In the spirit of Patrice Evra I am going to write a blog that is just for fun.
Have a look at this clip from his Instagram it makes me laugh every time I watch it. Please enjoy the clip and my blog.
I think all Coaches have a ‘Go To’ exercise or game that is just great fun both for the Coach and players. Mine is a shooting game called ‘Around the Goal’ and I first start playing it about 10 years ago and have done it with all ages and it has just about never let me down.
Here is the set up.
I am sure you are thinking the same as me when I first saw it. Look at the length of those lines but with this game being so fast it doesn’t matter. In fact, it is very hard to play it without at least 6 players in each line.
The Yellows are the shooters and the Blues are the GKs. The Coach is the White and all the footballs are in a pile ready for the Coach to pass out for the shot. When the Coach passes the ball out one Yellow player takes off and sprints around the 2nd blue cone and has 1-touch to score. At the same time the Blue player has to sprint around the back of the goal and then get in front to be the GK and save the shot. After the shot the shooter joins the back of the Shooter’s line and the GK goes to the back of the GK’s line.
As soon as the shot is taken without waiting for those players to clear the area the Coach passes out another ball and another shooter comes out and another GK and it just keeps repeating. The Shooters have 2 minutes to score as many goals as possible before we swap the two teams over.
This game is played at a really high tempo and you can quickly run out of footballs so I try to play it next to a fence or slope and tell the Shooters if I run out of footballs then it is the end of your go. The players, as you would expect, forget to collect the footballs but if you keep reminding them you will get enough to keep it going.
The distances vary according to the age groups but all you have to do is make sure that the GK has enough time to get around the back of the goal and in front before the shot is taken and the shot is from a distance that makes it challenging and it will work. It is the perfect game to liven up a group or to let a group know it is going to be fun today.
Before I go I have a memory attached to this game and again in the spirit of Patrice I will share it even though I know it won’t make you a better Coach. The best I can hope for is you will smile with me at my unprofessional, inappropriate but highly enjoyable behaviour.
I was at a High School doing a ‘Try-A-Sport’ day which is when the school organises lots of different Sports Coaches to come in and the children spend the day moving from Coach to Coach trying each sport. This was the only time I have ever done one at a High School. I have done several with younger children but not with 16/17 year olds. To put it bluntly these kids had had enough at 9:05am but my story starts with the last group coming to me at about 2:00pm.
I was doing the ‘Around the Goal’ game because I had to let them know it was going to be a laugh as none of the groups so far seemed particularly interested in football. By the amount of NBA merchandise being worn it was obvious that the mainly Maori or African students at the school preferred Basketball.
Anyway, this group came over and walking at the back was a kid who looked even more bored than the others which was pretty difficult. I say a kid but he was a head taller than me and clearly he was in no mood to Try-Yet-Another-Effing-Sport. He walked up and made a massive big show of plugging his headphones into his phone then tapped his phone loudly a few times before hitching up his top to put it in his pocket. After this he fully extended both his arms out above his head while we listened to someone rapping at high speed for a few seconds and placed the headphones over both ears then with his head tilted slightly to the side he looked at me.
It doesn’t take 10 years of coaching experience to read this situation so I said ‘No problems mate. If you don’t want to do it just go sit over there.’ He continued to look at me without changing his bored expression and never moved. He was wanting everyone to know that he had the music up so loud he couldn’t hear me. The girl next to him pulled the headphones out and said ‘He said go and sit over there’. The boy walked off clearly thinking he had just had a big win and sat down next to the fence that was going to stop all the footballs. He pulled his hoodie up and the brim of his Boston Celtics cap down. I could understand his attitude to some extent as the Hockey Coach before me looked like she was boring the kids silly before they got to me and it had been a long day.
Anyway, I explained the ‘Around the Goal’ game to the group and for some reason they were enthusiastic to play it. After a few shots ‘Headphone Boy’ realised he was a bit too close to the goal so he moved a bit further away along the fence. I cannot explain what went through my brain I just saw the opportunity and did it. I waited till he pulled his cap down again then I turned around and in full view of all the other kids playing I chipped a ball perfectly over the line of Shooters arching beautifully into the fence which then dropped on to the head of ‘Headphone Boy’ then I turned around and carried the game on.
‘Headphone Boy’ pulled his cap back but by now there were 6 players on the move again and had no idea who had hit it. He was in a dilemma now as everyone not moving was smiling at him but he had no idea who had done it or if it was on purpose. ‘Headphone Boy’ was clearly not the main man in this group that honour clearly fell to the enormous Maori boy with the Chicago Bulls tracksuit on turned up to his knees.
All the kids in the group weren’t too sure what had just happened whether I meant it or if it accidentally hit him. The game kept going I kept glancing back and as soon as ‘Headphone Boy’ put his head down again I chipped another ball. I was on fire and hit exactly the same spot on the fence so bang the ball dropped on to his head again. At this point it was time to change the two teams around so although everyone was laughing they were all moving again so again he had no idea who had done it or if they meant to. He got up putting on his sulkiest face which I assume he thought made him look hard and moved further along the fence.
As the teams changed over all the players were begging me to do it again. I was falling for peer group pressure from people who were hardly my peers to bully a teenager who I didn’t know at all but it had been a long day for me as well. If I am truthful by now my major concern was not my behaviour was completely inappropriate and would be majorly difficult to explain if I got pinged but the fact that he had moved about 30m away and I wasn’t sure if I could hit him.
I couldn’t resist but now he wasn’t pulling his cap down and was watching the game more intently. I waited and waited and as soon as he looked away I chipped another one. I underhit it a bit and instead of hitting the fence and dropping on him it hit his legs directly. As he jumped to his feet all the girls in the group immediately fell to the ground laughing and the boys were spinning around bent over howling and laughing.
‘Headphone Boy’ was furious but the only person apart from me standing up straight was ‘Mr Chicago Bulls Tracksuit’ so he wasn’t game to come over and find out who hit it just in case he really didn’t like the answer. He stormed off and sat down out of range for even Beckham. I carried on the rest of the session thinking I was Sidney Poitier and had a great time.
To this day I have no idea what came over me but it always brings a smile to my face.
None to surprisingly for a change I am not keen to hear your thoughts on that story.
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Till next time