Coaching In Primary School PE – Facilities

Author: Dan Leaton

Football in PE – Facilities

You imagine playing football, you hear the buzz of the crowd (as you bury one in the top corner/row z) playing on a pitch that resembles a carpet, lush grass with bold straight white painted lines and goals sturdy enough to withstand the British weather. Now…go into a school to teach football and forget that dream training facility. Instead, you’re greeted with broken goals, tatty nets, odd footballs and no bibs. What an environment to challenge yourself and LEARN on your feet. 

The school grounds and weather will give you a clear indication of how to plan your lessons around the facilities you have. Let us break those down. Field. Playground. MUGA (Multi Use Games Area). Indoor Hall. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a field, a luxury not all schools can boast, then make the site manager your best friend! Having the grass cut will be a massive help but it may take an extra special Christmas present to keep it being well kept during the winter months. Moreover, if you’re fortunate enough to have lines painted, these also need to be maintained.

Use these lines as your friend. They limit equipment used (saving time) and are an easy guide for technical practices and instructions to follow, ‘dribble to line…pass to the player on the line…move to the line etc’. Boundaries are then clear, but if you do not have lines, mark areas with cones, even though you want to utilise the space you have, there will be areas where you do not want your class going. (Just get kids to tidy up at the end!). 

These safety responsibilities lay firmly on the coach, checking the area and ensuring that hazards such as fences along the edge leading to back gardens, ponds and many other surroundings (I once had railway tracks), are given a wide birth, to keep your class safe in a specific area but also to limit losing precious equipment. Every PE teacher knows the dread of seeing a football go on a roof or over a wall knowing it will never get seen again!

When using a field, it is weather dependent so liaise with the school about it’s use and kids PE kit. Make football boots and shin pads a requirement if you are on a field, especially in the winter months. Do not relax these rules, you cannot play football in normal trainers on a wet muddy field, to put it bluntly, it is not safe. 

Moving on to probably the most common area you will be doing PE, the playground.

Playgrounds bring several obstacles that need to be considered before starting your lesson, these include – size, break times, surrounding buildings, surface and other facilities on the playground such as climbing frames. Depending on the size of the playground will alter the type of lessons you will be able to do, consider if match play is an option and from there you can judge how far the class can safely manipulate the ball. Are technical practices and smaller sided games more suited? 

Get your timetable as quickly as you can when starting in a school and find out their schedule, you may be sharing the playground with other classes/break times, which means you need set your boundaries clearly to the class. Pay close mind to the direction of play to avoid a ball constantly banging against a classroom! 

Again, it is your responsibility to make sure that your lesson is carried out in a safe environment. This means taking into account the surface of the playground, most are concrete and unforgiving when fallen on. Considering the surface may mean you have to alter your lessons so the physicality and contact are kept to a minimum and the act of ‘running’ is monitored so there are no collisions, which should be considered in your lesson planning. This is paramount with younger age groups whose perception and awareness is still in development.

MUGAs are becoming more popular and are a great idea in theory, however, when teaching football in them you can find that you are quite limited. Most have a pitch marked out, but the most you would be able to play at a time would be 5v5, leaving nearly two thirds of class with nowhere to play/being set a different task. Most are enclosed, which is brilliant for keeping your equipment close and allows you to incorporate the walls into your lessons and use of a rebound.

The last and probably the least suited facility is the hall, which in most schools serves as the ‘assembly/lunch hall’ and is far from equipped for football. This means for your lesson you may have to move (or in some cases utilise) benches, chairs, tables prior to make room and to make the area safe. Though the changes in facilities can be a novelty, it does effect involvement (groups sitting out) and the demands of technical execution may be higher, or more messy. However, the indoor element may encourage some to get more involved and add more intensity (street football!) to your session.

Just make sure you use sponge/soft balls…nobody needs the bill for a new projector!

With each facility comes a different way of thinking and a detailed approach to your lesson. As coaches we must be adaptable and planning an appropriate lesson for a field one week and a playground the next will require you to apply a clear understanding.

…and then before/during your outdoor lesson…it starts to rain!



Coaching, Football, Primary School