Grassroots Football 101-Small Groups

If you have undergone ‘football coaching’ in Mumbai during the nineties or even earlier, you may have had about 20 or more kids alongside you simultaneously sweating it out. Barring a few selected places, the coaching sessions were executed haphazardly let alone the session being planned and drafted in advance.

What you essentially got was 20 + kids warming up with huge laps of the ground followed by some fitness and conditioning exercises culminating in 15-a-side matches scrambling for one brown and battered football. If this does not bring a flashback and a chuckle, you have been spared from what was truthfully a horror show that caused one to fall out of love with the beautiful game. Fast forward to present day, there are still some ‘coaches’ who stick by this age old tradition by packing the field with kids.

The ideal way to go about the coaching process at the grassroots is to segregate the kids into small batches depending on their footballing age and technical level. The nature of drills and the intensity varies from a formative to a developmental to a youth batch. Of course, planning a training session merits a whole separate blog but if you stuff a whole lot of children onto a micro field and expect them to develop, you are mistaken!

The major advantage that children get when they train in small groups is more touches of the football. This is so vital and crucial, just like the foundation of mathematics. At grassroots, technique training is the number one aspect that coaches need to pay attention to and with more touches of the football in a session, the child develops those technical skill sets needed for a footballer.

Just imagine, with 30 kids running around like headless chickens there could be times when a child may not even touch the football and that situation is honestly detrimental. The whole philosophy of Small Sided Games (SSG) just goes down the drain. Moreover, in large groups; if children do not get time on the ball, they will develop an innate fear and a lack of decision making capabilities when they do get the ball at their feet. These are the major reasons why India has not been able to develop technically sound players in the past.

At least now, with active grassroots programs across the country, it is our duty to learn and relay the correct and standardised coaching methodology that are prevalent across successful football nations across the globe. The success of a nation always lies in the grassroots and this topic too deserves its separate blog!

So if you are an academy, a coach, a club or a parent; ensure that the students get maximum touches of the ball in a session. Allow the children maximum time on the ball so that they start developing a kind of bond that they share with their favourite toy or practically speaking their favourite electronic gadget. They will automatically start learning and playing better because football is the most beautiful game on this planet.

They say in the fine dine and gourmet food industry- Small is Large,and, it applies to football at the grassroots as well. Let’s football the right way! #Forzaindia

Categories: Blog