Train the Brain Not the Body

The Introduction of Organised Learning

Did you know that the introduction of ‘organised learning of the game’ AKA Coaching, was introduced in the early 1950’s in the UK, and even later in other parts of Europe.  With the introduction of organised learning the game became a subject to be taught and learned, naturally over the years the organised teaching evolved.  As more cars filled the roads slowly but surely the chaos learning that took place on the streets through games became less frequent.  Fast forward to 2018 where a vast majority of young footballers appear entirely reliant on training session organised for them (outside of the odd summers day when the whether forces them outdoors) and generally the likelihood of seeing many kids out on the street playing football is nowhere near what it once was in times gone by.  With that in mind why is organised training not being utilised in helping to replace the many lost hours of street practice.

Training The Body

There is no doubt about it that the advances in sport science have greatly improved the game overall down through the years.  Granted teaching the basic techniques of certain SAQ work, strength work and so on has it's advantages for young footballers, but with that said why is training sessions focusing on these things? surely training contact hours now of all era's is even more so vital to provide contact hours with the ball for kids, and not just contact hours with a ball, contact hours with a ball that challenge and develop kids in realistic environments.  

Seeing It With Your Own Eyes

A few weeks back I stumbled across an U12 team training in a local gym.  The team were lifting small sized kettle bells, weights, doing core work and all types of strength exercises.  It just so happens that I'm friends with one of the parents who's son plays for the side in question.  The parent informed me that the team trains twice a week, one of those nights dedicated solely to the gym.  Twelve years of age and half of the kids time at organised training is being used to train the body? surely that mind set and approach needs questioning.  

Questioning The Approach

On majority most kids now days appear to be reliant on organised sessions for their football training.  If clubs are not creating sessions where the ball and match realistic situations are allowing the players to develop and grow via challenge and guided discovery then I worry for the future in terms of developing technical intelligent footballers.  I question the focus and priority of coaches and clubs who devote so much time to SAQ and Strength training at such young ages, is it trophies or development that is their concern?  At the end of the day as was mentioned above teaching the techniques to young ages is very understandable as knowledge is acquired and learn't better at a young age, but to put the techniques of SAQ and Strength work into practice and give it preference over contact hours with the ball? why?.  Kids can work on SAQ or Strength work in their own time if needs be, they can't replace the quality that learning within opposed realistic game environments bring.  

Stop Talking and Start Being Creative

What the game needs at development level in this opinion is creative coaches who understand the importance of challenging environments that allow the game to educate within creative sessions designed to allow the players find the solutions.  Work the brain by challenging decision making realistic to the game.  Below are some example sessions with learning within the session.