coaching places emphasis on fun - evening echo article

Coaching places emphasis on fun - Evening Echo Article

23 February 2009

Below is an article that appeared in the Evening Echo Cork last Saturday Feb 21st 2009 by Billy Lyons


BILLY LYONS 021, 4505465/ 087 7937789/ email:


Walk like Cannavaro. That could well have been one of the instructions issued at the recent Lakewood UCC coaching initiative at Ovens. Keep the head up! That is one of the instructions in the section on the development of touch and technique.

The early coaching methods had many people in the game worried that individual skills and initiative were being in danger of "being coached out" of the young players. Not the case here. First on the agenda is dribbling. With both feet and your coach at your shoulder. Some of the solo runs ended up off the playing area. But what the hell. The person who never made a mistake never made anything.

The six week session was quite detailed and I could bore you with all the lists. But the details were worked seamlessly into the teaching at Lakewood and there was no sign of boredom in the kids. 

"Players will respond and want to continue if things are fun. Create their enjoyment." This is the last, though not the least, of 13 guidelines covering the coaching venture. And there was no doubt but that the children were having fun. All 150 of them!

On the ladder

The Lakewood Athletic club in Ovens is usually a busy spot at the weekends with many of the club's teams in action on its excellent pitches. These past few weeks, Mondays and Thursdays are also very busy there with the clubs Academy players receiving coaching from the undergraduates students of UCC's B Ed Sports Studies and Physical Education course.

The objective of the joint initiative is to develop an annual coaching programme for the Academy players in the Lakewood Athletic club. The coaching sessions will be set out on an annual basis and will be developed to improve the basic skill of the players. It is also being developed to provide the UCC undergraduate students with the opportunity to deliver a programme to children, within the 7 to 12 age groups, and thus gain valuable coaching experience.

Lakewood's Gray Hoctor: "We had been worried that our own coaching wasn't quite delivering and that the players coming through weren't picking up the basic skills. We had been looking to improve and see this association with UCC as a win win. Coaching for our kids is being put on a more solid footing and the UCC people are getting to work in a real life situation which can only help them develop."

Julia Walsh, Director of Sports Studies and Physical Education, is delighted with the partnership: "The Bachelor of Sports Studies and Physical Education provides students with an opportunity to specialise in coaching.  This year, 22 students selected this stream and have been actively involved in both the theory and practice of coaching."

On the charge

"The coaching placement involves 2 X 12 hour coaching placements.  The first placement took place at Lakewood soccer club. This initiative has students working in coaching teams with groups of 20 young athletes.  Student coaches are mentored by university staff and club coaches.  The second placement is the student's choice.  This coaching development model is built around sharing knowledge, being open to feedback, and reflecting on practice. "

"It is a fabulous opportunity for UCC students to work with community groups for extended periods of time.   The partnership with Lakewood Soccer club is a very fruitful one and is an example of sharing expertise so that the students and the community grow. "

Lakewood expects the young players to improve balance, to become comfortable and confident with the football and develop use of both feet. Head Coach Noel Mullins: "Lakewood Athletic provides facilities and all training equipment required. The players will be assessed during the programme by the UCC coaches and subsequently the Lakewood coaching staff will be able to work on these assessments, to further develop the skills of the individual players. The UCC college staff will mentor the undergraduates as part of their curriculum."

Six weekly sessions commenced in January and eight different groups of kids, from Under 7 Boys to Under 12 Girls, will benefit. Each session is attended by a Lakewood Academy Administrator, an experienced Lakewood Coach, two UCC coaches for each group and one UCC mentor.

Detailed guidelines have been set out covering such things as communication, awareness of the individuality of each player, the necessity of avoiding boredom during drills, technique and quality and so on, always with a stress on fun and enjoyment.

The student coaches are reminded to "keep away from the pressure to win", to set "exemplary standards", and that "good sportsmanship and a good atmosphere is the goal". The main technical areas covered are the development of touch and technique, passing and shooting (with both feet) and awareness of movement as part of the team. The headings for the sessions, which all start with a warm up period, are: dribbling, passing, control, shooting, teamwork.

Lakewood U12 Girls

The final session is reserved for assessment of the individual's ball skills, passing, shooting, defence and teamwork and general movement. The Lakewood coaches will utilise these assessments base in their future sessions.

At the end of the four year degree course, graduates will be qualified to teach PE and the Arts subject that they selected. This will qualify them to teach PE and their specialist subject at secondary school level and act as a coach, at primary or secondary school level and/or act as a sports coach in a club.

All UCC students undertaking this course will be advised to take specific coaching courses offered by the National Coaching Training Centre (NCTC) in order to gain accreditation within the National Coaching Development Programme, as well as courses in First Aid and Training in Swimming.

By the way Cannavaro, the Italian captain who does keep his head up, was not mentioned during my visit to the coaching. At least not that I heard. There was quite a lot of noise being generated. Happy sounds.

End of story

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