Coaching Focus: Bridging the Gap between Grass Roots and Academies

Coaching Focus: Bridging the Gap between Grass Roots and Academies

The journey of every professional footballer begins with a child kicking a ball. Whether it is kicked against a wall, down a street, in a back yard or on a playing field, that first moment when the foot strikes the ball is where it all begins. And like the first drops of water that can build enough momentum to form a mighty river, the first few kicks of a football can initiate a chain of events that can lead to something far greater.

For the players that make it to the very top, the journey to the summit can be very different. Some will get spotted at an early age and join the academy of a top club, where their career path will be clearly mapped out; while others may have to rely on local clubs and coaches to guide them through the network of grass roots football.

Whatever the case, gaining exposure to the right kind of coaching at the right time can be crucial in determining the future of young players. Of course, we all know that the chances of making it are already slim. Only a very small percentage of players will make it to professional level and with children developing at different speeds, some youngsters with the greatest potential are often overlooked and deprived of the training and support that they need.

A player that has the talent to excel at school level, might not be ready or developed enough to step up to club academy level. In many cases, these players might just need additional coaching to bring them up to standard but there is also a danger that rejection at this stage could deter them from pursuing their dream.

Fortunately, there are many coaching schemes that operate in the space between grass roots and club academy level.

One such organisation is Josh Evans Soccer School.

Josh Evans Soccer School

Josh Evans worked in Academy football for 7 years, first at AFC Wimbledon from 2010-14 and then at Crystal Palace from 2014-2016. Since 2013, Josh has been providing quality football coaching services for boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 14. From mini-colts training and nursery soccer through to holiday soccer camps and an elite Academy, Josh and his team provide training and support for players of all abilities within the age range. Their specific aim is to bridge the gap between grass roots football and top academy level.

Here Josh explains the organisation in greater detail:

“Our target development age is reception to year 9 (4-14 years old). We run PE lessons during the day and after-school clubs between 3.30-4.45pm.  In the evening, we have two development centres (Epsom and Leatherhead) and one elite academy on a Friday night.”

“The Friday night academy is invitational. So far, 12 of our players have signed to team academies over the last 5 years. As well as grass roots players, we also have numerous already-signed players who attend the Friday night sessions for extra coaching with the commitment of their academy.”

“During the holidays, we run the biggest soccer school in Surrey. Our soccer schools are held during half-term and school holidays. We have over 120 children participating at each camp.”

Josh had the following advice for young players:

“The most important things is how you deal with setbacks – when someone says you aren’t good enough. Some may crumble and give up, but the best players bounce back and have the right mix of self-belief and confidence without being arrogant.”

In the following clip, we see a young player preparing for his U12 South Wales camp. The exercise teaches high-tempo shooting using fast feet to receive, set and finish. Good work!

Here is another clip in which the coach encourages quick decision making by calling out which colour to move to and the number of touches!

You can follow Josh Evans Soccer School on Twitter here: @JEsoccerschool

ACB Football Coaching

Another organisation that provides high quality football coaching in the form of school clubs, private sessions and football parties in the Sussex and Surrey area is ACB Football Coaching.

The Head Coach and creator of ACB Football Coaching is Aaron Conniff-Broome. Aaron is already qualified to FA Coaching level 2 and FA Youth Module 2 and is currently working towards his UEFA B and Youth Module 3 qualifications. He also works as manager of the Sussex University Ladies team.

We asked Aaron to explain the philosophy behind his project.

“Our philosophy when developing and coaching young players is to keep everything related to a match situation where possible. That way, players will learn to improve their decision-making skills, as well as developing an understanding of how to react in a variety of match scenarios. When a young player really understands why they are learning something, and can do more for themselves, they start to feel more confident and really enjoy their football.”

And what does the future hold for ACB Coaching? Aaron explained:

“Our ultimate aim is to one day expand our services throughout England – and possibly even further afield. This will help us to develop young players across the nation by coaching the game in what we believe is the best way. “

Aaron provided the following words of wisdom for aspiring young players:

“Always have the best attitude on and off the pitch. When you play football, you have got to be prepared to work 110% in order to succeed, but if at first you don’t succeed, then you try and try again. Off the pitch, you need to make sure you work hard at school or college, and be the best person that you can be to those around you. No one likes a bad attitude, but anyone will support you if you show a lot of respect and try your hardest at anything.”

In this following session from ACB Coaching, the focus is on ‘Improving Awareness‘ through a couple of fun exercises that encourage the following behaviours:

  • Check your shoulder
  • Be one step ahead in your mind
  • Finding Space

And here, a quick-fire shooting drill is used to help improve the shooting skills of these young players.

You can follow ACB Football Coaching on Twitter here: @ACB_FootyCoach

These are just two examples of the many coaches and organisations who work tirelessly every day to improve the quality of soccer coaching available to children of all ages.

As well as boosting the skill levels of young players, they also help to build their confidence and encourage their personal development through values such as teamwork, communication and fair play.

The Ertheo commitment

Here at Ertheo, we are committed to improving the lives of children all over the world through our collaboration with top sports and learning institutions.

Of course, we want to be involved in developing the sports stars of the future, but we also take great pleasure in helping children to grow on a personal level.

That’s why we believe that a sports camp can be of great benefit to all children, even those that may not be pursuing a career in professional sports.

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For more details about any of our sports camps in 2017, please visit our website or call us on (+34) 952 222 998

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