Coaching In Primary School PE – Introduction
Author: Dan Leaton
Football in PE – An Introduction.
Being a footballer seems to be nearly every little boy’s and some girl’s dream, right? Being a PE teacher and football coach, you soon learn the difference between ‘teaching’ football in school and ‘coaching’ football at your club.
Focusing on teaching football in a school, with just one class you are met with numerous challenges that you must overcome to put on a comprehensive lesson, the first of which is understanding ability levels of the children in front of you. These are often more stark and apparent than in your grassroots club.
You can break those differences down into; the child that does not want to play, the child that wants to play but has low-average ability/understanding and the children that are able to execute techniques well, play with high ability and therefore may not find the lessons challenging.
Each child needs to be taught with a different view on what they are going to achieve as an outcome of the lesson, whilst maintaining engagement and FUN, which is where the experience and attitude of the teacher/coach comes into play.
Let us start with the child that does not want to play, this is where you need to think about your lesson plan and the objectives. If you are able to focus on making sure the child understands what they are learning, how to do it and when, then you have given them necessary tools and done your job.
You do not teach football in PE to turn every child into a footballer. You are simply teaching them how to play, whether they want to play is out of your hands, but who know, you may spark interest in them to play more or increase their physical activity during lunchtime or outside of school.
Next the child that has a willingness to learn and wants to play but has lower technical levels. This is where you will get the most reward in teaching as hopefully over time you will see improvement. Positive reinforcement and small challenges will guide the improvement, but do not expect to mould them into a footballer overnight.
Remember a PE lesson has a duration, a class has a certain number of children. You need to be treating the class as equals, even though their ability levels are all different. This is where proactivity is important, learn to have teaching points on the tip of your tongue where you see fit to use them, this will make your teaching more efficient.
Lastly, the ‘footballers’ in the class, who may see football in PE as ‘boring’ as they play for a team at the weekend, or (maybe rightly so) only want to play alongside their mates or the stronger players. Their attitude can be that they can do the lesson’s objective already and that they will not learn anything new. This is certainly not pigeon-holing all players of this calibre, indeed sometimes these players can be socially stronger, and therefore be a ‘tool’ you as a coach can utilise, whilst challenging them in a different way.
Different temperaments of children mean some of the higher ability will do well with lower ability and almost help you teach the lesson to those that are not as skilled as themselves, but on the flip side some of the better players will get frustrated with those that are not on their level.
Remember, every challenge you set, can be made tougher. Whatever your lesson objective is, there are parameters you can set that can be adjusted to increase the difficulty. Such tasks could be the use of non-dominant foot, limit touches or longer/shorter distances (Check the FA STEP principle). Be imaginative and hopefully by enforcing these changes for the higher ability group will keep them engaged and on task in the lesson.
When you have experience with the children and KNOW YOUR PLAYERS will you know how to divide a group appropriately so relevant, realistic and competitive challenges can be set that positively affect all players!
To conclude, as an introduction into teaching football in PE, you need to teach first, coach later. Start off with a blank canvas and adjust your learning objectives for everyone’s ability.