Jason O'Connor: Upskilling our players the key to coaching

Jason O'Connor


Jason O'Connor



Jason O'Connor: Upskilling our players the key to coaching

Upskilling our players the key to coaching

AS grassroots coaches in Limerick begin 2018, a New Year’s resolution for many is, I’m sure, to improve our players.

If we were to ask ourselves why we, as coaches, get involved in our local clubs, all but a few would admit that it’s our children that bring us to or back to, the game of football.

With this is mind, I’d like to discuss the importance of coaching practice and how vital it is that we all educate ourselves in the art of coaching.

This must begin with our view on coaching, and as clubs, this should be part of our club philosophy.

A lot of local clubs operate with a football committee, made up of coaches who have interest only in on field matters. In such clubs these members ensure that adults coaching young players are trained and qualified to do so.

As a parent myself, if I send my child to learn French, I will expect the teacher to be qualified to teach French. When considering my child’s football education should my approach as a parent be any different?

Before answering one must consider that payment is required for my child to play football locally, so I am paying for my child to learn football, with this in mind I expect learning to take place.

One must also consider than the more my child practices either Football or French then the better they will become, so in French class would I expect my child to receive homework? The answer should be the same for football.

Learning French vocab could be considered the equivalent to learning a new skill in football. While the experience former players bring to our underage game can be invaluable, coaching education in the FAI is considered the most important tool a coach can have in the development of our players.

FAI coaching education provides age appropriate exercises and games that meet the developmental needs of all our young players. It is our belief that better coaches help develop better players and through coach education in Limerick the FAI are committed to assisting our local clubs develop their players.

For example players aged between six and nine require themed sessions on one particular topic at a time. It is proven by their age characteristics that players of this age cannot retain what adult players can in one session.

Coaching is not a one size fits all skill. In the FAI PDP1 course the themes are broken down and games and practices relevant to players aged 6-9 and their developmental needs are provided for coaches of this age range.

Players aged from 9-12 are now entering a window of opportunity to develop their skills and must be challenged with agility, balance and coordination exercises and more small sided games that are covered in the FAI PDP2 course which are also defined by the age profile of the player.

The technique of running is something that must be considered during this age window also as this can provide a young player with the ability to reach their speed potential. The technique of running can be learned and is something that is often ignored.

A strength and conditioning module can also be introduced to players during this window and own body weight exercises such as sit ups, press ups and plank are invaluable when assisting our players to become more all round better athletes.

The art and skills of tackling and heading are today components of the game that are often not coached. Our fear of players getting injured could be a cause but when we say that our sessions must mirror what happens in our live games tackling and heading the football are very much part of this.

The weighted footballs introduced by FAI high performance director Ruud Dockter a couple of years ago has eased parents fears of injury caused by heading the ball and if we are honest in our assessment of a long term player pathway in this country our players are destined for the national league where tackling is something that is quite a big part of our game and must be learned.

Upcoming FAI coach education courses in Limerick City and county set up to upskill our coaches are as follows:

PDP1 in Aisling Annacotty FC on January 14

PDP1 in Herbertstown FC on January 28

PDP2 in Aisling Annacotty FC on February 17 and 18

PDP2 in Breska Rovers FC on March 25 and 26

4v4 Playing Format Coaches Workshop in Newcastlewest on January 27

4v4 Playing Format Coaches Workshop in Aisling Annacotty on March 21

Courses can be booked online through www.fai.ie/coacheducation or through jason.oconnor@fai.ie.


Saturday January 6

Youths Division 1

Broadford Utd V AK Utd 230 (P. O’Donnell)

Newcastle West Town FC V GB Rovers 230 (NCW AFC Grounds) (E. Barrett)

Askeaton AFC V Abbeyfeale Utd 230 (P. King)

Youths Division 2

Ballingarry AFC V Pallaskenry AFC 230 (P. O’Connor)

Shountrade AFC V Granagh Utd 230 (P. Manning)

Sunday January 7

Premier Division

Broadford Utd V Granagh Utd 1130 (J. Roche)

Carrig Celtic V Rathkeale AFC 1130 (P. O’Brien)

Glin Rovers V Ballingarry AFC 1130 (P. Manning)

Newcastle West Rovers V Athea Utd 1130 (T. Fitzmaurice) in Woodfield

Shannonside FC V Abbeyfeale Utd in Borrigone 1130 (E. Noonan)

Division 1

Abbeyfeale Utd B V Glantine 230 (P. King)

Feenagh V Ballysteen AFC 1130 (P. O’Donnell)

Newcastle West AFC V Kildimo Utd 1130 (P. O’Connor)

Killeaney V AK Utd 2pm (P. Manning)

Division 2

Newcastle West Rovers B V Knockaderry AFC 230 (J. Roche) in Woodfield

Askeaton AFC V Pallaskenry AFC 2pm (L. O’Connor)

Ferry Rangers V Rathkeale B 230pm (P. O’Brien)

Shountrade AFC V St. Itas 1130 (E. Barrett)

Bally Rovers V Glin Rovers B 230 (P. O’Donnell)

Division 3

Ballingarry B V Broadford Utd B 230 (JP Murphy)

Carrig Celtic B V Athea Utd B 230 (T. Fitzmaurice)

Glantine B V Creeves Celtic 1130 (S. Hartnett)