In Dec 18, a group of SJFA coaches visited Chelsea FC Academy in Cobham, Surrey. We were invited to observe a Chelsea Academy midweek training session. We watched 8 to 11 year olds train (who all trained together), and also all other age groups up until U16/U17s. It was an eye opening experience for the coaches. I’m sure the others who attended would agree that we took two key things away from watching these boys train. The first was the intensity at which they trained – but hey ho, they are wannabe professionals! The second was simplicity of the sessions, all the 8 to 11 year old boys did a carousel, similar to what we first introduced in tiers 2 and tiers 3, but now also in tier 4, 5 and 6. We asked our hosts why they trained in this manner. The answer was simple
1) It develops muscle memory, doing the same training drills week in week out, means you develop expertise. It also is a form of deliberate practice. Many of you may have read Malcom Gladwells famous and interesting book called “Outliers”,where he cites 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. However what’s even more crucial is deliberate practice, whereby you are taught to practice in a specific manner – focusing on improvement, and correct form. That’s what leads to real expertise, or skill.
2) It means the boys get the basics technical component of football correctly taught to them from a young age – this really struck a cord with all of us, we all really felt it is and was crucial to give all SJFA players proper correct technical football training. The reason is simple. We want our boys to play football for a very long time, however they only have a few formative years (the FA defines foundation phase as the ages of 5 to 11). In these years it is crucial that they are taught and that they practice correct technique.
Hence we’ve introduced the SJFA carousel, based on the Chelsea Carousel. See the pictures here and videos here from last Sundays’s session where we work improving our boys passing, shooting, dribbling, 1v1, ABC (agility balance and coordination) and skills. We run the carousel for only 42 minutes, 6 minutes at each station. Followed by 40 minutes of games at the end. Every now and then we’ll also have internal tier tournaments, where the boys can play matches against their peers – which they all seem to love.
We hope inshallah that by improving their technical abilities, they’ll be engaged with football for a longer time, as their technical abilities will no doubt bring success, and an opportunity for them to demonstrate and develop all the other attributes that playing competitive sport brings (resilience, perseverance, teamwork, grit etc). Thereby helping inshallah them to develop as well rounded Muslims.
Tier 2 manager