in a queue of 5 or 6, or waiting for a ball in a square with 20 players.
  • Try to ensure that each player gets at least 500 touches of the ball in every session.

This column was published in the August 2018 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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