There's more children involved in organised football than ever before in Scotland. It is fantastic so many children are involved, but is the quality better?
The days of kids playing football in the street until it gets dark are gone. The days where it was not uncommon for kids to play 6 and 7 hours of unstructured football a day. Playing cuppy, wally, roofy and other games.
If I ask any of our Academy players if they want to be a footballer, 99.9% will say yes.
Since Futsal Escocia was set up, it has included the motto 'All about DEVELOPMENT and FUN', something that Scott McTominay said in a recent podcast was vital in his youth career. If you want to improve at something, it is much easier if you enjoy it.
Do our futsal sessions develop players?
100%, we believe we offer something completely different with futsal. The different surface, the different ball, the size of the court, and the conditions automatically provide a new challenge for any aspiring player. All the research and data shows that variety is key to player development and futsal provides that. Our Academy sessions are designed to be game related, to develop all areas of a player, and for the players to problem solve based on what is happening in front of them.
But there's a catch!! We only have 1 or 2 hours of contact time with the players a week. Any coaching group that says they can completely change a child with 1 or 2 hours a week is talking complete nonsense and selling you a dream. Although, 2 hours is double 1 and a lot of our more developed players playing pro were doing 2 or even 3 futsal sessions a week over the foundation stages of their development (5-11 years of age). They weren't just doing futsal though.
So how can the kids improve the fundamentals?
Contact time with a ball is vital and of those 99.9% that want to be footballers, I believe that 95% don't spend enough time with a ball at their feet, and this includes players in a pro environment.
How do I get more contact time with a ball?
For developing the fundamentals (dribbling, passing, control and ball mastery) it requires self motivation and practice. You need to work on the areas you aren't so good at and probably don't enjoy. Yes you can pay a fortune for a 1-2-1 session but if your child needs someone to motivate them, it's unlikely they have the desire or work ethic to become a pro footballer.
Camps are a great way to increase your contact time with a ball. Our camps provide about 25 hours of futsal or football. Every morning we work on the fundamentals and each day includes street football games and small sided games. Coaching is minimal as kids don't want to hear someone telling them what to do for 5 hours a day.
There's nothing better than a good wall to practice your passing and control with both feet. Using different parts of the foot and body to pass and control the ball. Changing the distances from the wall and height where you hit the wall (different bounce). It is also FREE!!!
If you need some guidance, 7mlc on YouTube is fantastic. During lockdown, remember those days, we used a lot of his content as homework and during Zoom sessions. A lot of our players improved technically over lockdown, just because they had more contact time with a ball. But you have to maintain that.
The 7mlc channel has 1.7 million followers and content includes all the fundamentals and position specific training. Again, it is also FREE!!!!
Is attendance at training linked to development?
This is fairly self explanatory but it's important to bring it up. If you regularly miss training sessions, you are reducing your contact time with a ball and losing out on any information provided from the coaches. Attendance is most definitely linked to player development.
What else is important when you attend a training session?
Effort - If you give 100% at evety session, you cannot ask for more. Irrespective of your age, gender or level of ability, everyone can give 100%. If everyone gives 100%, you are collectively helping each other develop. The more advanced players don't normally need motivated to work hard.
Willingness to learn - Engage with and listen to coaches. Take on board any advice or guidance they provide, even when they are not talking directly to you. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Intensity - We try as best as we can to have intensity at our sessions. Each level you go up, the speed of play increases. This links in with effort but also crosses over with fitness.
Attitude - Go into a session with the right attitude. Treat others at the sessions how you'd like to be treated. What do you want to achieve from the session?
Have fun - Enjoy the session and have a laugh. You can work hard and have fun with it. If you make mistakes, who cares. Nobody makes mistakes on purpose. Learn from them and don't let them impact on your session.
Hopefully all the above helps players and parents understand what you can do to improve. The light nights are slowly coming back and it's a great opportunity to get out there with a ball.
Here's that Scott McTominay podcast I referred to earlier.