"THE MOMENT YOU DOUBT WHETHER YOU CAN FLY, YOU CEASE FOREVER TO BE ABLE TO DO IT."
J.M. Barrie Peter Pan
As a child I loved football.
I would spend hour after endless hour kicking a football against a wall or dribbling and soloing up and down the roads or fields. In fact I was very rarely without a football. We had a big field beside our house and I would count how many kicks of the ball it took me to cross it. My record in those days was 6.
In my mind I was up there with the best football players in Ireland at the time.
This may seem like a simplistic view of life but life is simplistic for kids today just as it was then. Kids have not changed.
The majority of clubs will be welcoming their newest members over the next few months as football clubs and nurseries get going again in the spring. Children of all abilities will present to learn the skills of the game from their coach and probably a few parents who didn’t realise they would be coaching!!!
At this stage in a child’s footballing life they are a blank canvas full of enthusiasm and anxious to learn.
As adults, we need to work together to ensure their sporting experience is a positive one but also that we teach the skills the child will need to progress in the sport. Coaching is all about the child’s experience and how their perception is formed.
There have been a number of papers published on the importance of perceived competence in sport.
In his paper on physical activity in schools published in The European Journal of physical Education Stuart Fairclough notes that
“Children’s perceptions of their competence and enjoyment in P.E. are linked strongly with their attitude towards the subject. Perceived competence refers to one’s beliefs about his or her abilities in an achievement domain. These beliefs are formed by information gathered from the environment”
In simple terms we need to, as coaches and adults, keep our language and attitude positive as we control the environment from which these children gather their beliefs. We must resist the urge, particularly at Go Games blitzes, to focus on the result rather than the process. Coaches are competitive by nature and will always look to compete but at this introductory phase it’s all about skill development and fun for every child.
Get out there and tell them they can fly.