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Four ways to take remote control
Lockdown – the dreaded word of 2020. As both pro and amateur players found themselves kicking their heels rather than balls, many coaches had the novel experience of leading training sessions via video on conferencing apps like Zoom.
While not quite the same as being out on the grass with the players, Zoom sessions allow coaches to maintain relationships with individuals, generate a positive team morale, give youngsters a chance to stay active and maintain some level of normality and structure.
With a vaccine on the horizon, we hope Covid may not halt football again. But you may find yourself wanting to run training remotely due to weather or a lack of facilities or coaching staff.
So, here are a few tips to keep players engaged and help your Zoom sessions run smoothly.
01. KEEP IT SIMPLE
It’s important to bear in mind that some players won’t have access to outdoor space or lots of equipment, so the more you’re able to do with just a ball in a small area, the better.
If you know all of your players are able to use an outside area, a wall or have a partner helping them, you can always incorporate this into your session.
Also consider that it might be tricky for you to keep an eye on a number of different players simultaneously, so if you’re introducing something more complex, you may not always be able to spot where corrections and coaching points are needed.
Ball mastery or fun fitness activities can be good ‘go-to’ options to keep Zoom sessions simple, or return to practices you may already have done in person, that players are already familiar with.
02. STAY FLEXIBLE
With lockdown being such a difficult and strange time for everyone, it’s natural that players may not always be fully engaged in your sessions, especially when they’re not together in person.
Try to recognise your players’ moods and if they’re not feeling the ball mastery work, keepy-uppy challenge or work-outs, be ready to change it up.
There’s no harm in asking the group what they would like to do, or giving players the chance to lead their own sessions.
03. MAKE IT FUN
As with any training session, especially for younger players, making Zoom sessions fun is a big objective.
If your players enjoy getting competitive, try to set them challenges, or perhaps teach them a new skill that’s difficult to master, so they all have fun watching each other try it. Or why not go all-out and let them turn up in fancy dress or wearing silly hats?
You could also finish your session with a fun game like dizzy penalties, or even something non-football related like telling their favourite jokes or trying to drink a glass of water upside down. Whatever gets them smiling!
04. ALLOW PLAYERS THEIR OWN TIME
While some players in your squad may go to school together, your remote coaching sessions could be the only chance many get to see their team-mates.
Therefore the time you set aside for your players needs to be as much about the social and psychological corners as the technical and physical.
Maybe plan to stop your coaching five minutes early to allow your players chance to have a chat, or even log-in deliberately late to give them the opportunity for a catch-up without you overseeing.