County coaching course makes its mark

Dutch legend Johan Cruyff proved an inspiration
Dutch legend Johan Cruyff proved an inspiration
  • Join News sports writer Jordan Cross as he undertakes level-1 coaching football award
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It’s 3am and I’m awake thinking about how to best progress drills.

Yes, it’s fair to this Level 1 award in coaching football is getting into my head.

After a seven-hour practical stint on Sunday, my limbs have long since given up on me.

After a seven-hour practical stint on Sunday, my limbs have long since given up on me.

My mind is still willing, however, and a first day of practical coaching has well and truly made its mark.

Last week, I started working through the 30-plus hours needed to complete the qualification, hosted by Hampshire FA.

Two fascinating evenings in the classroom, focusing on player and coach development, made way for getting out on the green stuff at Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth on Sunday.

There, along with 17 other aspiring coaches of all ages and backgrounds, we began the process of working through the 14 games which are at the heart of the qualification.

Jan Noble was the coach keeping a close eye on proceedings, as those taking part led their drills in pairs.

The games are designed to extract the optimum from a relatively basic framework, with focus on specific areas like dribbling, control, combination play, passing and shooting.

After a warm-up, it was straight into drills with weird and wonderful names such as Robin Hood, Alamo and Diamonds are Forever.

Seeing these mapped out on paper was a little bamboozling to a footballer whose training back in the day constituted a run around a field, before smashing balls as hard as you could at an exposed keeper.

In practice, things proved smoother as our coaches went about their work with brightness and energy.

James Wilson was the man to get the short straw of working with me on our drill – traffic lights.

The Bosham skipper was part of the Portsmouth Schools under-15 side who famously won the English Schools’ title in 2004.

Pairing up with me was less memorable, but our game – based around players dribbling and responding to us raising different coloured cones with skills – went smoothly.

The key to these drills is to then place your own stamp on proceedings as they wear on. With Noble offering some constructive feedback, we did that with the introduction of a Cruyff turn among other changes.

Each drill is then analysed through the four-corner model central to the course, focusing on technical, psychological, physical and social elements.

A four-poster bed would have been preferable by Sunday night, as the aches set in after a decent day’s work.

Thankfully, this week saw a return to the classroom for our FA emergency aid course and safeguarding children workshop.

They proved nearly as animated as the practical elements, however, with massively-experienced pair Wayne Foster and ex-pro physio Jim Joyce qualifying us as first-aiders.

Royal Navy football development administrator, Nicky Giles, then offered some thought-provoking insight on how coaches should work and protect children under 18, sparking a lively debate.

What’s best practice? Is ruffling a child’s hair okay? And all the while remembering your duty of care.

Now comes the final assessment for those who have put in the graft so far.

None have fallen by the wayside yet. More of the same commitment for the grass-roots game shown to date should keep it that way.