How To Obtain Your FA Coaching Badge

FA Coaching BadgeWhether you are a parent, a player or someone who is involved in football coaching already on an informal basis, taking a course to obtain your FA coaching badge is among the best steps you can possibly do to help make a contribution to the club that your child belongs to.

The grassroots game has a big need for coaches who have been formally qualified. The FA in recent years has invested a significant amount of expertise, money and time in order to extend and improve the quality of coaching training that is available at every level of the game. There are literally hundreds of local courses that are reasonably priced all across the UK, so there hasn’t ever been a better time for getting into coaching than right now.

There are currently an incredible 47 FA coaching qualifications that are available that are part of FA Coaching Pathway. They include the core qualifications, beginning at Level 1, along with youth qualifications as well as specialist options, including the junior football organisers’ course and futsal coaching.

Out all of the vast array of choices that are available, the most popular course by far is Level 1, or 1st4Sport Level 1 Award in Coaching Football. Just about every coach gets started with this course. It is open entry, which means you do not have to have any prior experience in order to take the course. So it’s a great starting point for anybody wanting to get into coaching.

Level 2, or the 1st4Sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football, is the second most popular course. It is open entry as well, however it is expected and also advised that you take Level 1, unless you happen to have a great deal of previous playing or coaching experience.

Over the past 10 years a slow, yet significant, change has taken place in the coaching style that the FA has promoted, especially towards younger players. There is also a great emphasis on understanding now, as well as accepting and making use of the psychology of football in order to help players develop. In the past there was a large bias on the game’s physical side. However, it is balanced now with other factors as well as integrated into the FA 4 Corner player development model.

It covers the physical, social, psychological and technical issues that need to be considered as the young players develop and mature. The basic idea behind this is that each player develops at his own place in various aspect as he is progressing through football. A one size fits all type of coaching philosophy will not be as productive as when every player’s individual and changing needs are considered.

If you have concerns that it may take too much away from the pitch, don’t worry. The opposite is in fact true. The 4 Corner Models works to help players reach their individual needs by getting them involved more directly in the coaching sessions. They are encouraged to adapt, challenge and explore new skills and techniques in an interactive way. That builds confidence in the younger players and helps them stay engaged, while the older ones are able to get whatever they need from these coaching sessions as they are developing.

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The Need For Improved Coaching In Grassroots Football

It is a pity to see the waste of time and lack of preparation when it comes to grassroots coaching. The limited time available in coaching the players is thus wasted with so little planning and structuring of each session. Having been in grassroots coaching for many years, this is really shocking to me.

The problem is not really the lack of awareness in using the limited time available to coach the players. In my opinion, the problem arises when one tries to build one’s reputation and feel good about himself. This should not be the case when it comes to grassroots coaching. Instead, it should be purely about the long-term development of the players.

Grassroots football is overwhelming with ego-driven parents, who are currently at the ripe stage of youth development. They need the best coaching right now. But most managers and coaches are driven purely by the fact of how many games or trophies they win, which will satisfy their ego and make them a success.

Today’s junior team managers and coaches are more interested in building an empire by hiring the best players to join their team instead of coaching the talent within each individual player in their team. In fact, every player has the potential of becoming great with the right type of coaching. This denies the chance of playing for most of the individuals who are deemed inadequate by the coach. But these players actually need time to grow and mature into a “great player” some day.

It is these same individuals who are at the forefront of shaping the future of English football. These coaches actually hinder and place limitations on how a player can play the game through their training methods. Most coaches kill the imagination and creativity of the budding player by saying things like “No!! you are running with the ball too much, you much pass the ball more, its all about passing and moving.”

Sometimes, the rules and regulations used by coaches working at all levels of the game also destroys the talent of the budding players. The “two touch only! or one touch rule” isn’t game realistic and will not teach the player how to recognise opportunities, when to play one touch and when not to.

Where time is concerned, it is important to make the best use of the limited time the coach has with the players. When the players arrive early before the start of practice, let them perform “football homework” and show you what they have been practising. This will help them improve their skills even further.

The worst thing I witnessed was a coach who would be talking to parents despite having 18 players arrive 15-minutes before the session starting. It wasn’t until the clock struck 6.00pm that he called the players in. This was to go through a de-briefing session on last week’s game. He even wasted more time by sending the players to run around the pitch to warm up.

It is best to get the players involved with a ball in their hands or feet in an activity which is relevant to the session.

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An In-Depth Look At Football Goal Dimensions

Football GoalThe dimensions of regulation football goals are virtually set in stone. FIFA saw fit to include them in the very first of the 17 Laws of the Game. The regulation goal must be 24 feet wide and 8 feet high. (This translates into 7.32 meters by 2.44 meters in metric measurement.) Aspiring footballers first encounter the regulation goal when they are 13 years old.

Children younger than 13 use different goal dimensions, as do specialized forms of football. See the list below for specifics.

Youth Football Goal Dimensions

Goals size for younger age groups are not as standardized as the regulation goal. Youth goal dimensions tend to fall into broad ranges as detailed here:

  • Under 6 & Under 7 – Players under the age of seven typically use a goal that ranges anywhere from 4.5 feet by 9 feet and 6.5 feet by 12 feet.
  • Under 8 – Players in the range between seven and eight use goals which fall within the same range, although they are typically larger than those for younger age groups. (Maximum size is usually 6.5 feet by 12 feet.)
  • Under 9 – Goal sizes for players under the age of nine start at 6.5 feet by 12 feet and range up to 6.5 feet by 18.5 feet.
  • Under 10 – Players under 10 use goals which range from 6.5 feet by 18.5 feet at the smallest up to 7 feet by 21 feet.
  • Under 11 – Kids below the age of 11 have goals that go from 6.5 feet by 18.5 feet to 8 feet by 24 feet.
  • Under 12 – Before the age of 12, goals are typically sized between 7 feet by 21 feet and 8 feet by 24 feet.

Goals For Alternative Forms Of Football

Handball Goal

  • Five-a-Side Football – In five-on-five football, games are often played with rules intended to keep the ball from rising above players’ heads; this means goals are usually very low. A common five a side goal would be 4 feet by 6 feet.
  • Futsal – Futsal makes use of the same goal designed for handball, which officially measures 6.5 feet by 10 feet.
  • Beach Soccer – Because of the low traction that sand offers to goalkeepers, beach goals are usually narrow. Official matches use a goal which is 7 feet by 18 feet.
  • Indoor Soccer – The indoor soccer goal is slightly wider than that used in Futsal due to the larger field. The official dimensions are 6.5 feet by 12 feet.
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The Ten Best Football Academies In The World (Part 2)

Following on from our previous post, here are the top 5 world academies in defending order;

5. Southampton F.C. Academy

At the South Coast club, Les Reed has made huge improvements in educational performance during his tenure as Executive Director of Football. The strong academy system he has put in place is further bolstered by the recent opening of a brand-new 30 million pound facility. Distinguished alumni of the program already include Theo Walcott, Ada Lallana, and Gareth Bale. Southampton is particularly well-known for its wide-ranging network of scouts and its onsite “black box” theater used for match analysis and training.

4. The Bayern Munich Junior Team

With a proud history stretching all the way back to 1902, the Bayern Junior Team has boasted such notable distinctions as a defensive unit that once included both Sepp Maier and Franz Beckenbauer. The academy was overhauled in 1995 and tasked with the job of keeping FCB in a globally competitive position in the next millennium in 1995. This has led to the adoption of a universal 4-3-3 system. It’s also produced leading lights such as Thomas Muller, Philipp Lahm, and Bastian Schweinsteiger — 2014 World Cup winners all.

3. Academia Sporting

This youth facility attached to Sporting Clube de Portugal operates from a 250,000 square meter complex on the outskirts of Lisbon. Former residents include the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. While the academy features all the latest and greatest training features and recovery programs, it’s also celebrated for the award-winning care taken with its trainees’ ethical and academic development.

2. La Masia

Few true football fans remain wholly ignorant of La Masia in Barcelona, and it’s easy to see why. La Masia is driven by its dedication to the “Total Football” philosophy derived from tiki-taka. This style of instruction demands comprehensive technical skill in order to play pass-and-move possession football at the highest possible level. La Masia is particularly noted as the training school responsible for Andres Insiesta, Lionel Messi, and Xavi — all of the candidates for the 2010 Ballon d’Or.

1. AFC Ajax Youth Academy

The celebrated academy setup is one of the key advantages that has driven Amsterdam to European championships four times. The “Total Football” philosophy and its leading light — Johan Cruyff — both hail from the Ajax academy. Today all age groups in the academy play a tightly-woven 4-3-3 system. The school’s emphasis now is on the “TIPS” system: Technique, Insight, Personality, and Speed.

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The Top 10 Best Football Academies In The World: Part 1

There isn’t a magic wand that creates great footballers. In fact, the world’s best players (think Cristiano and Neymar Rolando, Gareth Bale, or Lionel Messi) played at a professional soccer academy to learn the finer points of the game.

Here is a countdown of the top academies starting with number 10 through number 6.

10. RSC Anderlecht Youth Academy

Adnan Januzaj, Romelu Lukaku, and Vincent Kompany are some of the standout performers who have recently attended this Belgian club’s academy. The goal of the program, according to resources at the team, is to start as early as possible and use rigorous mental, tactical, and technical training to mold players who are capable of playing by the age of 18 to 21 at a Champions League level. The teams play a 3-4-3 up until age 14, while older groups transition to a possession based 4-3-3.

9. Dinamo Zagreb Academy

The national team of Croatia is re-surging and bringing their Hitrec-Kacijan academy to prominence with their rise. In the Barclays Premier League, Dejan Lovren, Niko Kranjcar, and Luka Modric all forged successful careers after coming through the ranks. The results are even more impressive when you consider that the operating budget is just Ä1m, which is low in comparison to their competition. The program emphasizes drills and situational conditions over systems and formations.

8. President Laudo Natel Athletes Formation Center.

Built in 2005 on a hillside outside of the city, the 220,000 square meter compound of the Sao Paulo’s Brazilian club features health services and lodging for over 100 players, two pools, and eight playing fields. Oscar and Lucas Moura learned how to play here and ten different teams from the nation vied for the chance to use the beautiful facilities. Kaka rose through the youth ranks of Sao Paulo before the new facility was completed.

7. The Manchester United Academy

With the recent additions of a sports science department and a medical center in 2013, the total cost of the club’s Carrington training center is more than £60 million. The complex is one of the most secure and secretive in Europe and the academy building is located within it. Members of its famous Class of 1992 included Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and David Beckham who went on to claim the Treble and Sir Bobby Charlton also trained in their youth program.

6. Santos F.C. Reserves & Academy

Neymar, Robinho, and Diego are three of the gems who have come through the house that PelÈ built. There are full living facilities for 270 trainees at the youth complex that is located inside of the Estadio Urbano Caldieira where matches are played by the first team. Youth team members get full coverage for their health care and must make education a priority in the adjacent study center.

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